“He was a hopeful bear at heart.” ~ author of Paddington Bear
“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.” ~ Winnie the Pooh
There’s nothing like a soft, cuddly Teddy bear to give comfort to a child. You probably had one when you were young and maybe kept it to pass on to your child. In these days of electronic gadgets and things that do all sorts of stuff for us, isn’t it nice to just have something soft to hold and hug? Stuffed animals have been favorites for generations, with the friendly-faced Teddy bear one of the most loved.
As I remember, my bear was brown and kind of disheveled looking, probably more from me than by design. My daughter had two favorite bears that still live at her house—one a handcrafted plaid bear made by a family friend and one a blue, squishy Teddy.
Teddy bears have been a bigger part of history than most of us can imagine. . . some “bear” facts:
- 1899 – In Germany, the first stuffed bear was created by Margarete Steiff, who registered 23 patents for her design.
- 1902 – In the US, Morris Michtom sold the first Teddy bear in November, named after President Theodore Roosevelt (with his permission).
- President Roosevelt later attended a wedding where 3,000 Teddy bears were used as part of the wedding decorations.
- 1906 – Teddy bear was first included in the Oxford dictionary.
- By 1907, one million Teddy bears had been sold.
- 1912 – As a gift of mourning for those lost on the Titanic, a black bear was created by the Steiff manufacturer. Only 82 were made; one reportedly sold later at auction for $136,000.
- 1919 – Teddy bears flew as mascots on the non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland.
- 1924 – Walt Disney released its first animated bear feature—Alice and the Three Bears.
- 1925 – J. K. Farnell, a British company, introduced the Alpha bear, which was thought to be an inspiration for Winnie the Pooh.
- 1926 – Winnie the Pooh was published by A. A. Milne. In 1959, Walt Disney acquired the rights to Winnie the Pooh and released his first movie in 1975.
- 1944 – Smokey the Bear became the mascot for the US Forest Fire Prevention Campaign: “Remember, Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.” Since 2008, Sam Elliott has been the voice of Smokey the Bear.
- 1958 – Another well-known bear came into publication—Paddington Bear.
- 1985 – Christie’s of London held the first teddy bear only auction.
- 1995 – Magellan T. Bear, the mascot for Elk Creek Elementary School in Pine, Colorado, flew on the space shuttle. She was a well-traveled bear!
- 2006 – Traveling Teddy Bear has her own Facebook page (check it out).
- Visit the largest teddy bear museum in the US—add Susan Quinlan Doll & Teddy Bear Museum & Library (Santa Barbara, CA) to your travel wish list.
Teddy bears are for the young, young-at-heart, and, really, any age. Children the world over enjoy them, older “kids” treasure them for the memories they bring back, and little ones love their softness. Look in any nursery, and you’re likely to find a Teddy bear settled in a corner somewhere, quietly waiting for a hug.