The History of the Teddy Bear

It is hard to imagine a world of stuffed animals without teddy bears; they are a staple item of every toy collection. Oddly enough, the teddy bear did not develop simply as a stuffed version of a real bear. In fact, the teddy bear has only been around since the early years of the twenty century.

According to most sources, the teddy bear first surfaced in both the United States and Germany in 1902. Popular recounts of the bear's initial appearance in North America starts with a cartoon drawn by Clifford Berryman, called "Drawing the Line in Mississippi". The comic showed then-President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a small, cuddly-looking bear. As legend states, Roosevelt had visited Mississippi to assist in a border dispute and during the trip, was taken bear hunting. Berryman was inspired to create the cartoon, displaying a recount of Roosevelt's failed hunting experience and his attempt to play mediator.

The cartoon appeared in The Washington Post in late 1902 and was an instant hit with readers, leading to its contemporary publication nationwide. Even Brooklyn-based Morris and Rose Michtom were motivated to design a stuffed animal that reflected the drawing, calling it 'Teddy's Bear. "The Michtoms placed the bear in their store window and its popularity was so quickly that, in conjunction with the Butler Brothers , they helped to establish the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company – the first American manufacturer dedicated to the production of teddy bears.

During the same time, Margarete Steiff and her nephew Richard Steiff were involved in the stuffed toy business in Germany. Ironically, Richard created a new stuffed animal design that featured a softer-looking, cuddly bear – similar to the Michtom's. Today, it is easy for designers and developers to research toy ideas and determine whether or not something has been done already, but in the early twenty century, it was very likely that none was designer aware of the progress of the other.

The following year, the Steiffs unveiled their first bear, "Baer 55PB", at a toy fair. An American toy buyer saw the bear and was immediately intrigued, on account of the teddy bear fad sweeping his home country at the time.

It was only 4 years after the creation of the first teddy bear that its popularity tremend incredibly. Teddy bears were featured on home products and collectibles, magazines were produced, and songs were developed in honor of the newest bear craze. Of course, teddy bears were a hit with children, who revealed in the appeal and gentleness of the teddy bear as we know it today.