History of Teddy bears all started because Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear, which in the end got him the nickname “Teddy.” Yes, it is true there were toys that had bears on them, but they did not actually have stuffed teddy bears before 1902.
It seems that in November 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt (‘Teddy’) traveled to Mississippi to settle a border dispute between Louisiana and Mississippi. The President, having a little free time, went on a hunting trip.
The hunting party men he was with wanted him to take something back for his troubles and found a small black bear cub. They tied bear cub to a tree for him to shoot. Seeing how helpless the small bear was he refused. he didn’t want to shoot it because it had no mother, was injured, and tied to a tree or just because of its size.
Hearing the tale, political cartoonist Clifford Berryman drew a cartoon showing Roosevelt refusing to shoot the bear. This prompted shopkeeper, Morris Michtom, asked his wife, Rose, to make a teddy bear to place in his shop window. Morris Michtom contacted the President asking his permission to name the stuffed bear, “Teddy”. The president agreed and the Teddy Bear was born. Morris Michtom named his store The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company, and began the first Teddy Bear factory in the United States.
At the same time in Germany was another company making teddy bears. “Steiff Company” was creating bears that actually looked like the real thing. This company, owned by Margarete Steiff, has been making toys since 1880.
Margarete’s nephew, Richard Steiff, after seeing performing bears at a traveling circus, had an idea to make a toy bear that stood upright. Richard was a good artist and after visiting a nearby Stuttgar zoo to make sketches of the bears, designed the first jointed bear. The bear was 2 feet tall and, because of the jointed arms and legs, was able to stand upright or on all 4 legs just as a real bear could. Margarete’s Company creations wouldn’t be discovered by the Americans until 1903 at a toy fair, which had them ordering over 3000 bears.
One can see why teddy bears became so famous, if it wasn’t for their cute expressions and cuddliness I think they would’ve gone extinct. Today, you might see teddy bears in a bedroom, store window, commercials, cartoons or even in books. Teddy bears are everywhere and it’s all because of one man refusing to shoot an innocent bear.