A Teddy Bear is a pure staple of children’s toys. Existing for over 100 Years pretty much nearly every child has had one on their bedside or to hug at night since they were invented. The following post is all about the history of the Teddy Bear and facts you may not have known.
The first and original Teddy Bears were “allegedly” invented at the same time by toymakers Morris Michtom in the U.S. and Richard Steiff in Germany in the early years of the 20th century.
The Teddy Bear was named after the then president of the united states at the time “Mr. Theodore Roosevelt” who was simply known as his shorter nickname “Teddy”.
It was named after the former president because of a cartoon posted in the Washington Post Newspaper by Clifford Berryman’s displaying the president putting his hand up and looking away from a black bear getting lassoed around the neck.
This Cartoon was based off the hunting trip Theodore went on a few days prior in Mississippi. The bears and guides he was with managed to tie a black bear to a willow tree for President Roosevelt to shoot since he had not shot any for the three days they had been hunting for. But Roosevelt looked at the bear and completely refused to shoot it. He felt doing so would be unsportsmanlike. Despite this, it was injured and suffering, Roosevelt then ordered that the bear be put down to end its pain.
Someone who saw the original cartoon of Roosevelt was shop owner Morris Michtom. After seeing it he put in his shop window two stuffed toy bears that his wife had made. Michtom asked permission from President Roosevelt to call these toy bears “Teddy’s Bears”. The quick and rising popularity of these bears led to Morris Michtom mass-producing them by eventually forming the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
At roughly the same time the Germany company Steiff started making stuffed bears. Margaret Steiff made her living by sewing stuffed animals such as elephants. In 1903, an American who saw one of the stuffed bears she had made and ordered loads of them for himself. The bears that Steiff was making also came to be known as Teddy Bears. Although Steiff and Michtom were both making teddy bears at around the same time, neither would have known of the other’s creation due to poor transatlantic communication.
After the success of teddy bears being brought out to the market, many other publications were featuring these new and exciting stuffed teddy bears. In 1906 the North American educator and writer Seymour Eaton wrote the children’s book series The Roosevelt Bears, while composer John Walter Bratton wrote an instrumental “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”, in 1907. This was only the instrumental of course words were then written to it by lyricist Jimmy Kennedy in 1932.
Teddy Bears have evolved slowly over time with the very earliest teddy bears made to look like real bears, with extended snouts and beady eyes. More modern teddy bears usually have larger eyes and foreheads and smaller nose these baby like features are made to enhance the toy’s cuteness. Teddy bears are also manufactured to represent different species of bear, such as polar bears and grizzly bears, as well other stuffed animals like as pandas, dogs, cats, bunnies and monkeys.
Nowadays when teddy bears are made they are marketed at children, the bears must have securely fastened on eyes so that they do not become a choking hazard. These “plush” bears must meet a strict standard of construction to be sold on the market in both the United States and in the European Union.
Companies like Steiff as mentioned previously decide to instead sell handmade luxury collectable bears at a higher price for collectors to buy.
Steiff continue to be a pioneer of the luxury teddy bear market industry across the world. Most of the bears sold at auction have been Steiff made. Here are two examples
Steiff Teddy Girl
Teddy Girl is a teddy bear that was owned and cherished by Colonel Bob Henderson. When Bob was a baby in 1905 he and his brothers named the bear “Teddy Boy”. From a young age him and his family were made aware of his love for teddy bears. Even when Robert was much older and had joined the military in the Royal Scots Regiment. He would always have a small teddy bear in his tunic pocket. When his daughter was born in 1942 he gave the teddy bear to her and she renamed it “Teddy Girl”. Bob then set out to devote his time to collecting various teddy bears and wondering and figuring out why they are so popular for a companion amongst children. He also set up the now famous “Good Bears of The World”, the charitable organisation that raises money to send out various Teddy Bears to children who are in hospital all around the world. Because of this work and story “Teddy Girl” was sold at auction in 1994 for £110,000 (213,400.00 in today’s money) by the Izu Teddy bear Museum in Japan and to this day still resides there.
Steiff’s Louis Vuitton Bear.
This is the most expensive teddy bear ever sold at auction. In 2000 Steiff teamed up in partnership with luxury clothing and fashion brand Louis Vuitton. With Sapphire and Diamonds in the teddy’s eyes, the bear being limited edition it’s no wonder that this teddy bear sold at auction for around $2.1 Million. It was purchased by Jesse Kim of Korea in 2000. Currently the bear resides in the Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju, Korea.
The Impact and Legacy that Teddy Bears have left on society is nothing short of huge.
The Total Retail Sales of Plush toys including teddy bears surpassed 1.7 Billion Dollars in 2010.
“Gund” and “Ty Inc” are the biggest brands to be sold when it comes to Teddy Bears. “Build a Bear workshop” is also a huge player in the teddy bear market having tons of stores worldwide.
Various TV shows have the teddy bear depicted. This includes such examples as the Teddy Bear from Mr. Bean which he has by his side constantly. Pudsey Bear is also the mascot for the large UK Charity “Children in Need”. The other two most famous bears are “Paddington Bear” a fictional character made famous by its several novels and films. The character was created by Michael Bond in 1958. The other is “Pooh Bear” more commonly known as “Winnie-the-Pooh” who was created by A. A. Milne which was based on a teddy bear owned by his son Christopher Robin several books, TV shows and films have been made on Winnie the Pooh.
Teddy Bears are a pure staple and will remain one when it comes to Children’s toys. Many collectors being obsessed with them. Steiff bears are the most well-known for collecting. Teddy Bears are a symbol of youth and are aimed and cherished by children with nearly all children across the western world having one at some point during their childhood.