Sunday, June 26, 2005

Collecting Teddy Bears

One of my passions is collecting antique teddy bears. There are sub-categories within this category: miniature bears, Steiff only, and bruins on wheels, to name a few. I wish I had the "geld" to collect only Steiff bears!

I have a few Steiff bears, including a Panda, which isn't a true teddy bear, according to some people. "True" teddy bears are ones that resemble the first teddy bear, made in 1903. To each his own, I say!

A Brief Teddy Bear Timeline

In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt makes national news when he refuses to shoot a bear cub while hunting in Mississippi.
The Washington Post publishes a cartoon of the incident in November of 1902. An American, named Morris Michtom, sees the cartoon and his wife, Rose, designs a toy stuffed bear. Mr. Michtom writes to President Roosevelt, asking for permission to name his bear after him. The President agrees, and "Teddy's Bear", the most commercially successful toy ever, is born.


In 1903 an American toy buyer, at a German trade show, purchases 3000 upright bears made by Steiff. Strictly by coincidence, Steiff had produced a line of upright bears in 1902, which did not catch on in Germany. The Steiff bruins, which stood on all fours, were very popular there, however. As the legend goes, Steiff was ready to discontinue the upright bear line when the 3000 bears were purchased for the burgeoning American market.

In 1906 other American toy manufacturers get in on the action, including Horsman. (The Michtom's endeavor becomes The Ideal Toy Co.) In Germany, Hermann and Bing become notable competitors with Steiff, and all three companies export bears across Europe. About 1915 the Teddy Bear catches on in England, and notable firms like Farnell and Chiltern lead the way. A decade later, Chad Valley and Merrythought maufacture beautiful teddies.

This period is known as the Golden Age o

1 comment:

Jim Naka said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you! I have a toy poodle site/blog. It pretty much covers toy poodle related stuff.