America's President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was Teddy, accidentally started the craze for toy Teddy bears in 1902. It all began when the president was on a hunting trip and a group of Roosevelt's attendants captured, clubbed and tied an American Black Bear to a willow tree, after the animal had been pursued by hounds. The president was then called by the attendants to shoot the bear, but he refused. The Washington Post, published a cartoon about the incident, which had become quite a topic of conversation.
Not long after, Morris Michtom, a Jewish immigrant, who sold candy by day at his shop in Brookland and made stuffed toys by night, was inspired by all the media attention, to make a bear and put it in his shop window, with a sign that read "Teddy's bear". The toys were immediately successful and so began the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co and the popularity of teddy's.
Credit: flickr by sent o' latte
Around the same time, a toy maker in Germany called Margarete Steiff, who was disabled due to contracting polio as a baby, was making a range of stuffed animals, including jointed bears with movable heads. These bears were initially called 'Friend Petz', but soon they were being imported to America and called Teddy Bears. Original Steiff bears, always had a nickel button on one ear to identify them.
A Few Famous Bears
In Greek mythology, Atalanta was an Arcadian princess who was left out to die on a mountaintop, because her father, Iasus wanted a son. As the abandoned Atalanta grew weaker, her cry began to sound like moans, which attracted a wild she-bear. The bear cared for Atalanta and later taught her to fight like a bear, (sounds like Baloo from The Jungle Book) until hunters found her and took her back to the village.
The story of Snow White and Rose Red features a bear, who would come to the door and beg for shelter during the harsh winter months. The girls allowed the pitiful creature to sleep on a rug in front of the fire. When the bear left them in the spring, it's fur caught on the door and the amazed sisters saw gold shining under the bears fur. When the summer came, the kind-hearted girls encountered a mean old dwarf and rescued him three times. On this one particular day, the girls had just saved the dwarf from an eagle, when they suddenly came upon the bear. The dwarf began to attack the bear, but the bear felled the dwarf with one cuff of the paw. Fearful the sisters turned to run, but the voice of a young man, made them turn and they were met with the sight of a frightfully handsome prince, where the bear had stood. The prince married Snow White and her sister Rose Red married his brother.
The mention of The Jungle Book above of course calls to mind Baloo the bear, who first featured in Rudyard Kipling's novel of the same name and later the Disney movie. Who can forget the song sung by Baloo (in the movie) "The Bare Necessities", which summed up Baloo's general life philosophy ( You better believe it!)
And then there is Br'er Bear from the Uncle Remus folktales, who is not exactly the sharpest knife in the draw. He hangs about with that wily, devious Br'er Fox.
Who doesn't love The Berenstain Bears? who live "in a big treehouse down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country".Enthusiastic Papa Bear, wise Mama Bear, Brother Bear (originally Small Bear), Sister Bear, and Honey Bear. Papa messes things up and Mamma straightens them out.
How about the courtly, well mannered Paddington Bear, a character in children's books written by Michael Bond. Paddington, never appears without his old suitcase, duffle coat and old hat. He simply loves marmalade sandwiches and tries hard.... but always gets himself into troubles.
Remember Fozzie Bear from The Muppet Show? He was an orange standup comic, who wore a brown Pork pie hat. Those old balcony sitting hecklers Statler and Waldorf loved to mock Fozzie, as he performed his routines, but that didn't stop Fozzie as he sang while roller skating or acted in the Bear On Patrol.
Smokey Bear was on hand to teach us about the dangers of forest fires and he often used to say Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires". He had his own song too.
There are many other bears like: Yogi and Boo Boo, Sooty, Rupert Bear, Humphrey B. Bear (Aussies will know) and so many more.
A Comforting Friend
Teddy Bears can provide comfort, a sense of security and you can have one at any age. A teddy won't take all the quilt, or most of the bed and makes a great sleep mate. Teddy's are timeless and can be the perfect present to give for almost any occasion. Therapy bears for example, are often given to sick children in hospital or to elderly people suffering memory loss. Teddy's are terrific!
Collectable Teddy Bears
Some Teddy Bears are only for collectors and are worth thousands of dollars. The people who collect such bears are called Arctophiles and these people often have rooms or even houses full of teddy's. The most treasured teddy's however, generally have nothing to do with money, but have great sentimental value to the person who owns them.
Yah for Teddy's!
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Apr 12, 2014)
Amazon Price: $128.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 12, 2014)