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We’re back and ready to play!
|Dimensions||11 × 6 × .5 in|
One of the world’s most universally cherished toys was originally created as the result a humane act by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States. In November, 1902, following Roosevelt’s help settling a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana, the President and members of his staff went bear hunting in Mississippi. Members of the hunting party found and wounded a bear, which, when cornered by the hunters, fought and killed one of the group’s hunting dogs. Roosevelt ordered his men to humanely destroy the suffering bear and end the hunt. Clifford Berryman, a newspaper cartoonist for the Washington Post, witnessed Roosevelt’s compassion and decisiveness and turned his experience into a political cartoon entitled, “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” which depicted Roosevelt resting the butt of his rifle on the ground and gesturing his refusal to shoot the easy trophy being offered by a staff member who was holding a defenseless bear cub by a rope tied around its neck. The cartoon was printed in the November 16, 1902 issue of the Washington Post and quickly appeared in newspapers throughout the United States. Soon, the bear cub was appearing in all of Berryman’s cartoons that included President Roosevelt, and became popularly known as “Teddy’s bear.”
A Russian immigrant to the United States, Morris Michtom, and his wife Rose, who owned a confectionery and stationery shop in Brooklyn, NY, saw the Berryman cartoon in the Washington Post and decided to make a stuffed bear in the image of the bear cub in the cartoon. When she had finished sewing it, Rose Michtom put the stuffed bear with a clipping of Berryman’s cartoon in her shop window for sale, calling it “Teddy’s bear.” Legend has it that Morris Michtom had asked and received President Roosevelt’s permission to call the stuffed bear “Teddy’s bear.”
Teddy’s bear sold immediately, and sales boomed when Butler Brothers, a US toy wholesaler, became the distributor of the Michtom’s stuffed bears. In 1903 Butler Brothers formed the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company, which changed its name in 1938 to the Ideal Toy Co. Also in 1903, Hermann Berg, a toy buyer for the New York department store George Borgfeldt & Co., ordered 3,000 stuffed toy bears that Berg had seen exhibited at the March, 1903 Leipzig Fair. The George Borgfeldt & Co.’s stuffed bear imports had been sewn in Giengen, Germany by Margarete Steiff from her nephew Richard’s sketches. Because of the Berryman cartoon, stuffed bears had become big sellers in the US, and The Steiff Company benefited from the increased demand created by President Roosevelt’s popularity. The toy bear’s popularity was boosted still further with the publication of Seymour Eaton’s “Roosevelt Bears,” rhyming tales which originally appeared in Sunday newspapers in 1905 and were featured in four books between 1906 and 1907. By 1907, Teddy’s bear was universally known as the teddy bear. The Steiff bear became so popular that the factory was forced to expand three times between 1903 and 1908, when its annual production grew from 12,000 to nearly one million. In 1907, Steiff officially started calling their stuffed bears, “teddy bears.”
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