Ty introduced Princess
on October 29, 1997. In November 1997, Ty
informed retailers they could only order 12 Princess
for delivery in December. This restriction caused many collectors and retailers to
would be a limited
edition. The "limited edition" rumor caused a buying frenzy when
first shipped in December 1997.
The "limited edition" rumors caused a
buying frenzy when Princess
first shipped to Ty retailers in late
December 1997. Announcements from Ty and Patricia A. Roche (Managing
director of Ty Europe) that Princess would be in plentiful supply in 1998, did
little to calm the buying frenzy.
Collector and speculator demand
immediately drove the secondary market price for
Beanie Baby to more than $200. Some retailers held back the
bears they received in the initial shipment, opting instead to auction them off
or hoard them for future sale when values were anticipated to be higher. Various
newspapers and magazines reported that collectors were buying Princess
on the secondary market for prices sometimes exceeding $300.
To this day, much of the production history for the Princess
Baby is still a mystery.
Collectors who paid hundreds of dollars for Princess
during the initial
buying frenzy still believe Princess
is worth more than the price
they paid. Children who received Princess
as a gift from their parents
believe it is valuable today because "their parents told them so." New
collectors are misled about Princess
values by uninformed, dishonest or deluded sellers on eBay who frequently attempt to sell
or auction Princess
for prices ranging from hundreds to hundreds of
had never been planned to be a limited edition. Ty wanted to
in stores before Christmas, but he could not start producing them
until he received approval from the Princess Diana Fund managers. Approval was granted on October 29, 1997, the same day Ty introduced
at the Ty Internet site. Now that production could begin, time and
logistics dictated the total number of Princess
bears that could actually be
produced and shipped to stores before Christmas. That was the only reason for the retailer
limits of 12 Princess
Beanie Babies in December 1997.
Searching for the facts
According to "most" accounts, the very first shipments of Princess
to arrive at retail outlets had a tush tag showing Princess
was filled with
In either late December 1997 or some time between January and March 1998 (existing accounts
conflict with each other), Princess
bears were discovered that had tush tags showing they were filled with P.E.
pellets. The appearance of the P.E. pellet tags
initiated a controversy
that continues to this day. The controversy appears to focus on three questions:
1. Which version of Princess
was produced first?
2. How many different versions of Princess
3. How many Princess
Beanie Babies of each version did Ty produce?
This article examines the Princess
Beanie Baby timeline with a focus
on existing evidence. Information about Princess
in printed media and on the
Internet has been copied, edited and recopied so many times it is difficult to
separate speculation from truth.
Ty does not release production and inventory records to the public, so there may
always be a Princess
mystery. Recollections of events by authorized Ty
retailers who received the first shipments of Princess
ago contradict each
It seems odd that a Beanie Baby with such a mediocre secondary market value
today is so hotly debated by collectors. Princess
Beanie Babies change hands
frequently on eBay every month for less than ten dollars each. There is no shortage of eBay sellers claiming
theirs is a "first edition" Princess
even though most of them are incorrect as evidenced
by the photographs of Princess
tags in their listings. Some sellers list Princess
with starting prices ranging from thousands to sometimes millions of dollars. One can only
hope potential buyers understand prices that high are not only unrealistic but
essentially a joke.
Ty plush collectors often strive to have the "first" version of any Beanie Baby. It is generally believed a "first" version will always be the most
surprise appearance of a P.E. tush tag on Princess
caused dilemmas with collectors
who could not figure out which tush tag was the actual "first." Conflicting stories regarding
the P.E. tush tag appeared in the media and on the Internet. Many collectors
attempted to purchase two Princess
bears, each with a different version of the tush tag. That way one of the two bears
had to be the "first
Initially, the P.E. tush tag on Princess
was presumed to be an error. A few articles in the
media claimed Ty had announced the P.E. tush tag was a mistake and the
bears with P.E. tush tags were actually filled with P.V.C. pellets.
Another media report claimed a Princess
with the P.E. tush tag
had been tested in a laboratory and found to be filled with P.V.C. pellets. We have not seen
any documented copies of the alleged laboratory test results.
Conflicting theories and information
The initial presumption that the P.E. tush tag was a
"mistake" created another rush to purchase Princess
bears with the P.E. tush tag by collectors who specialized in Ty Beanie Baby "errors" or "oddities."
Then another theory surfaced claiming Ty had produced the Princess
bears with the
P.V.C. and P.E. tush tags simultaneously in two different Chinese factories. The
theory held that a Princess
with either of the tush tags could be considered a "first edition." There exists no
publicly released documentary proof to substantiate the "two
factory" theory. By "proof" I mean hard-copy Ty production records, stock
inventories or other papers that would provide a Princess
first production run in China. The merchant who posted this two-factory theory on the Internet
challenged anyone to "prove her wrong." That in itself is suspicious
because she provides nothing credible to "prove herself right."
Since the first "two factory" theory appeared, other collectors have proposed
different theories with the same challenge to "prove them wrong." Given the lack
of any credible documentary evidence, none of these "prove me wrong" theories
can be substantiated.
I have also communicated with collectors who claim their version of the Princess
has to be true because they "heard" it from a Ty
Employee or even a Ty corporate executive. Those accounts should be discounted because they are never backed up by hard copy documents like
a letter or email from the alleged Ty employee. These "Ty employee as the source
of information" stories are even more unlikely considering Ty Warner's
strict corporate rules that prohibit company employees from disclosing any
information about the company or its products to the public.
Contrary to all of the hype, misinformation and secondary market speculation,
a "made in China" version of Princess
P.V.C. tush tag and "no-space" swing tag is currently worth from $30 to $45. A
"made in China" version of Princess
with a P.E. tush tag and
"no-space" swing tag is currently worth from $10 to $15. All values in this article
apply to a Princess
in like-new condition with
mint swing and tush tags. Princess
swing tag is worth only one or two dollars.
When all is said and done, the value of a
bear is the amount a willing buyer will pay to a willing seller.
bears "correctly" listed as "first editions" at eBay
have been selling for the past month in a range from $15 to $50, with an
average overall "sold" price of approximately $32. The average "sold"
price fluctuates significantly from month to month but the selling range tends
to remain reasonably stable.
First Princess production in China
A "first version" of Princess
has the following
swing tag. Note that the text on the right side
of the swing tag does NOT have a line space
above "DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES". The left side
of the tag states "Handmade in China". We refer
to this swing tag as ST #1.
| Made in China, original production period
swing tags are often referred to by collectors as "space" or
"no-space". This is a reference to the last four lines of text on the right
inside of the swing tag. The "no-space" swing tag was attached to Princess
produced in China during the first production period and also for some of the
production in Indonesia. A "first edition" Princess
MUST have the "no-space" swing tag attached.
||"No-space" swing tag
|"Space" swing tag
The tush tag of a Princess
with the "no-space" swing tag can
show it is made from either P.V.C. or P.E.
pellets. Thus far, it has not been credibly
"proven" which version of the tush tag was actually attached to the
first run of Princess
bears produced in a Chinese factory. Most experts
believe however, that the P.V.C. tush tag came first.
We have spoken with
some of the Ty retailers who received the first shipments of Princess
the USA. Some say
all the tush tags were P.V.C.; some say there was one P.V.C. tush tag in every bag
of 12 Princess
bears (with the other 11 being P.E. tush tags); and one said he paid no attention to the tags
until customers started asking about the P.E. tush tag version. With so many
conflicting accounts from Ty retailers who received the first shipments of
, we can not determine for sure which tush tag arrived in the USA first,
much less which tush tag version was the first off an assembly line.
The "logical" assumption (and my personal conclusion) is that the P.V.C. tush tag came first because all
Ty Beanie Babies were filled with P.V.C. pellets until some time during the
Princess production cycle. Ty switched to P.E. pellets during
the period Princess
was being produced. It is possible Ty had P.E. tush
tags stockpiled in anticipation of the production change to P.E. pellets.
Chinese factory workers could have used the P.E. tags by mistake on Princess
still being filled with P.V.C. pellets or they might even have run out of the P.V.C. tush tags and decided to use what they had (the P.E. tags) instead of printing
more of the P.V.C. tags.
|P.V.C. tush tag
|P.V.C. tush tag
|P.E. tush tag
|P.E. tush tag
Princess production in Indonesia
The second version of Princess
was produced in Indonesia. It is worth
from $55 to
$80 with a P.V.C. tush tag and from $17 - $22 with a P.E. tush tag (with the
no-space swing tag). Collectors frequently ask why an Indonesian Princess
is sometimes more
valuable than a Princess
from the first production period in China? The
answer lies in the "mystique" surrounding all of the Beanie Babies produced in
Indonesia, not just Princess
. Indonesian Beanie Babies are reputed to have
richer-colored and softer fabrics. Princess
bears produced in Indonesia are much
more difficult to find on the secondary market than Princess
bears from the
first period of production in China.
bears made in Indonesia were destined for the Canadian and
European markets. This raises the possibility that Princess
Indonesia began on the same date as production in China. That would place the
bears made in Indonesia with no-space swing tags and P.V.C. tush tags
into contention for "first edition" status.
bears made in Indonesia can have a ST #2 (same as ST #1,
except that "Handmade in Indonesia" is printed on the inside bottom left of tag)
or the follow-on ST #3. Note that the text on the right side of ST #3 has a line
space above "DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES". An Indonesian Princess with ST #2
(no-space) and P.V.C. pellets is worth from $55 to $80. An Indonesian Princess
with ST #2 (no-space) and P.E. pellets is worth from $17 to $22. The Indonesian Princess with ST #3
(space) is worth from $12 to $17.
|Made in Indonesia (ST #2)
Made in Indonesia (ST #3)
The tush tag of a Princess
produced in Indonesia can show it is made
from either P.V.C. or P.E. pellets. We have seen either P.V.C. or P.E. tush tags
on the Indonesian Princess
with ST #2 (no-space), but only the P.E. tush tag on the
Indonesian Princess with ST #3 (space). There are reports of a P.V.C. tush tag on the
with a ST #3 (space), but we have not seen one in order to confirm
|P.V.C. tush tag
|P.V.C. tush tag
|P.E. tush tag
|P.E. tush tag
Ty discontinued production of Princess in Indonesia because of problems with
quality. Production was resumed in Chinese facilities. A change of production
like this from one country to another raises obvious questions. Answers to these
questions could have a
definite bearing on Princess
versions and values. Given the absence of
credible information or release of official documents from Ty however, these
questions may never be answered.
1. Did production in China and Indonesia begin
2. When Ty stopped production in Indonesia, were unused
fabrics and pellets transferred back to the new Chinese facilities? Were the
Chinese facilities new or were they the same ones used during the first
3. Did production in China continue
during the entire period of production in Indonesia?
4. During the post-Indonesia production period in China, was Princess
produced with tush tags omitting the Chinese factory stamp?
5. How many Princess
bears were actually made during the first
production period in China and the entire production period in Indonesia.
Post-Indonesia Princess production in China
bears made in China after production stopped in Indonesia are worth from $10
without a Chinese factory stamp inside the tush tag and $4 - $8 with the stamp.
made during this
period had a new version of the swing tag that shows "Handmade in China",
and a swing tag (ST #4) with a line
space above "DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES".
Made during second production period in China (ST #4)
Second production period in China (ST #4a)
"Gosport" misspelled "Gasport" on left inside of swing tag
bears made during the second period of production in China had the following tush tag. Most
(not all) of the tush tags
from this production period also had
a red stamp inside the tush tag that represents either a Chinese factory number,
production line or lot. It isn't known how many different numbered stamps there
are for Princess
. We can confirm the existence of numbers
400, 401, 403, 405, 410, 416, 418, 447,450, 464, 472, 474 and 481. Other
numbers like 433, 463, 466 and 487 have been reported but we can not confirm those.
When you look at the tag below with the number 481 inside the circular stamp, it
is easy to see why the last number might be interpreted to be a "7" instead of a
A logical "assumption" is that the numbers represent different
production lots of the Princess bears. Some collectors suggest the numbers
different Chinese factories. It should be noted that Princess was not the only
Beanie Baby produced with Chinese factory stamps inside the tush tags. Several
other Beanie Babies produced during that period also had various numbers inside
their tush tags.
|P.E. tush tag,
2nd China period
|P.E. tush tag,
2nd China period
|Tush tag (inside)
Chinese factory number,
2nd China period
Prices paid on eBay for Princess
bears from the second period of
production in China fluctuate erratically. Buyers have been paying from $2 to $15
for these versions. The actual value of Princess
bears from this period (with factory markings inside the tush tags) is approximately
$5 or less but novice purchasers become confused by the Chinese factory
markings; erroneously believing the number denotes a limited or special
production run. Some sellers take advantage of this confusion by placing extra
emphasis on the "number."
Many sellers also attempt to draw attention to their listing by stating the tush
tag on their Princess
has the red star next to the heart. That is
hardly consequential since ALL of the Princess
Beanie Baby bears have
the same red star.
Canada customs tags
The country of Canada has regulations that require a special tag be attached to
toy products imported from other countries. Referred to by most Ty collectors as
"extra Canadian tush tags", these tags were attached to Princess
bears produced in Indonesia and China (during the second production period) that were
destined to be sold by retailers in Canada. Collectors frequently add one or two
dollars to the value of any Beanie Baby that has a Canadian customs tag.
More information on the way
Collectors generally acknowledge that the Chinese and Indonesian versions of
are different because of the different Indonesian-made fabrics
used in production. A few collectors claim they have discovered additional differences in Princess
fabrics, embroidery, and color that suggest there are even more versions of Princess
than previously believed. Princess also exists in various sizes (heights) from
7.75 inches to 9.25 inches. To date, we have not seen a credible difference that
would relate the various sizes to the production timeline.
When this article
continues, we will examine some of the "variation" theories that address the
embroidered rose and its stem, along with differences in the shade of the
Princess purple fabric.
Counterfeit Alert !
Counterfeit versions of Princess exist. Check for the following
common indicators before purchasing this Beanie Baby:
1. The counterfeit Princess has a "made in China" no-space swing
tag and a P.V.C. tush tag.
2. The fabric on a counterfeit Princess can be lighter or darker
than the fabric on an authentic Princess, which makes it difficult to
identify a counterfeit solely based on fabric color.
3. The fabric on many counterfeit Princess Beanie Babies looks more
like flannel than the normal plush fabric used for Beanie Babies.
4. When you run your finger against the nap of the fabric on a
counterfeit Princess, it feels rougher than the fabric of an authentic Beanie
Baby. When brushing lightly back and forth across the fabric of an authentic
Beanie Baby the fabric is smooth and gives little resistance.
5. The neck ribbon of a counterfeit Princess is well made but only
finished on one side. The other side is dull. The ribbon on an authentic
Princess is finished on both sides. The ribbon on some counterfeit Princess
Beanies is also slightly wider than the ribbon an an authentic Princess.
6. The stem of the rose embroidered on the chest of a counterfeit
Princess may be slightly wider and fuller than the stem of the rose on an
7. The swing tag on a counterfeit Princess can have several flaws
including uneven width of the gold border around the tag, incorrect red color
and incorrect or off-center spacing of the writing inside the yellow star.
Note: It is possible for a Princess itself to be authentic but to have a
counterfeit/replacement ribbon and/or counterfeit swing tag. Since the value of
a Beanie Baby decreases so markedly when it has no swing tag, counterfeiters
have been known to acquire authentic Princess Beanie Babies without their swing
tags and/or ribbons and then add the counterfeit ribbons and tags to bring the
value back up.
beaniemom.com (discontinued in 2004)
magazine, Spring 1998, Trend Masters Publications
Ongoing "Completed (sold) listings" for Princess
Beanie Babies at
values listed in this article are derived from eBay and
other known secondary market sales. Values on this page are updated every four
to six weeks based on sales activity for the previous four to six week period.
Swing tag, tush tag and Princess Beanie Baby photos provided by Leon and Sondra
Schlossberg, curators of the tycollector.com Ty Museum collection.