DATING YOUR FRED BEAR BOW
There are several features and changes that were made to the bear bows over the years that will help narrow the age of your bow or your potential investment.
1. The Serial Number: These bows usually have, what appears to be a hand inscription on one of the limbs that gives a serial number along with the length and pull weight of the bow. This serial number works very well for dating Bear Bows from 1965-1969 when the first digit of the serial number is the year of manufacture.
For example, a serial number of 5L212 would be a 1965 Bow.
Prior to 1965, the serial numbers for all Bear bows were started over every month, making these bows almost impossible to date by serial number alone. The "K" series of serial numbers (for example KZ9672) were started in 1970.
2. Patent Mark: Most of the BEAR Bows we have sold have the logo and the US Patents printed on it along with the date of CANADA 1953. This date that is printed on all bows made between 1953 and 1972 is simply the date of the patent for a working recurve limb and has nothing to do with the actual model year.
3. Decals & Silkscreening: In 1948 the small Running Bear decal was first and then was replaced by the large Standing Bear decal in mid-1953. The large Standing Bear decal also has the words "Glass Powered Bow" under the Standing Bear.
The large Standing Bear decal was used until 1955 when it was replaced with silk-screening the identification on the bows. By 1956 the silk-screening appeared on all bows.
4. All Wood vs Laminate: If your bow is ALL wood (no laminations of any kind) then your bow had to be made before the mass productions beginning in 1949.
- If the ALL wood bow has a stamp that reads "Bear Products" in some form it would have been made before the early to mid 40's.
- If it is stamped "Bear Archery" it would have been made AFTER the early-mid 40's and BEFORE 1949.
- Also wooden bows with a small "Running Bear" decal can be dated to 1948
5. The Leather Grip: ALL Bear bows had leather grips until 1959. In 1959, the Kodiak Special removed the leather grip and in 1961 the Kodiak did the same, as well as the Grizzly in 1964.
6. The Coin Medallion: Beginning in 1959 all Bear bows had a coin medallion of one type of metal or another. Below are the approx date ranges for the type of coin used.
Copper Coin - 1959
Aluminum - 1960-1961
Pewter - 1962
Brass - 1963 - 1970
Nickel-Silver - 1971-1972
ALL coins were flush with the wood until 1972. In late 1972 the coin was raised above the surface of the bow and came in both gold and chrome covered plastic and are still used in Bear bows today.
7. Manufacturer Location: in 1978 Bear moved all manufacturing and offices to Gainesville, Florida. If your bow shows Gainesville on it then it was made after 1978
8. Model Of The Bow: Check the Model of the bow. Below is a yearly production chart for the most popular Bear Bows.
Wood Handle Take-Down 1969-1972
Wood C-Riser Victor Custom 1973-1975
Magnesium Handle Take-Down A-B-C 1971-1978
Kodiak Static Recurve 1950-1953
Kodiak Recurve 1954-1966
Super Kodiak 1967-1976
Grizzly Static Recurve 1949-1957
Grizzly Recurve 1958-1978
Super Magnum 48 1966-1976
Kodiak Magnum 52" 1961-1977
Kodiak Hunter 58" and 60" 1967-1977
Tamerlane HC-30 1965-1967
Tamerlane HC-300 1968-1972
Kodiak Special 1955-1967
Victor Patriot 1973-1977
Polar (recurve) 1957-1970
Alaskan (leather grip semi-recurve) 1959-1961
Alaskan (recurve) 1966-1970
Black Bear 1972-1978
Little Bear 1965-1978
With this information you should be able to get really close to dating your Bear Bow if not pin-pointing it to the year.