ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, IN 1902, RICHARD AND Margarete Steiff created a jointed bear toy they called “bar.” At the Leipzig Toy Fair in early 1903, a tired buyer from a New York company asked the folks at Steiff if they had anything new, and was handed the bear. He ordered 3000, and history was made.
Also in 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear during a hunting trip in Mississippi, and made history of another sort. The event was reported by newspapers and illustrated by cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman. Inspired by the cartoon, Rose and Morris Michtom made a toy bear and called it “Teddy’s bear.”
These simple stories are the folklore upon which the entire teddy bear industry-manufacturers, artists, shows, shops, suppliers, collectors-is built. But there’s so much more. Teddy bear history is the history of the 20th century. Fabrics were influenced by wars. Factories were shut down and owners displaced with the rise of the Berlin Wall, and fortunes reversed with its subsequent fall. Teddy bear history is the history of families-the Steiffs, the Michtoms, the Hermanns, the Deans, the Gunds, and so many more. It’s the history of people-who signed deals, shared ideas, changed jobs, wrote stories, designed bears in their basements, brought everyone they knew together for a teddy bear picnic.
Our goal in this Centennial Celebration year is to tell you some of those stories. We’re starting with Steiff and Ideal, the founders of the teddy bear movement. Through the year, we’ll tell you about many of the other companies that have come and gone-or, like Steiff, come and kept going, successfully. We’ll try to incorporate historical notes so you’ll understand how events in the world influenced the teddy bear industry. We’ll use photos, catalogs, newspapers, and, when possible, personal recollections to tell the stories. We’ll share tales of specific bears and their lives with their people. Some of it will be familiar, and some will be new. We’ve also got new perspectives on familiar material. We’ve got price and identification guides to help you learn about the old bears upon which our passion was built.
In the midst of this retrospective, however, we can’t lose sight of today’s events. We’ll tell you about today’s history in the making, including the many centennial celebrations going on all year around the world (we have lots of special events planned ourselves). We’ve expanded Bruins ‘n Buddies so you’ll see more new bears from all the best artists and manufacturers. And we’ve rearranged things a bit to make it all easier to find.
I urge you, this year of all years, to share your love of teddy bears with the world. Spread the word about teddy bears any way you can-start with the 100 ideas listed on our Web site, and tell us what else you come up with. Teddy bears are 100 years old and going strong. Happy Birthday, Teddy-let the celebration begin!
Copyright Cowles Enthusiast Media Jan/Feb 2002
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.