100th Anniversary of the Teddy Bear
DRAWING THE LINE IN MISSISSIPPI
April 2, 1869 -- December 11, 1949
In November 1902, president Theodore Roosevelt went to Mississippi to help settle a boundary dispute with Louisiana. While there he joined other in an unsuccessful bear hunt. A fellow hunter captured a bear, tied it to a tree and summoned the President to shoot it. Upon seeing the defenseless bear, Roosevelt did not have the heart to do so. Clifford Berryman, a cartoonist with the Washington Post drew a picture depicting Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot the bear called “Drawing the Line”, which was published in newspapers across the nation.
Morris and Rose Michtom, a Russian immigrant couple, had a store in Brooklyn NY and saw the cartoon. Rose made a small-stuffed bears to sell in their store. Morris wrote to the president requesting permission to call the hand made bears “Teddy’s Bears”. The President replied giving his permission, but added that he did not think that using his name would help sell the bears. The bears proved to be very popular and soon were mass-produced. The profits from the sale of these bears started what later became the Ideal Toy Co.
At the same time, jointed plush bears were being developed in Germany by a family business headed by Margarete Steiff. In 1902 Margarete Steiff’s nephew, Richard Steiff developed the first bears with movable limbs and shaggy mohair fur. At first the Steiff bears were unsuccessful, until in March 1903 when exhibiting at the Leipzig Fair, Hermann Berg a toy buyer for the New York department store George Borgfeldt and Co. bought 3,000 of the Steiff teddy bears. By 1907 Steiff were making 975,000 a year, 90% of which were exported to the USA……………………………………the rest is history!