Surprisingly, but a fact: the first bears of Teddy had two founders and two historical homelands at once: the USA and Germany. It was in these two countries that the shopkeeper Maurice Mistom (USA) and Margaret Steiff (Germany) almost at the same time, without saying a word, and not even knowing about the existence of each other, at the end of 1902 produced their first doll teddy bears.
Of course, toys in the form of bears existed before, but these were figures of brutal forest animals standing on four legs. And Mishtom and Steiff bears looked more like dolls, with the only difference being that boys were not too shameful to play such dolls.
The American story of Teddy Bears says that he owes his appearance to the world, as well as his name, no more, no less, but the President of the United States himself, Theodore Roosevelt. In November 1902, during a business trip to the state of Mississippi, avid hunter Teddy Roosevelt was invited to participate in a bear hunt.
However, the hunt did not work, and overly helpful assistants offered as a target a little bear found in the forest. Roosevelt with anger rejected such a proposal and ordered the baby to be set free.
This act of the president immediately became public.
A few days later, on November 16, 1902, The Washington Post published a caricature of Clifford Berriman, which depicts the president and the unfortunate bear cub. The picture instantly became popular, it was reprinted from all over the world, and one of the illustrations caught the eye of Maurice Misteau, the owner of a toy shop in New York.
Inspired by the generous act of Roosevelt, Mist created the first teddy bear, placing him in the window of his toy shop next to the newspaper cuttings. Teddy Bear was almost immediately noticed by the store visitors and the press.
But, probably, even Mistom himself could not have imagined that this toy would turn his whole life, and from a simple shopkeeper, thanks to Teddy, he would turn into the founder of the whole “toy” empire Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., which is flourishing today.
The German Teddy Bear story began in the small town of Geingen, where Margaret Steif lived. Already at a young age, she was sick and confined to a wheelchair, so her main entertainment was handicrafts, first of all, the sewing of soft toys. Assessing her daughter’s abilities, her parents helped her open her workshop, which eventually turned into a manufactory of soft toys of the Steyf family, which still exists today. The “father” of the German Teddy bear can be called Margaret’s nephew, artist Richard Steif.
It was his drawings of the little bear from the zoo of Stuttgart that inspired Aunt Margaret to create a toy bear, who glorified their name.
In March 1903, Margaret Shtaif presented her bear at the International Toy Fair in Leipzig, where he was immediately noticed by an American businessman. In the United States, by this time, the enterprising American was gaining momentum in the teddy-boom, which the American could not know, so he ordered a batch of 3000 bear cubs from Margaret.
So the manufactory of the Shtaif family received its first major contract, and the teddy bear received a trip to the life of more than a hundred years.
By 1906, teddy mania swept the United States entirely. Secular ladies everywhere carried their Teddy bears with them, photographed children with them, wrote a series of children’s books about them, wrote poems and even songs.
Theodore Roosevelt chose the teddy bear as his talisman and was elected for a second term … And the name “Teddy” became a household name for all such dolls, even the Steif family approved it as the official name of their trademark bear.
In the wake of popularity, many American toy manufacturers tried to create their own teddy bear, but the vast majority of firms did not last long. It was extremely difficult to compete with the German craftsmen from Bing, Schuco and Hermann, who had a name and rich traditions in creating soft toys.
By the beginning of the 1920s, England led by the company J.K. joined the USA and Germany. Farnell Co.
It is to her that all the children of the world should say thanks for the most famous bear cub – Winnie the Pooh. Yes, yes, Winnie the Pooh is a classic Teddy bear made by Farnell.
This teddy bear was presented to the boy Christopher Robin Milne for the first birthday in his life. Five years later, his dad, Alan Alexander Milne, published the book “Winnie the Pooh and Everything is Everything” about the adventures of his son and his teddy bear.
The next 25 years were supportive of Teddy bears. Mass production of them has not yet acquired a global scale, and people still preferred to buy high-quality handmade bears.
The First World War made it impossible to import bears from Germany, and this gave impetus to the development of Teddy production in other European countries. In England to the company J.K. Farnell Co is joined by Chad Valley, Chiltern and Dean’s.
In France, the bears began to produce Pintel and Fadap. And in Australia, the first Teddy bears began to produce the toy factory Joy Toys.
The bears themselves have changed: first of all, the stuffing of the toys has changed. Winnie the Pooh’s song “In my head sawdust” has ceased to be relevant – bears began to fill with a softer material.
The eyes of the buttons were replaced by more “natural” eyes of glass.
In the US, the story of the bears was not so rosy. Despite the fact that the First World War almost did not affect America, the Great Depression was expecting the country, as a result of which some toy factories cheapened the cost of producing bears, while others were completely closed.
After the war, the most significant milestone in the history of Teddy bears was the emergence of mechanical toys. And here again Germany was in the lead. Two German factories, Schuco and Bing, produced popular worldwide musical bears, bears that moved, danced, played ball and even tumbled.
However, the rise of the teddy industry did not last long: the outbreak of World War II bankrupted most of the factories, many of which were closed and never again resumed work.
For traditional manufacturers of Teddy bears, a special subject of pride was that all their bears were, as they say, “hand-made”, and only natural materials were used for production.
In the postwar years, the situation changes dramatically: the era of synthetic and plastic. Nylon and acrylic fabrics are replacing cotton, silk and linen.
Glass eyes are exchanged for plastic, and they begin to make foam rubber. The idea that synthetics bears can be washed is very popular with customers.
But the greatest damage to classic Teddy bears in the 50-70s was caused not by synthetics and plastics, but by cheap production in East Asian countries. The import of inexpensive bears and other toys from these countries was so great that even the most seemingly strong European and American companies suffered.
The traditional manufacturers focused on quality and exclusivity had nothing to oppose to cheap Asian handicrafts.
Strangely enough, but the rebirth of the popularity of classic Teddy bears, years after their production supplanted Chinese consumer goods, was initiated by none of the masters of soft toys, and English actor Peter Bull (Peter Bull). During his televised speech, he openly declared that he adored Teddy’s teddy bears and believed that they played an important role in his emotional life.
When, after the broadcast of the program, Bull received over 2 thousand letters, he realized that he was not alone.
In 1969, inspired by such spectator support, Bull wrote the book Bear with Me, later titled The Teddy Bear Book. In it, the actor told the whole world about his many years of madness on Teddy bears.
This book struck a chord with thousands of fans of Teddy bears.
So, unexpectedly for himself, Peter Bull created the ideal conditions for the reincarnation of the popularity of the classic Teddy bear, with one important amendment: Teddy ceased to be a child’s toy. Now they were collected by adults.
In 1974, the American Beverly Port (Beverly Port) exhibited a teddy bear at a large “doll” exhibition. A bear named Theodore B. Bea (Theodore B. Bear) modestly held on to the handle of one of the dolls.
A year later, Beverly Port organized a presentation of its bears for the United Federation of Puppet Clubs (United Federation of Doll Clubs). The slideshow quickly became a real sensation. The dollhouse’s passion was contagious: more and more people, first in the US and then in Europe, wanted to try their hand at creating designer Teddy bears.
So, step by step, a new art has emerged – the art of creating unique handmade teddy bears. A new term “teddy-master”, coined by Beverly Port, which is considered to be the ancestor of teddy-art, appeared.
To this day, thousands of teddy masters around the world create in their own home workshops their unique bears for passionate collectors.
After some time, some toy manufacturers picked up the fashion for designer teddy. Ganz, Gund, Dean’s, Knickerbocker, Grisly Spielwaren and other well-known companies began to produce bears for design projects, thereby enabling many collectors to get the desired toy at a more reasonable price.
And, since designer bears became more accessible, the ranks of teddy collectors began to grow rapidly.
The interest in classic bears created in the 1920s and 1930s was naturally revived. From the 70s, those first teddy bears continually began appearing at antique doll and toy auctions, and collectors paid for them more and more. In 1994, a teddy bear factory Margaret Shtaif named Teddy Girl was auctioned off at Christie’s for $ 176 thousand.
For the Russian public, Teddy bears opened the “Puppet Gallery of Vakhtanov Irina Myzina” at the end of the 1990s, which included European and American bears in the exhibits of their puppet shows. Immediately a huge interest arose, both in collecting bears and in their creation.
In Russia, the first manufacturing technology for bears, Teddy began teaching at the Svetlana Voskresenskaya School of Puppet Design Perm artist Natalia Kataeva.
When the works of the first Russian teddy artists began to meet world standards, Svetlana Voskresenskaya presented them in 2002 to a European judge at the Teddybear Total exhibition in German Münster. In the following years, Russian teddists began to actively win over the hearts of foreign collectors with their intelligence, taste, and their own special look at the artistic image of bears. Now the whole world recognizes for Russian artists their own original style in the art of creating teddy bears and the high technological level of the works presented.
And the famous German artist Hildegard Günzel in the collection of 2005 gave one of her porcelain bear dolls to her hands, which was made according to the patterns of Russian artist Elena Yurova.