Popular culture in America tells us that the history of the
Teddy Bear originated in 1902, created by candy shop owner Morris Michtom after being inspired by a cartoon by Clifford Berryman in the Washington Post involving U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
Teddy Roosevelt was known as a big game hunter and often went on hunting trips with his fellow politicians. While hunting with a party including the governor of Mississippi, he was the only man to have not yet located a bear. Roosevelt’s assistants found a black bear, cornered it, and tied it to a willow tree for Roosevelt to kill. However, Roosevelt found this type of kill to be very unsportsmanlike and refused to shoot the bear. The story quickly spread throughout the country as newspapers reported on the President who wouldn’t kill a bear. These articles prompted political cartoons, including the one by Clifford Berryman which inspired Michtom’s stuffed bear named
Teddy’s Bear. Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Corporation and became the first company to produce teddy bears. The bears gained worldwide popularity.
These original bears were typically made with wool mole hair, glass eyes, and velveteen pads. Both old and new bears are considered collectables, with some of the most desired having been and still being produced by the Steiff Company. Another well-respected, long-lasting company known for their bears is Bing. The earliest Steiff bears (1919/20’s) and Bing are today worth well over £1300.
What Did These First Bears Look Like?
Steiff. The first Ideal bears created by Michtom are very similar to the Steiff bears, which can make identification difficult. However, Ideal bears have larger ears and pointed feet.