On this Day:
In 1902, Brooklyn toymaker Morris Michton named the teddy bear after US President Teddy Roosevelt.
A teddy bear is a stuffed toy in the form of a bear. Developed apparently simultaneously by toymakers Morris Michtom in the U.S. and Richard Steiff under his aunt Margarete Steiff’s company in Germany in the early years of the 20th century, and named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the teddy bear became a popular children’s toy, celebrated in story, song, and film.
Since the creation of the first teddy bears which sought to imitate the form of real bear cubs, “teddies” have greatly varied in form, style, color, and material. They have become collector’s items, with older and rarer teddies appearing at public auctions. Teddy bears are among the most popular gifts for children and are often given to adults to signify affection, congratulations or sympathy.
The name teddy bear comes from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt, who was often referred to as “Teddy” (though he loathed being referred to as such). The name originated from an incident on a bear hunting trip in Mississippi in November 1902, to which Roosevelt was invited by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. There were several other hunters competing, and most of them had already killed an animal. A suite of Roosevelt’s attendants, led by Holt Collier, cornered, clubbed, and tied an American black bear to a willow tree after a long exhausting chase with hounds. They called Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he shoot it. He refused to shoot the bear himself, deeming this unsportsmanlike, but instructed that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery, and it became the topic of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. While the initial cartoon of an adult black bear lassoed by a handler and a disgusted Roosevelt had symbolic overtones, later issues of that and other Berryman cartoons made the bear smaller and cuter.
Morris Michtom saw the drawing of Roosevelt and was inspired to create a teddy bear. He created a tiny soft bear cub and put it in his candy shop window at 404 Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn with a sign “Teddy’s bear.” After sending a bear to Roosevelt and receiving permission to use his name, he began to produce them commercially to great demand. The toys were an immediate success and Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.
A little earlier in 1902 in Germany, the Steiff firm produced a stuffed bear from Richard Steiff’s designs. Steiff exhibited the toy at the Leipzig Toy Fair in March 1903, where it was seen by Hermann Berg, a buyer for George Borgfeldt & Company in New York (and the brother of composer Alban Berg). He ordered 3,000 to be sent to the United States. Although Steiff’s records show that the bears were produced, they are not recorded as arriving in the U.S., and no example of the type, “55 PB”, has ever been seen, leading to the story that the bears were shipwrecked. However, the story is disputed – author Günther Pfeiffer notes that it was only recorded in 1953 and says it is more likely that the 55 PB was not sufficiently durable to survive until the present day. Although Steiff and Michtom were both making teddy bears at around the same time, neither would have known of the other’s creation due to poor transatlantic communication.
North American educator Seymour Eaton wrote the children’s book series The Roosevelt Bears, while composer John Walter Bratton wrote an instrumental “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”, a “characteristic two-step”, in 1907, which later had words written to it by lyricist Jimmy Kennedy in 1932.
Early teddy bears were made to look like real bears, with extended snouts and beady eyes. Modern teddy bears tend to have larger eyes and foreheads and smaller noses, babylike features intended to enhance the toy’s “cuteness”. Some teddy bears are also designed to represent different species, such as polar bears and brown bears, as well as pandas and koalas.
While early teddy bears were covered in tawny mohair fur, modern teddy bears are manufactured in a wide variety of commercially available fabrics, most commonly synthetic fur, but also velour, denim, cotton, satin, and canvas.
Retail sales of stuffed plush animals including teddy bears totalled $1.3 billion in 2006. The most commonly sold brands include Gund and Ty Inc. Brands associated with teddy bears that enjoyed strong popularity in the 1980s and 1990s are Teddy Ruxpin and Care Bears. Various TV shows and movies have a teddy bear depicted, such as Super Ted and Mr. Bean.
Teddy bears have seen a resurgence in popularity as international “do-it-yourself” chains have opened. Among the largest and best-known are Build-A-Bear Workshop and Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
Some popular mass-marketed teddy bears made today include Rupert, Sooty, Paddington, and Pudsey Bear. Books have also been written with the teddy bear featured as their main character. These include Winnie-the-Pooh, Corduroy, Teddy Tells Time, and Tristan the Teddy Bear (from the Teddy Bear Tales) (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
How do you get a teddy bear across the border?
You snuggle it across.
Second, a Song:
Morna Anne Murray CC ONS (born June 20, 1945) is a Canadian singer. Her albums consisting primarily of pop, country, and adult contemporary music have sold over 55 million copies worldwide during her over 40-year career.
Murray was the first Canadian female solo singer to reach No. 1 on the U.S. charts and also the first to earn a Gold record for one of her signature songs, “Snowbird” (1970). She is often cited as one of the female Canadian artists who paved the way for other international Canadian success stories such as k.d. lang, Céline Dion, and Shania Twain. She is also the first woman and the first Canadian to win “Album of the Year” at the 1984 Country Music Association Awards for her Gold-plus 1983 album A Little Good News.
Murray has received four Grammys, a record 24 Junos, three American Music Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, and three Canadian Country Music Association Awards. She has been inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Juno Hall of Fame, The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. She is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars in Nashville and has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles and on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto.
In 2011, Billboard ranked her 10th on their list of the 50 Biggest Adult Contemporary Artists Ever (per Wikipedia).
“The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is a song consisting of a melody by American composer John Walter Bratton, written in 1907, and lyrics added by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. It remains popular as a children’s song, having been recorded by numerous artists over the decades. Kennedy lived at Staplegrove Elm and is buried in Staplegrove Church, Taunton, Somerset, England. Local folklore has it that the small wooded area between the church and Staplegrove Scout Hut was the inspiration for his lyrics (per Wikipedia).
Here is Anne Murray performing “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“Wake in the deepest dark of night and hear the driving rain. Reach out a hand and take a paw and go to sleep again.” – Charlotte Gray
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky