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The History Of The Teddy Bear

This is an exert from the book "The Art of Making Teddy Bears" by Australian Bear Artist- Jennifer Laing. This is a terrific book for beginners, covering all aspects of bear making in great detail. Highly Recommended 
Available via our on-line store for A$29.95.

Since prehistoric times bears have played an important role in worship, myth, folklore and children's tales. Realistic toy bears became popular in mid-nineteenth century Germany as pull-along toys on wheels, and bears on their hind legs resembling circus bears. It was not, however until 1902/1903 that the first teddy bear was made. Both the Americans and the Germans claim credit for the first bear, but this is what happened.

In November 1902, the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt went down to settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. A keen hunter, he was taken on an unsuccessful bear hunt. The only bear that could be flushed from the woods was so small and pitiful that the President refused to shoot it.

The incident was reported in the Washington Post and the cartoonist Clifford K.

Berryman drew a cartoon of Roosevelt and the bear, captioned "Drawing the line in Mississippi" The drawing of the little bear was quite endearing, and the cartoon created quite a stir.

Morris Michtom, a novelty shop owner in Brooklyn, New York, had his wife make some jointed toy bears to sell in their shop. They were a great success and apparently Mr Michtom wrote to the President (who was known personally as Teddy), asking if he could use the President's name and call his toys Teddy's Bears. The President is said to have replied to the effect that he did not think his name would be worth much in the toy bear business, but Michtom was welcome to use it. Michtom's bears were so successful that he went on to form the largest toy business in America, The Ideal Toy Company.

At the same time in Germany the Steiff Company, a small family firm of toymakers, added a stuffed bear to its range. Richard Steiff, a nephew of the founder Margaret Steiff, produced a fully jointed bear for the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903. There a buyer for the George Borgfeldt Company in New York fell for it and promptly ordered three thousand of them. The Steiff Company never looked back and by 1907 Steiff Bear production had reached 975,000 per annum.

The Ideal Company continued until 1982, when it was acquired by CBS Inc. and although the company still produces toys it no longer makes teddy bears. Steiff on the other hand, continues to make some of the best quality toys and bears in the world today.

Although there may be some confusion as to who actually made the first teddy bear, there is no doubt about their lasting popularity. Teddy Bears are here to stay.

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