The Story of the Teddy Bear

Stuffed animals have been children's best friends for thousands of years. Whether you call them stuffed animals, stuffed animals, comforters, teddy bears, stuffed animals, or whatever name you give them, chances are you've had one or more throughout your life.

Stuffed toys are the holy grail of toys given to young children, used as safety and comfort devices and far more popular than almost any other type of toy.

In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who didn't have a favorite stuffed animal when they were little. Nowadays, we find stuffed animals of all shapes , stuffed animals, monsters, aliens and we even managed to get the moon to make a stuffed moon !

If you're curious like us, you've probably wondered who invented stuffed animals or why teddy bears are called "teddy bears"? Who has the largest collection of teddy bears in the world? How much do vintage teddy bears sell for? for auction?

In fact, the history of stuffed animals is interesting and notable and dates back more than two centuries. In recent years, some teddy bears have become expensive collector's items. The world's first teddy bear museum was established in 1984 in Petersfield, Hampshire, England.

1) What is the origin of stuffed animals? The rag dolls of ancient Rome and Egypt

Cultures around the world have created animal replicas since the beginning of written history, painting, carving, and even chiseling animal figures and heads. In fact, while the modern stuffed animal dates back to the late 19th century, the ancient world produced the first true stuffed toys in Roman times, with the creation of rag dolls.

In ancient Rome, privileged children often played with very expensive wooden animal sculptures. Poor families could not afford such luxuries, so they made rag dolls out of straw and pieces of cloth for children to play with. Ancient Egyptian children also created and played with rag dolls stuffed with straw, beans, cotton, or wool.

Historical records indicate that the ancient Egyptians probably used stuffed animals in their special ceremonies, since the Egyptians worshiped many animals. Some of these dolls (including those that children played with) date back to 300 BC

2) Who invented stuffed animals?

After that, the stuffed animals disappeared. Throughout the centuries, people have always and above all made cloth dolls.

So who invented stuffed animals as we know them today?

In 1880, German seamstress Margarete Steiff began producing stuffed elephants following a pattern she found in a magazine. She sold them as pincushions, but she soon began making them as toys when she noticed that local children were playing with them. She thus developed the first stuffed animals of the modern era. Within six years she sold more than 5,000, and by the 1890s her Steiff company was producing a variety of stuffed animals, including dogs, cats and pigs, most of which were designed by herself.

This family business is still operating today. And we can say that he invented stuffed animals ! In 1897, Margarete's nephew Richard Steiff joined the company. In 1902-1903 he created the teddy bear. Around the same time, Morris Michtom in the United States also made a teddy bear. (See in the third paragraph.)

You might think that Steiff bears were popular in Europe, but at first that wasn't the case. Ironically, it was thanks to an American buyer who acquired the 100 teddy bears that were first displayed at the Lepzig Toy Fair. He also ordered 3,000 more. A year later, the company sold 12,000 bears at the St. Louis World's Fair . In just five years it has increased its production to 974,000 bears and continues to increase them.

The teddy bears weren't hard enough. Little by little Steiff began to manufacture all kinds of stuffed animals and other manufacturers joined the market. At first, stuffed animals were mainly made of fabric, faux fur, and plush. The filling was made of straw, wood wool and beans. Steiff strived to offer the highest quality plush toys possible and therefore began to develop new techniques.

Nowadays, stuffed animals are made with all kinds of materials. Some even imitate real fur. Stuffed animals also include foam, cotton, plastic balls, synthetic fibers, etc. Others have wire frames in their bodies, allowing them to stand freely or move their legs, for example.

3) How did the teddy bear get its name?

A- President Roosevelt and the black bear

The stuffed animal is named after American President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.

After a political cartoonist made Teddy Roosevelt's 1902 sporting act legendary, his name was forever etched in a childhood classic. This 1902 comic strip published in the Washington Post was the inspiration behind the birth of the teddy bear.

Wrapped in boxes, paper and bows, teddy bears have been lovingly placed under Christmas trees for generations, to the delight of little ones around the world. But the teddy bear is an American original : its story begins with a vacation taken by President Theodore Roosevelt.

In the spring of 1902, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) was on strike, seeking shorter work days and higher wages in a coal industry suffering from oversupply and low profits. The mine owners had welcomed the strike because they could not legally stop production; It allowed them to save on wages and at the same time increase demand and prices.

Neither side was prepared to give in and, fearing a deadly shortage of coal in winter, Roosevelt decided to intervene , menaçant d'envoyer des troupes dans le Midwest pour reprendre les mines d'anthracite si les deux parties ne parvenaient pas à an agreement. Throughout the fall, despite the risk of a major political setback, Roosevelt met with union representatives and coal mine operators. In late October, when temperatures began to drop, the union and the owners reached an agreement.

B- The story of Teddy Bear (Teddy Bear) and Roosevelt

After averting this disaster, Roosevelt decides he needs a vacation and accepts Mississippi Governor Andrew Longino's invitation to travel south for a hunting trip . Longino is the first Mississippi governor elected after the Civil War who is not a Confederate veteran and will soon face a re-election fight against James Vardaman. Longinus clearly hoped that a visit from the popular president could help him defend himself against a growing wave of attacks from his opponent and his rather extremist ideas.

Undeterred, Roosevelt met Longino in mid-November 1902 and the two men traveled to the town of Onward, 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Vicksburg. On the plains they camped with trappers, horses, tents, supplies, 50 hunting dogs, reporters, and a former slave named Holt Collier as a guide.

As a cavalryman for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest during the Civil War, Collier knew the terrain well. He had also killed more than 1,000 bears in his lifetime. Longinus turned to his expertise because bear hunting in the swamps was dangerous (which Roosevelt appreciated). "He was safer with me than with all the police officers in Washington," Collier later said.

The hunt had been scheduled as a 10-day excursion, but Roosevelt was impatient. "I have to see a live bear on the first day," he told Collier. He did not do it. But the next morning, Collier's dogs picked up the scent of a bear, and the president spent the next few hours chasing it through the mud and brush. After a lunch break, Collier's dogs chased a large, 250-pound old black bear to a watering hole.

Pinned down by barking dogs, the bear knocked down several with its paws and then crushed one to death. Collier proceeded to ring the bell for Roosevelt to join the hunt and then approached the bear. Eager to save the president's prey, but seeing that his dogs were in danger, Collier brandished his rifle and smashed the bear in the skull. He then tied him to a nearby tree and waited for Roosevelt.

When the president caught up with Collier, he found a gruesome scene: a bloodied and panting bear tied to a tree, dead and wounded dogs, a crowd of hunters shouting, the president take down the bear! When Roosevelt, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, entered the water, he refused, saying it would be unsportsmanlike to kill a defenseless animal this way. Collier then approached the bear with another hunter and, after a terrible struggle in the water, killed it with his knife. The animal was hung from a horse and taken back to camp.

C- Drawing the line in Mississippi by Berryman

News of Roosevelt's compassionate gesture soon spread throughout the country, and on Monday morning, November 17, cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman's cartoon appeared. in the pages of the Washington Post. In this drawing, Roosevelt is dressed in full horseman's uniform, with his back to a corrected, frightened and very docile bear cub, who refuses to shoot. The cartoon is titled "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," and according to some sources it refers not only to Roosevelt's refusal to shoot the bear, but also to his handling of a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana.

The cartoon became so popular that Berryman drew even smaller, cuter "teddy bears" in political cartoons and caricatures for the remainder of Roosevelt's term as president.

D- The merchant Michtom and the teddy bear

Grocer Morris Michtom, who runs a grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, made a small teddy bear with the image of the cartoon and placed it in the window of his store to decorate it. Surprisingly, the bear was acquired quickly. With President Roosevelt's permission, the bear was officially named after the president's nickname, Teddy.

A story gave rise to a cartoon, a cartoon inspired a couple. No one can think of these three seemingly ordinary little things, which brought Teddy Bear to fame . Later, many new fashion bear designs were inspired by teddy bears. The teddy bears are red and come from Europe. And from Asia Pacific, the Japanese's favorite bear is the teddy bear.

E- The success of the teddy bear

On the day of this success, more than a dozen people asked if they could buy the bear. Thinking they might need permission from the White House to produce the stuffed animals, the Michtoms sent the original to the president as a gift for his children and asked him if he would mind if they used his name on the bear. Roosevelt, doubting that it would make any difference, accepted. With Roosevelt's permission, Michtom called the bear "teddy bears . "

The teddy bear became so popular that the Michtoms abandoned their business to focus on making teddy bears. President Roosevelt even used the teddy bear as a mascot when he ran for re-election in 1904.

Michtom's company became one of the largest toy manufacturers in the United States under the name Ideal Toy Company. In 1963 they donated one of the first teddy bears to the Smithsonian Institute. It is currently on display in the Gallery of the United States Presidency at the National Museum of American History.

4) The largest collection of stuffed animals.

Until 2006, the world's largest collection of teddy bears was housed in the Teddy Bear Museum in England. The museum had a collection of more than 2,000 bears. But the museum was auctioned in 2006. Today, one family claims to own more than 5,000 teddy bears, although they have not officially counted them all. The Volpps' collection includes a teddy bear they bought at auction for $88,000.

Why would anyone pay so much for a teddy bear? All in the name of love: Mr. Volpps gave it to his wife on their 42nd wedding anniversary.

5) These days, stuffed animals are everywhere

Stuffed toys started out small and were often toys so that the most privileged and the poorest could make their own from rags and scraps of cloth. However, by the early 20th century, mass production allowed teddy bears to reach almost every home, becoming a childhood staple, along with a variety of other stuffed toys.

But, after World War II, during the post-war baby boom, the toy market took off, giving way to new brands.

Little by little, companies began to manufacture all kinds of stuffed animals for children and babies. Teddy bears, unicorns, sheep , polar bears, elephants, pandas, popular fictional characters and even giant stuffed animals. A quick tour of Plush Kingdom ® will show you the wide variety of stuffed animals available! Then in the 1990s, electronic stuffed animals became popular. They can sing, dance, speak and react to certain actions.

Today, stuffed toys are produced everywhere, they are a staple in zoos, a necessity for children, and a fun and enjoyable experience for people of all ages. It is also one of the best-selling toys and is popular with everyone from babies to adults. All for good reason: Stuffed toys promote creativity and positive thinking by encouraging children to think about the adventurous dreams they want to have before falling asleep.

Even if you never happened to own a stuffed animal, it's hard not to love them stuffed animals have simply become one of the most popular and common toys a child has.

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  • Max Coutinho
    Max Coutinho February 11, 2013 at 3:46 AM

    Hi K!

    Such a cute story. It is true that kids hold on to their teddies - many even save them to pass them on to the next generation.

    I didn't have this kind of a relationship (the one described in the article) with a teddy; but I know many people who have.


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