BEAR HISTORY

HISTORY OF THE BEAR

The origin of the teddy bear dates back to 1902. It seems that President Theodore Roosevelt took a little hunting trip down in Mississippi and when he refused to shoot an exhausted bear tied to a tree, declaring it to be unsportsmanlike, the Washington Post called attention to the event.

An ensuring editorial cartoon drew national attention and before long, an enterprising Brooklyn merchant capitalized on the opportunity. Shopkeeper Morris Michtoms wife handmade several plush toys bears stuffed with excelsior and decorated with black shoe button eyes. With Roosevelts knowledge and blessing, they were dubbed Teddy Bears. The fuzzy bears gained popularity and as demand increased, Mictom relocated his business to a larger space and renamed it the Ideal Novelty and Toy Corporation.

About the same time, Steiff began producing jointed stuffed bears in Germany. An American buyer viewed them at the 1903 Leipzig Fair and imported several thousand to sell in the United States. Now collectors clamour to find these treasures, many marked with a distinctive button in the ear.

Other companies have produced teddies throughout the years, including Bing and Farnell, which can also be very expensive when found in excellent condition. But no matter how they look, faithful collectors love them all.