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18 Unique Facts About the History of the Teddy Bear

Dhanashree Patane
The Teddy Bear has ruled the toy world ever since time immemorial. Did you know that this cute toy has an interesting history? Read to know all about how the Teddy Bear came into the toy world.

Did you know?

The stuffed bear was called 'Teddy Bear', after the 26th President of United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt, who was commonly called by the name 'Teddy'. November 14 is celebrated as the National American Teddy Bear Day!
Soft toys are loved by most of us. Girls adore them, kids love them, while adults too have a good collection of these cute animal replicas. Undoubtedly, the Teddy Bear rules over the rest when it comes to soft, stuffed toys.
Was the Teddy Bear just another toy invention? Not really. Most of you will be surprised to know that the modern-day Teddy Bear actually has a political influence and inspiration.
It is hard to believe, but true that this humble, 'cuddly-bear' toy is not a very old invention. The Teddy Bear was invented in 1902. It has since captured the hearts of people around the world.
We went through the history of the toy world to find out what inspired and assembled this creation. Till date, there is a dispute regarding the invention of Teddy Bear between America and Germany. So, now, we can say both the countries have credit to inventing this toy at the same time!

Teddy Bear History

There are two stories that make the birth of Teddy Bear in the toy world, however, as discussed earlier, there also is a political touch to the invention of this toy.

The Birth of Teddy Bear in America

★ In 1902, the President of the United Sates of America, Theodore Roosevelt, was visiting the state of Mississippi to settle a border dispute with Louisiana.
★ An avid hunter, the President went on a hunting trip with his friends. After many hours of hunting, he still had not bagged a big game. One of his aides, however, found a bear cub wandering in the wild. (Some versions say the cub was lost and injured.) Upon spotting this bear, his aides brought him to the sight of the President, and tied him to a tree.
★ The aides captured the bear so the President could claim his prize for the hunting trip. They asked him to shoot the bear. However, the president thought of it to be 'un-sportsman-like', and decided to leave the bear without killing it.
★ Well, another version of this same story says that the bear cub was badly injured. Perhaps the dogs that accompanied the hunters to track and flush down prey had injured the bear, and he was bleeding profusely.
★ It is believed the sight of the helpless bear tied to the tree kept him from claiming the life of the bear cub. He then asked for the bear to be free, and also instructed all those with him to spare the cub's life and set him free.
(This story also has a less famous angle, which says that since the bear was badly injured, the president decided to free him from suffering and pain, so he killed the bear that very instant.)
★ Most records go by the version which says that he let the bear free. The media soon got to hear the story of the president's kind act. During those times, Clifford K. Berryman was a famous political cartoonist for the Washington Post. Moved by this incident, the cartoonist then illustrated the event.
★ The cartoon showed President Theodore Roosevelt holding a gun, with his back towards the bear. His gestures portray refusal to kill the bear. The sketch has a punch line that read, 'Drawing the Line in Mississippi'.
★ This illustration was published in the Washington Post, and was liked by one and all. People loved the fact that the President, who generally kept a strong exterior image, had a kind and soft heart within.
★ The illustration became a rage. Soon after this, a toy store owner in New York City, Morris Michtom, was inspired by the cartoon illustration. He created a small cute bear resembling the one in the illustration, and placed one on his store window display. He also placed a sign next to the toy, which read - 'Teddy's Bear'.
★ The toy became popular in no time, and demand began to soar. Michtom asked for the president's permission to use 'Teddy' as the official name for the bear, which was also the president's common name. Permission was granted and the toy was named 'Teddy Bear'!

The Birth of Teddy Bear in Germany

★ While the Americans were inventing the toy, several hundred miles away in Germany, a man named Richard Steiff and his aunt Margarete Steiff were working on designing new soft toys.
★ Richard Steiff got inspiration from the animals he saw at the local zoo, and made a stuffed soft toy of a bear. This bear was christened 'Friend Petz', and was displayed in a local fair called the Leipzig Fair, in 1903.
★ In the beginning, nobody seemed to be interested in the bear toy at the fair. But, just as Richard Steiff was about to pack them all and close the exhibit, an American man noticed them. He like them so much that he immediately placed an order of 3,000 bears.

Thus, Teddy Bear was born in Germany, during the same time that it was being sewn in America.

Teddy Bear's Journey Since Invention

★ After the invention of the Teddy Bear, this toy craze nearly swept the entire globe. Soon after this, President Theodore Roosevelt made the Teddy Bear his official mascot for his political campaigns.
★ In America, Michtom sold these under Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., which mainly supplied the homeland. In Germany, the Steiffs made more subtle and cute versions of the Teddy Bear, which ruled the European markets.
★ Many competitors later joined the race to make toy bears, post World War I. The 1920s saw more companies making this toy. Though World War II affected the production of Teddy Bears everywhere, its production picked up pace again after everything got back to normal.
★ New and prettier designs of the Teddy Bear were introduced in the global market. The 1970s saw even adults fancying the soft toy with great interest. The new designs were appealing indeed. As more and more people began to know about the history of the Teddy Bear, the demand for old bears and designs increased even further.
★ The Steiffs then produced the first ever edition of old bears, (replica bears), aimed at attracting more soft toy collectors than kids, in the 1980s. In 1984, the world's first bear museum was opened in England.
Ever since, 'Teddy Bear' mania has never dropped. People still enjoy this stuffed toy, irrespective of the revolution in the toy world.