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Teddy Bears-The History Of The Teddy

Updated on September 25, 2010

Who Invented The Teddy Bear?

Collecting teddy bears is a world-wide phenomenon! For more than a hundred years teddies have been loved and confided in as childhood companions, and since the 1970s have risen in popularity as a collectable for adults. Whether because they bring back those warm childhood memories of a best friend, or through their endearing faces, teddies just seem to draw themselves to us!

Unlike many other collectables, teddy bears have character and appeal that endears them in a way far beyond merely being investments.

History Of The Teddy

During the late 19th century, bears were a popular theme in the toy industry, especially in Germany. The “Black Forest Bears” of Germany and Switzerland were carved in wood, with the first soft toy bears being produced in the late 1890s. These bears were realistic, on all fours, and often on wheels. Automatons were also produced, in which a key-wound mechanism allowed the bear to “perform” actions. Books, such as Goldilocks And The Three bears, and postcards were also popular.

The First Teddy Bear

Having begun making soft toys in Germany in 1886, Margarete Steiff’s firm first made their “ Bar 55PB” in 1902. Late the same year, President Teddy Roosevelt inspired a cartoon by Clifford K Berryman in the Washington Post, humorously illustrating an incident on a bear hunt in which the President refused to shoot a bear cub tied to a tree. The cub, through subsequent cartoons in 1903, became known as Teddy. That year, Hermann Berg, a US toy buyer, bought 3000 of Steiff’s jonted teddies at the Leipzig Toy Fair. Also in 1903, Morris Michtom, a US store owner in Brooklyn, was inspired by the cartoon of Roosevelt to produce his “Teddy” bear, which founded the US teddy making industry.

Within five years, by 1908, the Steiff teddy bear had risen dramatically in popularity to sales of over 975,000!

The teddy was German-born, then named in the US!


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