History of the Teddy Bear

Here is the history of the Teddy Bear and other cute bears created over the years for children

In America, the teddy bear, according to tradition, began with a cartoon. The cartoon, drawn by Clifford Berryman and titled "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," showed President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a baby bear.

History of the teddy bear...the beginning

Roosevelt had traveled to Mississippi to help settle a border dispute between that state and Louisiana, and his hosts,anxious to please this avid hunter, took him bear hunting. The hunting was so poor that someone finally captured an old (& half clubbed to death) bear and invited Roosevelt to shoot. Roosevelt's refusal to fire at such a hapless target inspired Clifford Berryman to draw his cartoon,  The caption is a word play on the two ways Roosevelt was drawing the line—settling a border dispute and refusing to shoot a captive animal.

The cartoon appeared in a panel of cartoons by Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. It caused an immediate public reaction and was widely reprinted. The original cartoon showed a large bear but Berryman redrew the cartoon, taking cartoonist's licence by changing the old bear into a bear cub, no doubt to add to the popular appeal. It could be said that Berryman was the true originator of the Teddy's Bear . 

History of the Teddy Bear

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President 1901-1909 with his picture of the cartoon and his bear-inspired hat & umbrella stand...the beginning of the history of the Teddy Bear

Here's another Clifford Berryman cartoon, dressing Roosevelt as a Rough Rider. Roosevelt was known for his endless energy. Buffalo Bill called him "a cyclone" and Mark Twain called him "an earthquake." 

When Spain and the U.S. went to war in 1898, he organized a Volunteer Cavalry (an army unit on horseback), which was called "the Rough Riders."

A Russian emigrant Morris Michtom and his wife Rose of Brooklyn, New York saw the Berryman cartoon and made a toy bear from brown plush material with button eyes and movable arms. They called it appropriately ‘TEDDY’S BEAR’, and asked the President if he could use the name Teddy. In a handwritten reply Roosevelt said; “ I don’t think my name is worth much in the toy bearcub business, but you are welcome to use it”, and so the world’s favourite toy was born out of an act of soft heartedness by President Theodore Roosevelt. 

History of the Teddy Bear

In 1907 John W Bratton wrote a piece of music he called The Teddy Bears' Picnic. He had previously written a piece of music called the Squirrels Picnic so he already had had the idea of woodland animals having a picnic. In 1932, Jimmy Kennedy, penned the words, taking the lead from JWB's original title

This, The Teddy Bear, March and Two Step is often confused with The Teddy Bears' Picnic. I don't know why because the word "Picnic" is clearly not there. It was written and published by Albert A Williams, allegedly in 1907 but I'm not sure I believe that

Also, allegedly, in 1907 John Sylvester Fearis wrote March of the Teddy Bears, Teddy Bear Waltz, Dance of Teddy Bear and The Teddy Bear Rag. That needs further investigation

Also Teddy Trombone 1918 by Henry Fillmore

And not forgetting Teddy Bear by K Mann & B Lowe 1956 recorded by Elvis Presley

History of the Teddy Bear


1834 Robert Southey writes Goldilocks and the Three Bears
1847 Margarete Steiff is born on July 24

1894 German toy company Gebrüder Sussenguth show a stuffed bear toy in their catalogue.
1897 Bear skittles and ‘roly-poly’ toy bears feature in the Steiff catalogue and the Steiff company takes its own stand at the Leipzig toy fair.
1899 Margarete Steiff registers patents for 23 of her soft toy designs, including a dancing bear and a bear handler with a brown bear. 

HISTORY OF THE TEDDY BEAR, and other Childrens' Bears

1902 The above Berryman cartoon appears in newspapers in America prompting Morris
Michtom to produce and sell the first ‘Teddy’s Bear’ in his Brooklyn shop.
1903 March. Steiff Company sells 3000 of its 55PB bear to America following showing at Leipzig toy fair. Deans Ragbook Co. established in August.
Steiff introduces the button in the ear in March; registers Bar 35 PB with string jointing.
Steiff introduces rod-jointed Bar 28 PB.
Steiff registers Bar 35 PAB, first disk-jointed teddy bear design in February.
Seymour Eaton's Roosevelt Bears first copyrighted.
Toy magazine Playthings first uses term teddy bears in May.
Steiff produces 975,000 bears.

1906 May. First advertisement for plush bear toys, still called Bruins, in the American toy trade magazine Playthings.
1906 November. First advertisement using the words Teddy Bear, by American manufacturer E.J. Horsman, in the American toy trade magazine Playthings.
1907 Dean’s Rag Book Company publishes Teddy Bear, by Alice Scott, illustrated by Sybil Scott Paley.
1907 Seymour Eaton publishes The Roosevelt Bears newspaper strip in book form (USA)
1907 Music of the famous song, The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, written by American composer John Walter Bratton and about the same time several other pieces of music with Teddy Bear in the title
1908 Dean’s Rag Book Company advertises cut out and sew teddy bears in Home Chat magazine. Steiff first mentions tilt growler in catalogues: first uses glass eyes for British market.
First lawsuits between Steiff and other German companies over button in ear.
Large plush bear, unidentified, appears in a Dean’s advertisement.
J.K. Farnell company makes the first British teddy bears.
1909 First cartoon animated teddy-bear cartoon, Little Johnny and the Teddy Bears, made in the USA.

HISTORY OF THE TEDDY BEAR  and other bears continues

1911 The Bruin Boys first appearance in Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia.
1912 Steiff create black teddy bears to give as mourning gifts after the sinking of the Titanic.
1915 Dean’s advertise plush teddy bears, made in their new workshop, in their Kuddlemee toys catalogue.
1919 First non-stop Atlantic flight by teddy bears when aviation pioneers Alcock and Brown take teddy bear mascots with them on record breaking flight.
1919 First British comic-strip teddy bear character, Bobby Bear, published in the Daily Herald . Other animal cartoons were Charles Folkard's Teddy Tail (mouse) in the Daily Mail and Austin Payne's Pip Squeak and Wilfred (dog, penquin and rabbit) of the Daily Mirror

1920 First Rupert Bear picture story,  Little Lost Bear, written and illustrated by Mary Tourtel, appears in the UK newspaper, The Daily Express. Mary was born in Kent in 1874, the daughter of a stained glass artist and stone mason. After Art school training, she became a professional book illustrator and married Herbert Tourtel, a sub-editor of the Daily Express. Mary loved to draw landscapes, animals and people. In unashamed nepotism, Herbert arranged that Mary would draw a small cartoon feature telling the tale of, at that time, a nameless "Little Lost Bear" (largely to rival Teddy Tail of the Daily Mail.)
As new artists took over there have been minor changes and it still runs today

HISTORY OF THE TEDDY BEAR continues with the development of more bear characters for Children

1921 German company Schuco patent the Yes/No bear
1921 J.K. Farnell set up the Alpha works, making bears designed by Cybil Kent.
1924 First colour animation film with a teddy bear theme when Walt Disney produces Alice and the Three Bears
1926 First Edition of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, published.
1930 First teddy bears made by UK firm Merrythought with designs by Florence Atwood 1932 Lyrics of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic written by Jimmy Kennedy and set to the original music written in 1907.
1938 H.M. Queen Elizabeth (now The Queen Mother) grants a Royal Warrant to
1939 British teddy bear makers Chad Valley. 1944 Smokey Bear adopted as the mascot of the United States Forest Fire Prevention Campaign.
1945-1951 Teddy Bears commonly made with nylon and rayon plush.
- Merrythought's Cheeky first appears in catalogue.
- Yogi Bear debuts on Huckleberry Hound; has own show 3 years later.
- Wendy Boston introduces new safety eye.
- Berenstain Bears appear in first book.
- Benjamin Michtom, Ideal founders son, gives a 1903 teddy bear to Roosevelts grandson Kermit, who donates it to Smithsonian.

24th January
1948 Issue No 327
'Biffo' The Bear appears for the first time in The Beano

HISTORY OF THE TEDDY BEAR continues with arctophilia developing

1952 First appearance of Sooty, the teddy bear glove puppet and magician, on British television.
1953 Steiff celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Steiff bears with a new style bear, ‘a comical young bear cub’, called Jackie Baby.
1954 Wendy Boston, Welsh toy maker, produces the first truly washable teddy bear.
1956 Elvis Presley recorded 'Teddy Bear'
1958 Publication of the first Paddington story, A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond.
1959 Walt Disney acquire the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh.
1962 Colonel Bob Henderson launches The Teddy Bear Club
1962 Margaret Baker publishes The Shoe Shop Bears
1965 Russ Berrie is established, starting with Fuzzy Wuzzies.
- Baloo sings Bare Necessities in Disney's The Jungle Book.
- Good Bears of the World started.
- First artist bear shown by Beverly Port.
- Steiff introduces first replicas.
- North American starts VIB line.
- Doll Reader first uses term bear artist
- Care Bears are introduced.
- Teddy Bear and Friends magazine started.
- Good Bears of the World name this the International Year of the Teddy Bear.
- First teddy bear museum opens on Berlin.
- Teddy Bear Review magazine started.
- Steiff collectors club started.
- A record $158,000 is paid for a 1905 Steiff bear at a London auction.
- US Postal Service issues a teddy bear stamp for its celebrate the Century program.
- Steiff's Louis Vuitton bear sells for around $210,000 in Monaco , highest ever.
- US Postal service issues 4 stamps of teddy bears by American companies.
- Guinness World Records reports the smallest handmade teddy bear is 9mm long.
- Many celebrations for the anniversary; Steiff and Disney hold first event together in November.
2005 40th Anniversary of Russ Berrie.
1969 Peter Bull publishes Bear With Me (USA The Teddy Bear Book)
1969 Jim Ownby launches the charity Good Bears of the World.
1975 Walt Disney’s first animated film of Winnie-the-Pooh appears.
1979 Peter Bull designs his traditionally styled Bully Bears for House of Nisbet.
1979 Marquis of Bath organises the Great Teddy Bear Rally at Longleat.


1980 Pudsey Bear and BBC Children in Need Appeal launched
1981 Peter Bull’s 1907 American bear, Delicatessen, stars in the television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited.
1985 Christie’s of London hold the first ever teddy bear only auction.
1988 Gyles and Michele Brandreth found The Teddy Bear Museum in William Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford upon Avon
1989 First British Teddy Bear Festival held in London.
1989 Happy Anniversary, a 1926 tipped mohair Steiff bear, is sold at auction in London for £55,000 to American Paul Volpp as a 42nd wedding anniversary gift for his wife, Rosemary.
1990 First Steiff UK Limited Edition.
1990 Hermann Teddy Original 75th Anniversary Limited Edition
1990 Merrythought Diamond Jubilee Limited Edition.
1994 Teddy Girl, a 1904 cinnamon Steiff bear formerly owned by Colonel Bob Henderson, is sold at auction in London for £110,000 to Yoshihiro Sekiguchi, founder of the Teddy Bear Museum in Izu, Japan.
1996 Teddy Edward, the world’s most travelled bear, is bought at auction by Yoshihiro Sekiguchi of the Izu Teddy Bear Museum for £34,500
1998 Guinness (8.5 mm tall), made by Lynn Lumb of Halifax, England, enters The Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest teddy bear.
2002 100th anniversary of the teddy bear.

That brings the history of the teddy bear to the present time but watch this space

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