Teddy Bear History
2002 marked the 100th birthday of the teddy bear. To many it comes as a surprise that this major 20th century icon and childhood classic is younger than electric light, the telephone and the motor car. Here is a brief history of the worlds cuddliest toy.
In 1902, US President Roosevelt was in the process of settling a dispute between the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. Being a keen hunter, he was taken on an unsuccessful shooting trip. The only bear that was trapped was so small and pitiful looking that the president refused to shoot it, considering it to be not sporting.
The next day a cartoon of this incident appeared on the front page of the Washington Post. In New York, a shopkeeper, Morris Michton, displayed a bear in the window of his stationery and novelty store. His wife Rose had made it from plush stuffed excelsior and finished with black eyes. The toy became very popular and President Roosevelt gave permission for them to be named 'Teddy Bears'. (The president was personally known as Teddy).
This huge success in the States was mirrored in Germany, with Margaret Steiff, of the Steiff Company, producing its first jointed stuffed bears during the same 1902-1903 period. An American buyer saw them at the Leipzig Fair in 1903, and ordered several thousand for shipment to the US. So teddy bears are 100 years old. They are the world's third most collectable item, after stamps and coins. The highest price fetched for an antique Steiff teddy bear is $250,000!
Over the years the teddy bear has undergone many design changes, with modern bears having fatter bodies and shorter limbs, but what hasn't changed is the worlds love of this cuddly stuffed toy.
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