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Teddy Bear Facts

Aug 9, 2008
In the century plus since teddy bears appeared on the scene these huggable toys have become a universally recognized symbol of solace that appeals to girls and boys, the children and seniors, the occasional purchaser and the serious collector.

The teddy bear is so hugely popular, personifying the spirit of childhood-that the citizenry of three countries, America, Britain and Germany, lay claim to inventing them.

On any given day, up to 20,000 teddy bears are up for sale on eBay.

The more accepted claim comes from the U.S. side of the Atlantic, going back to 1902, when President of the United States, Theodore (Teddy)Roosevelt had gone away on a bear hunting jaunt in Mississippi, but was unsuccessful in making a kill, the story goes. Encountering a bear in that neck of the woods, the trip sponsors captured it and bound it to a tree, calling for the president to shoot.

"Spare the bear! I'll not shoot a tethered animal," Roosevelt famously responded.

Inspired by the incident, cartoonist Clifford Berryman of the Washington Post depicted President Roosevelt the next day, November Sixteen, standing in a pose of firm resolve, holding out his left arm in a "stop" gesture toward a bear cub facing his way. The caption, "Drawing the line in Mississippi," connected the hunting incident to a political dispute, involving the borders of the States of Mississippi and Missouri.

Before long, Brooklyn tradesmen Morris and Rose Michtom arranged the cartoon in their windowpane, by a bear toy patterned after the cub. Michtom wrote the president to ask his permission to name the bear after him. "Teddy's" Bear sold like hotcakes, and the Michtoms' toy company, Ideal Novelty and Toy, was born.

Meantime across the Atlantic in Germany, Richard Steiff, a toy designer employed in the family business, had come up with the thought of making a standing bear with articulated limbs, after watching some bears perform in a circus. His aunt, who established the toy company in 1880, was Margaret Steiff, a seamstress. She authorized the plan and Steiff bears-classics now avidly searched for collectors-were born. Rapidly, they, too, became part of the worldwide teddy bear craze.

And British people consider teddy bears as their quintessential childhood toy also. Many think the name derives from King Edward VII, whose nickname was "Teddy," though British claims to the beginning of teddy bears are not as widely recognized as those in America and Germany, according to teddy bear authorities.

In Amerindian myths, bears are like family to humans, and are frequently called `mother, brother, or father. They walk on their back legs, they are intelligent, their mothers are very nurturing, they remind us of ourselves, and yet they're different. There's a kind of relationship there.

Those who grew up hearing the story of 'Goldilocks and the three bears' or who read the stories of 'Winnie the Pooh' or 'Paddington Bear' do not need an expert to tell them this.

Stuffed toy animals, generally homemade or constructed by very small firms, were around for numerous years before the fabrication of teddy bears in 1902 founded the plush-toy industry. Bear collectors are called arctophiles. A collection of teddy bears, not surprisingly, is called a hug.

Here's a short teddy bear parade of highlights:

* 1906. With President Teddy Roosevelt still in the White House, the initial teddy bear fad peaks in the USA.

* 1926. British author A.A. Milne writes first Winnie-the-Pooh book.

* 1932. British songwriters Jimmy Kennedy and John W. Bratton compose The Teddy Bears' Picnic song : "If you go down in the woods today, you're in for a big surprise . . "

* 1957. Elvis Presley has even another No. 1 hit with Teddy Bear . Worshipful fans flood him with thousands of the toys.

* 1959. British author Michael Bond writes the first Paddington Bear book.

* 1972. Radar O'Reilly's teddy bear on M*A*S*H becomes a symbolization of human resiliency against the scourge of war.

* 1984. More than seventeen million Care Bears are sold.

* 1985. Imagined conversations with your teddy bear become past tense; more than 1 million speaking Teddy Ruxpins are sold.

* 1993. The biggest teddy bears' picnic ever; in attendance is 9,750 bears with their owners in New Zealand.

* 1994. At a Greater London auction in December, Teddy Girl, a cinnamon bear made by Steiff of Germany in approximately 1904, brings in $158,000, paid by a Japanese businessman.

* 1995. After the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, teddy bears become a totem of public bereavement, held tight by adults and children alike. They re-emerge in force after the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when they distributed at Ground Zero by a group called TeddyCares.

* 2000. At a charity auction sale in Monaco, a South Korean businessman gives $210,000 for a brand-new Steiff bear wearing Louis Vuitton clothes and accessories.
About the Author
Learn how to clean your teddy bear friend at teddybears.gogoodpages.com
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