Even if you did not own “Teddy” as a kid, you most certainly had at least one stuffed animal that you carried around or described your day to when you got back home. Today, if you walk across a window shopping area and your eye catches “Teddy” looking at you from behind the glass, you will probably feel the inclination to get inside the store and touch its fur. Perhaps you will even buy the staffed animal, even if you have no kid to give it to, since some teddy bears have become expensive collector’s items.
The teddy bear made its entrance in late 1902, appearing in the same year in two different countries: Germany and the United States. According to the story, while President Theodore Roosevelt was at Mississippi to help settle a boarder dispute between that state and Louisiana, his hosts wanting to please this avid hunter took him bear hunting. But since the hunting was poor, when they finally managed to capture a bear, the President’s hosts invited him to shoot the poor animal. Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot the unprotected animal, was illustrated by Clifford Berrymnan’s in one of his cartoons, titled “Drawing the Line in Mississippi.” After it’s publication in the Washington Post on November 16, 1902, a number of people were inspired by the image and Morris and Rose Michtom from Brooklyn, NY, decided to make a stuffed animal, a bear, in honor of the president’s actions. They named the bear “Teddy’s bear,” denoting the close relationship between President Roosevelt and the saved animal. Their sweet, innocent small stuffed bear became an instant hit and the Michtoms founded the first teddy bear manufacturing company in the United States, named Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
At the same time, literally, a former art student, Richard Steiff, made a prototype of a toy bear that was based on Richard’s designs. When a few months later he introduced his first bear, an American toy buyer, who was aware of the interest in teddy bears in U.S., ordered 3,000 and brought Steiff in the States offering him the opportunity of a life time.
After years of mass-production, the teddy bear comeback was initiated by a British actor, Peter Bull, who in 1969 publicly declared his love for teddy bears and his belief in this stuffed animal’s importance in the emotional life of adults. Since then, collectors have been purchasing the hand-made teddy bears and in 1999, in just the United States, collectors purchased $411 million worth of teddy bears. In addition, the ongoing interest in this lovely stuffed animal by kids and adults, will keep its legend alive for years to come.