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American Craftsmanship A Tour Of American Made Teddy Bears

American Craftsmanship: A Tour Of American Made Teddy Bears

Ah, Teddy Bears- a true American icon ruling the hearts of people for more than a century. These toys are not just static figures anymore. Over the years, they have become a symbol of companionship, love, nostalgia, and comfort.

This blog post will take you on a tour of the exciting American Made Teddy Bears world. From their history to the story behind their name to exploring some of the most valuable antique teddy bears from around the world, brace yourself because this will be the ride of a lifetime.

History Of American-Made Teddy Bears

The Teddy Bear has two notable origin stories- one has roots in Germany, and the other is tied to America. Let’s take an in-depth look at both.

It All Started With The German Steiff Company

Plush toys like Teddy Bears are believed to have existed since Ancient Egypt. However, it was only during the 1890s that modern stuffed toys were available to the general public.

As history holds, the German Steiff company led by Margarete Steiff and Richard Steiff is credited with creating the first-ever stuffed animal. It was an elephant that Margarete sewed for her best friend.

Richard started designing more characters for these stuffies over the years. And in 1902, the company began making toys that would later be known as Teddy Bears.

Richard brought the first teddies to a Leipzig spring fair, where an American customer ordered 3000 more teddies. And this gave birth to the widespread popularity of German-made teddy bears in the US.

So, how come Teddy Bears are considered a symbol of American craftsmanship? The next section will give you that answer.

Teddy’s Bear: How Was The Name Derived?

How Was The Name Derived

During the same time when Richard designed the first teddy bear, the 26th US President, Theodore Roosevelt, embarked on a bear hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi, in November 1902.

Unfortunately, unlike other hunters, Theodore failed to locate a single bear. This is when Roosevelt’s team of assistants, led by Holt Collier, captured and tied a black bear to a tree. They suggested the president should shoot it.

Surprisingly, Roosevelt refused to do so because he thought the act was extremely unsportsmanlike. This event got the public eye when news of it was published throughout the country.

Roosevelt had a reputation for being the Big Game Hunter. Hence, the news of his refusal to shoot down a bear surprised the whole country.

The news also caught the attention of a political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman, who published a cartoon to satirize the president’s decision. The cartoon was published in the Washington Post.

Here’s where things get interesting.

white bear amazon walmart

On seeing the cartoon in the newspaper, Morris Michtom, a then candy shop owner, came up with the plan to replicate the cartoon and create a stuffed animal. He put his plan into action with the help of his wife, Rose, and dedicated the toy to the president to honor his decision to save the bear.

On getting the president’s permission to use his first name, Michtom named the stuffed bear “Teddy’s Bear.” Hence, this is how the legendary bear-inspired stuffed toy was made in America, which we now know as Teddy Bear.

Is that even a question? From a child’s first birthday to Valentine’s Day to anniversaries and holidays, teddy bears are still one of the most gifted items on various occasions.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, we hope you’re aware of Teddy Day, right? It is officially celebrated on February 10th of each year. On this day, lovers, friends, and families gift a teddy bear to their loved ones to signify the day and express their love and affection.

American Made Teddy Bears

Data also backs up the ever-popularity of teddy bears:

·In 2004, over 36 million teddies were sold in the US.

·To this day, more than 100 million stuffed animals are sold in the US annually. Most of these stuffies are teddies.

·Over 50 million teddy bears are gifts in the US alone.

·Teddy bears are popular not only in the US. In fact, the stuffed toy is the official national symbol of Japan.

·As per a report in 2013, the average American spends around $220 on teddy bears annually.

5 Most Valuable Plush Teddy Bears In The World

Steiff Louis Vuitton Teddy Bear

Steiff Louis Vuitton Teddy Bear From 2002

Produced in 2002, the Steiff Louis Vuitton Teddy Bear resulted from a collaboration between the German toy company and the French luxury fashion house.

Believe it or not, this teddy bear was bought at a whopping price of $2,100,000 by the proprietor of Korea’s Teddy Bear Museum, Jesse Kim.

The teddy is dressed in an exquisite Louis Vuitton outfit with 24-carat gold accents. But it’s not just the outer appearance that adds up to its hefty price tag. The bear itself is made of gold fiber and mohair.

Happy Anniversary Teddy Bear From 1926

Just a little less expensive than the LV Teddy is this Happy Anniversary Teddy Bear, created by Steiff in 1926. It’s nicknamed Happy.

This exquisite teddy found a temporary home in 1989 when it was purchased by a couple, Paul and Rosemary Vlopp. Originally the couple set out with a not-so-modest limit of $10,000 for their anniversary gift. However, they ended up spending $86,000 on Happy.

Later, Happy was purchased for £ 101,556 in 2002 at the Steiff Festival in Germany.

Teddy Girl Bear From 1904

Teddy Girl Bear’s heartwarming tale is tied to Colonel Robert “Bob” Henderson. This cinnamon-hued bear, with mohair and boot button eyes, was gifted to him on his birth, which he kept till his passing in 1990. He named him Teddy Boy.

Later, Henderson gave the toy to his daughter Cynthia when she was born. The bear was renamed Teddy Girl after Cynthia dressed it in a frilly woman’s outfit.

The bear fetched £111,000 at a 1994 Christie’s auction after being bought by Japan’s Izu Teddy Bear Museum proprietor.

Teddy Girl Bear From 1904

Steiff Titanic Mourning Bear From 1912

As given in its name, The Steiff Titanic Mourning Bear was a limited-edition black mohair teddy created by Steiff after the tragic Titanic accident in 1912. The company produced 665 bears in five different sizes.

The highest price realized for this teddy was $131,937.

Harlequin Teddy Bear From 1925

Straying away from the standard brown and black colored teddies, the Harlequin Teddy Bear is half-red and half-blue with yellow felt pads. The eyes are also of different colors, one is blue, and the other is brown.

The original Harlequin bear was believed to be an unproduced prototype. It was sold for just under $75,000 at a famous auction house.

The good news is that the Harlequin Teddy is coming back in 2023 as part of Steiff’s eco-friendly “Teddies For Tomorrow” collection.

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