Teddy Bear History


Everyone should know that the name "teddy" for a toy bear came into being in 1902 from a cartoon published in the Washington Post. At the time, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (who hated being referred to in the newspapers as 'Teddy') loved hunting and exploring. On a trip to Mississippi, several hunters cornered an American black bear, clubbed it, and tied it to a willow tree; they suggested that Roosevelt shoot it, who refused - although he did instruct them to put the animal out of its misery. And so cartoonist Clifford Berryman depicted the incident.


Inspired by the cartoon, Morris Michtom created a bear cub toy and named it "Teddy's bear" after receiving permission from the President. Of course, the toy instantly became popular, so Michtom began The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in Brooklyn, New York to manufacture teddy bears.


Around the same time - and given the lack of communication between countries, it's quite believable - in Germany, Richard Steiff of the Margarete Steiff Felt Toy Factory, also produced a stuffed bear. Although his aunt Margarete wasn't convinced, Richard knew the toy with moveable arms and legs, mohair fur, and that sweet bear face, would be popular. He exhibited his toy bear at the Leipzig Toy Fair in March 1903. By 1906, Steiff bears were selling in the U.S. as "Teddy Bears" after Theodore ”Teddy“ Roosevelt. Steiff bears still have a button in their ear as a brand designation.

A teddy bear from the early 1900s from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Here is the Margarete Steiff Anniversary bear with a necklace that includes her photo. I could not resist adding MS Margarete to my collection!

And here is a Classic "growler" Steiff bear, with soft fluffy fur. I haven't named this bear yet.

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