Many people out there – no matter what their age – still have a soft spot for their favourite teddy bear or cuddly toy. I’ll admit that my old, threadbare ‘Orange Ted’ still sits in the corner in one of my draws.
But even though teddy bears are one of the most popular children’s toys in history, just how much do you really know about teddy bears?
Not that much was my answer – which is why I set about compiling a section on the history of teddy bears for our web site.
I was surprised to find out that teddy bears are younger than the electric light, the telephone and the motor car! The teddy bear was “invented” simultaneously in the US and Europe at the beginning of the 20th century.
The first ‘Teddys Bear’
It was in 1902, when American President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub while hunting, that the idea for ‘Teddy’ bears came into existence. The event was depicted in a cartoon, which was seen by Morris Michtom, a US Russian Jewish immigrant, the following year.
He wrote to the President requesting permission to name a toy bear after him. The ‘Teddys Bear’ was born and became so popular that Morris Michtom became a founding partner in the first teddy bear manufacturing company in the United States, known as the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
The European teddy bear
By complete coincidence, in 1902 Margarete Steiff, included a Steiff plush bear in her catalogue, which was based on drawings by her nephew, Richard Steiff. When it was introduced at the Leipzig Toy Fair, in March 1903, ‘Baer 55PB’ was snapped up by an American toy buyer, who was aware of the growing American interest.
By 1906, the demand for teddy bears had turned into a craze and these lovable toys were here to stay.
In the “About Teddy Bears” section of our web site you can: