Saturday, January 31, 2015

Teddy Bear Tales


    The teddy bear owes its name to our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, and a a border dispute between two states.  On November 14, 1902, Roosevelt was in the south working with Mississippi and Louisiana to solve the states' land issues.  When he had spare time, he liked to be outdoors and was invited to attend a bear hunt in Mississippi.  During the hunt, the party found a wounded young bear that had just killed a hunting dog, and Roosevelt ordered the bear to be put down to end its suffering.  The media caught wind of the incident, and The Washington Post ran an editorial cartoon created by Clifford K. Berryman that illustrated the event.  The cartoon was captioned "Drawing the Line in Mississippi" and depicted both the state dispute and the bear hunt.  The first cartoon showed the bear as a fierce animal, but Berryman later redrew the cartoon showing the animal as a cuddly cub.  The cartoon and news story was widely read and popular, and within a year, the cartoon bear was transformed into a child's toy and called the teddy bear.

     No one knows who the first true maker of the teddy bear was, but a man named Morris Michtom, who owned a small novelty and candy store in Brooklyn, New York, officially made a bear to sell in his store.  Michtom sent President Roosevelt a bear and asked his permission to use the teddy bear name.  Roosevelt said yes, and Michtom and a company named Butler Brothers began mass-producing the teddy bear.

Within a year, Michtom was able to expand the ideal Novelty and Toy Company, and the rest is history.

     Today there are many styles and sizes of teddy bears available, and many, like Gund and Steiff bears, are popular collectibles.

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