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History Class
(history of teddybear)

 

The term "Teddy" bear is named after one of America's late presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, who held office from 1901 - 1909. Though one of the true pioneers was Margarete Steiff, a German girl, who at a young age was stricken with Polio. Being tied to a wheelchair all of her life, she never let that bother her. She was a great lover of children and loved having them visit her. One day Margarete Steiff made a tiny elephant which she would let her little visitors play with. Since toys were very rare back then and the children loved playing with them, Margarete's mother began giving her orders for copies of the elephant as well as other toy animals. As time went by she started to train other women to help her and eventually set up a small factory.

 

 

By 1887 Margarete's toys were being sent all over the world. Her one nephew, Richard, spent many hours watching the bears at the zoo, when in 1902 had created a toy bear with a moving head and limbs to present to his aunt. When presented to Margarete, she was not at all impressed, this toy was much bigger and it was made out of expensive and rare mohair opposed to the felt that was currently being used. However she allowed the toy to be shipped to the USA But it was laughed at and rejected.

 

The bear was brought to the Leipzig Fair the following year, but kept in the background. While they were packing up they were approached by a representative of a New York import house. He was looking for something soft and cuddly and had found the fair disappointing. At which point the little bear was presented to him, the New York rep. was so delighted that he placed an order for 3,000 pcs. Before long they had received another 3,000 pc order from a factory in Giengen.

 

 

Now the bear was truly launched. Back in the States, Theodore Roosevelt's daughter was in the midst of her wedding plans. The caterer, was searching everywhere to find a unique and appropriate table decoration. In his journeys he went to New York and one of the first things he had seen was this little bear looking at him through the shop's window. Knowing how the President was a big game hunter he bought a handful of them to decorate the tables with. He had decorated them in various costumes such as fishermen and hunters. This had delighted everyone at the wedding including the President. At the end of the reception a close friend of the family asked, "Say "Teddy" what species do these bears belong?" Not knowing Roosevelt replied, "you really got me there so I think they must be a new species called Teddy Bears". Now the press being present picked up on this little story and had released it all over the papers, thus the little bear became famous and thousands and thousands were ordered from all over the world. Credit for parts of this story go to Margaret Hutchings's "Teddy Bears and How to Make Them"

 


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