Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Origin of Teddy Bear

The Origin of Teddy Bear Stuffed Toys

One of the most famous toys in world history is the Teddy Bear that even those modern toys couldn’t easily take off it’s iconic and popularity among children through the ages.
To think that this cute huggable toy emerged as a result of a sad ending of an American Black Bear through mercy killing makes me appreciate those who protect wild animals like them. Here is a short tale of the toy’s history:

(Left) Political Cartoon by Clifford Berryman in Washington Post 1902

Once upon November 1909, United States of America president Theodore Roosevelt went hunting on a forest with his friends as invited by Mississippi governor Andrew H. Longino. Some of their attendants saw an American Black Bear, tied it on a willow tree and clubbed it. The animal was bound to be shoot by the president but he refused to kill it that way and instead in another manner to end its misery.

(Bottom Left) another sketch by C. Berryman in the Washington Post

The bear hunting event was then featured in a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in the Washington Post dated November 16, 1902 creating a drawing of a smaller bear. After seeing the said cartoon, Morris Mitchtom had an idea to create a new toy and founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. Mr. Mitchtom then made a toy in form of a bear then sent one to the president with asking for permission to call it Teddy resulting for an approval.

On the other hand, Richard Steiff’s firm in Germany also created the same kind of toy unaware of Mitchcom’s. The toy was exhibited at the Leipzig Fair in March 1903 yielding orders from the US.

In 1906 other toy manufacturers joined the craze as the Teddy Bear became so popular with women and children and its iconic value as President Roosevelt’s mascot for his re-election campaign.

(Right) Theodore Roosevelt on a portrait with a Teddy Bear; (Bottom Left) a modern day Teddy Bear

From the original real like bear look with long snouts and beady eyes, the modern teddy bears looks more attractive, fashionable, and softer because of their babylike looks. The toy has endured the test of time in spite of more technological advancements of new toys and children of today are still patronizing this cute toy. -F.A.F

Photo Credits:
the teddy bear museum

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