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BEAR HISTORY

The history of the Teddy Bear

The name “Teddy Bear” comes from - President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
1907 Avert
The first stuffed bear soft toy showed signs of appearing on the scene when Margarete Steiff registered patents for 23 of her soft toy designs, including a dancing bear and a bear handler with a brown bear in 1899.

The first 'Teddy' bear was made in 1902.  
 
The name “Teddy Bear” comes from - President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.  
 
In November 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi but had been unable to shoot a bear. In desperation, on the last day, the president’s hunting party captured and tethered a bear to a tree. When Roosevelt arrived at the scene he refused to shoot the bear as it was unsportsmanlike. The incident was immortalized in the Washington Post with a cartoon by Clifford Berryman showing Roosevelt, his gun in front of him with the butt resting on the ground and his back to the animal, gesturing his refusal to make the shot.  
 
In Brooklyn, New York, shopkeepers Morris & Rose Michtom made a plush toy bear which was placed in the window of their stationary shop calling it “Teddy’s Bear”. Michtom formed the Ideal Novelty and Toy Corporation and became the first company to produce teddy bears.  
 
In late October 1902 in Germany, Richard Steiff, the nephew of Margarete Steiff, was working for his aunt designing new soft toys. He came up with design for a teddy bear based on the bears he had seen at the local zoo. The Steiff Company of Giengen produced its first jointed stuffed bears during the same 1902-1903 period. Steiff teddy bears were first introduced at the 1903 Leipzig Fair
Teddy bears through the years
Teddy Bear manufacturers
bear-sew Photo Mishka Henner and Liz Lock
Aetna To Animal Company. Founded in 1901: the Aetna Toy Animal Co. in New York. 1906 till 1915 they sold the Aetna-bear, which originally was called the Keystone-bear.Wholesale dealer George Borgfeldt & Co. was the exclusive sales agent. Later called Aetna Doll & Toy Co. In 1919 E.I. Horsmann Co. from New York take over the company.The Aetna Toy Animal Co. marked their Bears with a black, printed, oval line around their name, which was placed on the right feet.

Bing Gebrüder Bing was founded in Nuremberg in 1865 by Ignaz and Adolf Bing to make tin and kitchenware and later enameled and tin toys around 1890. They made their first bears in 1907 at the height of the teddy bear boom.  
 
Bruin Manufacturing Co. BMC-trademark. An American company from the early years of the Teddy Bear. The Bruin bears are very traditional from design, with long bodies and long paws.

Build-A-Bear Workshop
, Inc., (American) founded in 1997, is an American retailer headquartered in Overland, Missouri, that sells teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Customers go through an interactive process in which the stuffed animal of their choice is assembled and customized during their visit to the store. Build-A-Bear Workshop is the largest chain that operates in this style.  
 
Bukowski Design AB is a Swedish company specialising in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of teddybears and other stuffed animals as well as decorations and similar items.  
 
Chad Valley The Chad Valley Toy Company had its origins in a printing and book binding business that was set up in Birmingham England by an Anthony Bunn Johnson. A small stream called the Chad flowed close by the new factory and it soon acquired the name of The Chad Valley Works from which the registered trade mark "Chad Valley" was derived. Johnstone Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, began to produce a range of cardboard games and toys which was gradually extended over the years. With the outbreak of the First World War (1914-1918) the imports of toys and games into the United Kingdom stopped and the company produced its first soft toys, a range of traditional, jointed, plush Teddy Bears in 1915. Their bears received the Royal warrant from the Queen in 1938 which featured on their labels. In 1953 their label said "Queen Mother" after Britain's current Queen acceded to the throne.  
 
Character Toy and Novelty Co. In 1932, Caesar Mangiapani and Jack Levy opened up the Character Novelty Co. in Norwalk, Connecticut. After the WWII the company grew quickly, when they started to sell a big assortment of toy animals, among which Teddy Bears. In that period, the company sold to all the major warehouses and had their own showroom in New York. 
Jack Levy left in 1960, but the company existed until Caesar Mangiapani died in 1983.

Chiltern
or Chiltern Toy Works started in Chesham in Buckinghamshire in 1908 by Joseph Eisenmann. The first teddy was produced in 1915. When Joseph died in 1919, the factory was left to Leon Rees, his son in law. Leon moved to Waterside in Chesham a year later and in partnership with Harry Stone formed H.G. Stone and Co. Ltd. They opened a second factory in Tottenham, London in 1921.One of the most popular Chiltern teddy bears was the Hugmee range of bears introduced in 1923. A year later in 1924, Chiltern Toys was registered. Manufacturing moved to Amersham, Bucks and continued producing bears until the factory’s closing in 1960.  

Columbia Teddy Bear Manufactors. Introduced the "Laughing Roosevelt" in 1907.

Crämer Bears Eduard Cramer was born in 1858 and trained as a tailor. However due to lack of work he began to use his skills to design soft toys. Many of his designs were rather different and were often brightly coloured but were always top quality.  
 
The Dean's Rag Book Co Ltd Britain's oldest teddy bear company. Dean's were established in 1903, and first began producing teddy bears in 1915. To this day, Dean's bears are highly prized and collected around the world.  

Ealontoys 'Ealontoys' was the trademark of East London Toy Factory Ltd., registered in 1926. The name was changed to Ealontoys Ltd. in 1948. In 1950 the company was described as 'the Teddy Bear People'. Early 1950's the company closed.

F.A.D.A.P. Fabrique Artistique d'Animaux en Peluche. Based in Divonne-les-Bains, France, near the Swiss border. In the fifties the company made a new range of Teddy Bears in cooperation with the American company Ideal Toy Corporation. The company was closed down in the 1970s. 
 
Farnell John Kirby Farnell or J. K. Farnell (UK) was a London company which manufactured the first British teddy bear in 1906. Farnell rapidly became one of the leading teddy bear manufacturers, registering the Alpha trademark in 1925. It finally ceased trading in the 1960s and the Farnell name was taken over by Merrythought in 1996.  
 
Fisher-Price (American) is an American company that produces toys for infants and children, founded in 1930 by Herman Fisher, Irving Price, Price's illustrator-artist wife Margaret Evans Price, and Helen Schelle. Fisher-Price has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel since 1993.  
 
Gabrielle Designs was started in Doncaster by Shirley Clarkson from her home in Doncaster, England. She was originally commissioned to design some tea cosys by a local shop, which she fashioned to look like cockerels. These proved popular and in 1971, using her middle name as inspiration, 'Gabrielle' Designs was born. As a gift for her children Shirley would lovingly craft that year's toy of choice, having recently read and loved Michael Bond's new book about a 'delightful little bear called Paddington' with illustrations by Peggy Fortnum. Shirley knew at once that was to be this year's toy. Not only that but once the first bear had been put together from studying Fortnum's original drawings, she knew it was going to be a Gabrielle product. After some negotiations with lawyers representing Michael Bond Gabrielle Designs was granted the first licence to manufacture a Paddington Bear™ soft toy.  
 
Gebrüder Süssenguth Founded by the Süssenguth brothers in Neustadt, Bavaria, Germany, for the production of dolls bodies and heads of composite for the German dolls industry. Around 1925 the company made a unique, but at that time not very popular, bear: 'Peter'. 
 
Ganz founded in 1950 by Holocaust survivors Samuel Ganz and sons Jack and Sam Ganz, it was originally called Ganz Bros.Toys and sold products for the Canadian home market. 

Grisly Speilwaren Teddy Bear company was founded by Karl Theodor Unfricht in 1954 in Kirchheimbolanden, a small German town between Heidelberg and Frankfurt. The production of their toys started with a collection of teddy bears and soft toys designed by his wife Luise Unfricht.  
 
Gund is a manufacturer of plush stuffed animals. It was founded by Adolph Gund in 1898. On July 1, 2008, Gund was sold to Enesco, a gift company known for among other things the Cherished Teddies line.  
Gund created many of the industry standards today including safety standards and the manufacturing processes for toys. Sweldin, who bought the company from Gund when he retired in 1925, became the first licensor of cartoon characters, producing plush toy versions of Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, and Tigger.  

Harman Manufacturing Company is a New York company that made teddy bears and other items like teddy bear purses and teddy dolls. Many Harman bears had voice boxes, short bristle mohair, arms set low on body and straight legs.

Harwin & Co. A British firm with a factory in North London created by G.W. Harwin.  They produced needlework's, felt dolls, caricatures and Teddy Bears. These were mostly designed by his daughter Dorothy Harwin. The company ceased in 1930. 

Hecla was an American manufacturer that made bears from the early 1900’s. Hecla bears had voice boxes in direct competition to Steiff. Hecla teddy bears were made with imported German mohair and were assembled by German toymakers making it very difficult to tell the difference between Hecla bears and those made by Steiff.

Hermann is an international manufacturer of teddy bears and other plush toys based in Hirschaid, Germany. Teddy-Hermann is one of the oldest teddy bear producers in Germany, founded in 1912. Its products are highly valued among collectors.  
 
Ideal Novelty & Toy Co. Morris and Rose Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in Brooklyn when they invented the Teddy bear in 1903.  After Michtom's death in 1938, the company changed its name to the Ideal Toy Company, and Michtom's nephew Abraham Katz became chief executive.

Invicta bears were founded in 1934 in London and produced some wonderful collectible bears highly prized by collectors today. Invicta teddy bears ceased trading in the 1950s making them pretty few and far between these days.  

Jakas Soft Toys began production in 1954 in Melbourne, Australia, by English couple Joe and Marion Stanford, reaching its peak in the 1960s-80s.

Joy-Toys The teddy bear industry began in Australia in South Yarra, Melbourne. Joy Toys commenced business in the early 1920s, as teddies became popular, and as WW1 meant a ban on teddies being imported from Germany, and disrupted shipments from Britain. Established by George Kirby and his wife, the company flourished.
  
Knickerbocker was first established in 1850. It is an American company, and its factories were located in New York. Initially the company produced educational toys. It was not until the 1920s that Knickerbocker bears came onto the market. The company went bankrupt in the 1980s but has since been resurrected and continues to produce teddies to this day.  
 
M. Pintel Fils & Cie. This Paris based company, produced toy-animals, caricatures and dolls. In the early twenties they began to make Teddy Bears. Pintel also made mechanical bears, among which a dressed bear on a wind-up tricycle. In the sixties it went downhill with the company and later they closed down.

Merrythought was founded in 1930 by William Gordon Holmes to provide a use for the mohair plush produced by a Yorkshire mill he’d bought. The name is Old English for 'wishbone’, although no one knows its relevance to teddies. Merrythought prospered, and is the only one of Holmes’s factories to survive.  
 
Nakajima Nakajima USA, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nakajima Japan, a family run company founded in 1919. A seasoned company in the design and manufacture of licensed plush, collectible and seasonal toys and gifts.

Peacock & Co. Ltd. Peacock puzzles was started in 1853 by Edward James Peacock. He was a Baptist Reverend as well as being a Carpenter. In 1853 he opened Peacock and Co making children's furniture and toys in London. In 1861 the company passed to Edward's son William. Upon William's death the business passed to his two sons and became Peacock Brothers. In 1918 it became a Limited Company, with a member of the Hamley family as one of the Shareholders. Peacock and Co Ltd continued until the firm was acquired by Chad Valley c. 1934.

Pedigree Soft Toys Ltd. Old bears made by the Pedigree Soft Toy Company begin in 1937 when the company was first formed. The Pedigree Soft Toy company was born from a previous company, Lines brothers who at one point owned the largest physical company in the world with their 27 acre factory in the UK. However the Pedigree brand really boomed during the 1950's and 60 and this is when most of their teddy bears were made. 

Schuco brand (Schreyer & Co) was started by a former employee of the Bing bear company, founded in 1912. Schuco teddy bears come from Germany.  
 
Steiff is a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality. It was begun in 1880 by Margarete Steiff, who was later assisted by her brother Fritz. Steiff's nephew Richard joined in 1897 and gave the company an enormous boost in popularity by creating the teddy bear in 1902. By 1907, Steiff manufactured 974,000 bears, and has been increasing its output ever since. The famed "button in ear" was devised by Margarete's nephew Franz in 1904, to keep counterfeits from being passed off as authentic Steiff toys. It is metal and originally had the symbol of an elephant, later replaced by the name "Steiff". The button is still used to distinguish Steiff toys from fakes. Some special toys have both the elephant and the name.  
 
Strauss Manufacturing Co The Strauss Manufacturing Co. made toys, games and musical novelties; they produced new Teddy Bear designs when the Teddy Bear craze was at his highest. The so-called toys king from New York, was mainly known for his Self-Whistling Bear from 1907, with a mechanism which was activated when the bear was turned upside down. They also made a musical wind up bear with a turning key on his back.
 
Teddy Atelier Stursberg is an international well-known Teddybear Company since 1995. They started their business in Wuppertal, Germany. Moved later to Berlin, Germany. Since 2003 they work in the UK. - The teddies are handmade items, made of high quality materials (mainly Mohair). They are all limited to one item.  
 
Ty Inc. is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Oak Brook IL, a suburb of Chicago USA. 
Founded by Ty Warner in 1986, Ty is now the largest manufacturer of plush in the world. It designs, develops and sells products exclusively to specialty markets worldwide.

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company (VTB) was founded in 1983 by John Sortino, who sold handcrafted teddy bears in an open-air market in Burlington, Vermont. It's one of the largest producers of teddy bears and the largest seller of teddy bears by mail order and Internet. The company handcrafts each of its teddy bears and produces almost 500,000 teddy bears each year.

Verna Toys This company was founded in 1941 in Victoria, Australia by Eve Barnett and they mostly made dolls. In 1948 the company was bought by Arthur Eaton, that's when they started to make Teddy Bears.

William J. Terry In 1890, William J. Terry founded his toy factory in the north of London. From c. 1919 they started to make Teddy Bears. W.J. Terry died in 1924 and his son took over the company. Around the beginning of the Second World War the factory shut down.