Sunday, October 20, 2013


The Teddy Bear is so much a part of our lives, that it is hard to believe he was only invented in 1902, and is named after Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, the famous hunting President of the U.S.A. For years, the claim to have made the first Teddy Bear had been disputed between America and Germany - and in some ways, both countries made the first Teddy.
The Story begins in Germany, in late October 1902, where Richard Steiff, a toy designer working for the family firm in Giengen, went to a touring American circus in search of an idea for a popular new toy. Among the animals he saw there was a troupe of performing bears, and they sparked off the original idea. The following day, he put his thoughts down on paper for Margarete Steiff, his Aunt, who had founded the firm in 1880.
Richard saw an opportunity to make a bear toy, standing upright, and jointed in a similar way to dolls. There had been bear toys before, of course - often made from real fur - but, these had all been copies of real bears and on all fours. Richard's bear would be able to walk upright. Margarete Steiff liked the idea, and Richard set to work on visiting Zoo's to sketch the bears and come up with some proper designs.
Richard admiring his Bear
Meanwhile, several thousand miles away, the other half of the Teddy Bear story was about to begin. President Roosevelt, visiting Mississippi to settle a border dispute, decided to go out hunting for the day. After several hours, he still hadn't bagged anything; when one of his aides discovered a lost bear cub wandering through the woods. Catching it, he tied it to a tree and brought the President to it - here was his trophy for the day! To Roosevelt's eternal credit, he couldn't bring himself to shoot the defenseless cub, and ordered it to be set free.
The press pack following Roosevelt's  visit heard about the story, and it inspired cartoonist Clifford Berryman to draw a cartoon of the incident entitled "Drawing the Line in Mississippi". This cartoon was printed in all the papers, and triggered a moment of inspiration for Brooklyn candy store owner Morris Michtom. Using Berryman's cartoon as a guide, he quickly worked out a pattern, and his wife had soon put together a little jointed toy bear cub, which Morris put into his shop window with a copy of the cartoon and a handwritten notice saying "Teddy's Bear".
The bears sold like wildfire, and within a year, Michtom closed his candy store and founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. - still one of the biggest toy firms in the world over 90 years later.
Back in Germany, unaware of what was going on in New York, Richard Steiff completed the designs for his toy bear, and Margarete quickly ran up a prototype from scraps of mohair cloth. The bear first appeared in public at the 1903 Spring Toy Fair at Leipzig, but - to Richard's disappointment, nobody seemed interested. Legend has it that it was only as Richard was packing away the stand at the end of the fair, that an American toy buyer came up to him, seized the bear and ordered 3000 on the spot.
.....AND, so the "Teddy Bear" was born, and sent on his way to international success.
This is my "Teddy Bear" ( Mr. Megarity), and he has been a  family member for just over 45 years.....and YES, he has varied outfits for many occasions - n all seasons - a playful part of a playful heart and mind that will long remain.


DJan said...

Oh, I LOVE this story, Saucy. I have a dozen teddy bears collected over the years, and they are friends I enjoy having with me wherever I live. I didn't know about the origin of the teddy bear. Thank you! :-)

Gail said...

Wonderful story.

What happened to presidents like that? Where did they go?

Red said...

Great post that gives an interesting history of a popular toy. I suppose there are neat stories behind every famous toy.
I like your Teddy with his stylish clothes!

Jackie said...

And who doesn't love a Teddy Bear....
So matter how old one is.

Linda Wildenstein said...

I was aware of this tale of two teddy bears but it always great to read again. Isn't it funny that it happened so close in time and that the Teddy Bear is still such a huge part of the toy market.
I love Mr. Megarity. And what a clever bear he is to be so flexible in his wardrobe. I have my brother's bear that he was given back in 1938. The poor dear is so worn that we just keep him in the show case and don't bother him much. My bear however has lived through my daughter and both her kids and is a wreak and we still parade Just Bearly out for holidays too.
Great post. Oma Linda

biebkriebels said...

That is an interesting post you made. I had heard about the story of the Teddy bear but didn't know exactly all about it. Thanks for explaining. When I watch your little dog while typing this comment, right looking at me in his Pet Pool, he reminds me a bit of a little teddybear too. You have your own living teddybear now!

Jana said...

WOWWWW, I really enjoyed the story behind the Teddybear...thanks so much for these from autumn-ly tulipland:-)

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

The story of Teddy Roosevelt's bear is sometimes included with Teddy bears you buy. I believe one of mine had a story with it.
I would love to own a Stieff bear but they are very expensive. Maybe one day but the more time that passes, the more I doubt it.

What a neat post, Lilly! :)

Yep..Grandson's do come in handy.

Anonymous said...

I loved the story about Teddy Roosevelt and how the bear came about very interesting. ML🎃👻

genie said...

Joyce Kernes Goodwin has a new book out on Teddy and Taft and I cannot wait to read it. I know this story well. It is a great one. Like your pictures and story. Am reading a the neatest book...Janette Oakes “When Calls the Heart.” It is the first in her series of 7 or 8 books that I read about it on another blog. I LOVE IT? Set near Lacombe, Alberta. There are like 7 or 8 books in the series so I am gonna be in hog heaven.Also, our new neighbor down the road a couple of miles has been living in remote Alaska...a special ed person...who has been flying in and out of the remote areas helping reachers with their SPED students. He is great. Will be posting about him in the future...his patch of land it totally self contained...he does it all. My kind of guy.