They have been around for just over a hundred years, the first teddy bear gift in fact emerging from a small candy shop in Brooklyn, USA – sounds like an odd place to sell a teddy bear but it’s because of an amazing chain of events that all kicked off with President Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States of America! read on to find out about the history of the Teddy bear and how it started a phenomena across the world.
How it all began!
In 1902 Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt had refused to shoot a captured bear because he deemed it unsportsmanlike to kill it since it had already been captured and tied up. This incident captured the attention of the nation and a cartoonist named Clifford Berryman picked up the story, publishing a cartoon depicting the incident in The Washington Post.
The cartoon, shown here, depicts a soft, cuddly looking bear rather than the real-life fierce black bear that had been captured Noticing the popularity of the story and realising that the sensation could be of value to advertise his wares, candy shop owner Morris Michtom made a small velvet bear cub to display in his shop window alongside his candy. He named it “Teddy’s Bear”.
But the bear was quickly sold to a customer and with other customers enquiring after the bear because they wanted to buy one too, Morris Michtom soon found that selling bears was more successful than selling candy.
Morris wrote to Teddy Roosevelt to ask his blessing, which he gave, and the bears just flew off the shelves. Soon he gave up selling candy and started to mass produce teddy bears
The British Teddy Bear
Soon after, manufacturers of teddy bears started to spring up in Britain. One of the first manufacturers in Britain was Farnell Factory in Acton, London. They made teddy bears in the style of the first one made by Morris Michtom, with jointed arms and legs and a face that looked like a real bear. This style of bear can still be found nowadays, often hidden away in someone’s loft, long forgotten. Others are still treasured by their loving owners, just like this adorable teddy bear (pictured) who was “born” in the early 1940s and has belonged to one of our Send A Cuddly staff members since he was born. His name is just “Teddy” and you can see he has been extremely well looked after.
Where can I see some Teddy History?
Now that you have learnt a little bit about the history of the Teddy bear, you will be delighted to find out that there are many different venues around the UK to see some examples from over the years. Britain has always had a strong connection with Teddy bears and its no wonder that the world’s first teddy bear museum was opened in Petersfield in Hampshire in 1984, sadly this museum closed in 2006 but there are many more, including one founded by British broadcaster Gyles Brandreth which is located in Ripon in North Yorkshire. Gyles’s collection contains over 100 bears and features some very famous names such as Sooty and the original Paddington Bear! Across the UK you will find other venues such as Dorchester’s Teddy Bear Museum and the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green with plenty of displays and collections to be enjoyed by all ages.
For a visual look at the history of Teddy Bears and other cuddly stuffed toys take a look at the video below to learn more.
Teddy bears are still as popular as ever and are continually being featured on the television and are just as much a part of growing now as they were 40-50 years ago! Where would we be without the likes of Teddy Ruxpin, Superted and of course Pudsey bear. We also don’t need to look hard to see influences in literature from A A. Milne’s Winne the Pooh and Rupert the bear to name but a few!
You can buy a fully jointed “real-looking” teddy bear from Send A Cuddly – our Silver Tag Bears are collectible heirlooms, whilst our other traditional looking bears designed in a similar style, such as Kendall Bear and Oliver Bear, are a reminder of the very first Teddy Bear that ever lived, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt and Morris Michtom!