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33 Top Teddy Bear Facts You Probably Never Knew!
The cute and cuddly teddy bear is over a hundred years old. In fact, it even predates World War I, and its origins can be traced back to one of America’s greatest presidents. While in its history of over a hundred years, the humble teddy has conquered the world from Europe to America to Japan and back. And, even though our once simpler lives are now smothered in so much technology, the plain old teddy seems more popular than ever – just Google it! Here are some amazing facts about this childhood classic and 20th century icon.
1. Bears first appeared on the literary scene in the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” written by Robert Southey in 1834.
2. The first teddy bear plush showed signs of appearing on the scene when Margarete Steiff filed patents for 23 of her plush designs, including a dancing bear and a bear trainer with a brown bear in 1899.
3. History is made – Brooklyn shopkeeper Morris Michtom sells the world’s first “Teddy’s Bear” from his shop in November 1902.
4. In March 1903, no fewer than 3,000 teddy bears were shipped to America by the Steiff company in Germany.
5. Bear toys were called “Bruins” back then. The first advertisement for the Bruins appeared in the American toy trade magazine Playthings in May 1906.
6. That same year, in November, the words “Teddy Bear” appeared for the very first time in another advertisement in Playthings by American manufacturer EJ Horsman.
7. “Teddy Bear” was one of the first illustrated books based on these popular stuffed animals, written by Alice Scott.
8. In 1907, music history was made when the music for the famous song, The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, was written by American composer JK Bratton. The song was originally called The Teddy Bear Two Step and the lyrics we know and love today were only added in 1932 by prolific British songwriter Jimmy Kennedy.
9. In 1908, the JK Farnell company started making the first British teddy bears. The company was originally founded in Notting Hill in London as a silk merchant and initially produced tea pods and pincushions. But their 1925 Alpha bear is believed to have inspired the creation of Winnie the Pooh.
10. In 1909, the first plush cartoon “Little Johnny and the Teddy Bears” appeared in the United States.
11. In 1912, as the world received the news of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage with shocked disbelief, the German plush company run by Steiff created a black bear to give as a bereavement gift to all those who lost loved ones on the Titanic.
12. In 1919, the adorable teddy took off on his first non-stop transatlantic flight! Aviation pioneers Alcock and Brown took plush mascots with them on this record-breaking flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Ireland, in a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber.
13. The teddy bear entered thousands of British homes every morning when Britain’s first teddy cartoon character, Bobby Bear, was published in London’s Daily Herald newspaper.
14. The following year, in 1920, Rupert Bear’s first illustrated novel, Little Lost Bear, written and illustrated by Mary Tourtel, found its way into the British newspaper The Daily Express.
15. In 1924, animated film giant Walt Disney produced the first color animated film about the teddy bear Alice and the Three Bears.
16. One of the most famous and beloved bears of all time, Winnie-the-Pooh came into existence when the first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh was published by AA Milne in 1926.
17. In 1944, even as wildfires were wreaking havoc across the United States, Smokey Bear was adopted as the mascot of the United States Forest Fire Prevention Campaign.
18. Sooty, the teddy bear glove puppet and magician, made his British TV debut in 1952. Sooty became hugely popular in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. So much so that Sooty is now the longest running children’s television show in the UK and turned 60 in 2008. Conceived by Harry Corbett, the father handed the puppeteer job to his son Matthew in 1976. Matthew retired in the late 90s with Sooty’s popularity intact. .
19. 1953 was the golden jubilee of Steiff’s first teddy bear. He was celebrated with a new style of bear, “a comical young bear”, called Jackie Baby.
20. A common dilemma was solved when Wendy Boston, a Welsh toymaker, produced the first truly washable teddy bear in 1954.
21. 1958 saw another immensely loved and popular bear, Paddington Bear, appear on the scene for the first time. The first Paddington story, A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond was published this year.
22. In a significant development, Walt Disney acquired the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh in 1959.
23. Colonel Bob Henderson started the Teddy Bear Club in 1962.
24. The first animated Winnie-the-Pooh movie was produced by Walt Disney in 1975. It instantly became a classic.
25. In 1979 the Marquess of Bath organized the Great Teddy Bear Rally at Longleat.
26. Unlike its usual items, London auction house Christie’s held the first-ever auction of teddy bears alone in 1985.
27. In 1988, Gyles and Michele Brandreth established The Teddy Bear Museum in William Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon.
28. The following year, in 1989, the first British Teddy Bear Festival was held in London.
29. That same year, 1989, Happy Anniversary, a vintage 1926 Steiff mohair bear, was sold at auction in London for a whopping £55,000 to American Paul Volpp as a 42nd wedding anniversary gift from his wife, Rosemary.
30. In 1990 Steiff moved to the UK with the first Steiff UK Limited Edition teddies.
31. The teddy bear had crossed continents and made everyone love it. In 1994, Teddy Girl, a 1904 Steiff cinnamon bear previously owned by Colonel Bob Henderson, was sold at auction in London for the staggering sum of £110,000 to Yoshihiro Sekiguchi. Sekiguchi then established the Teddy Bear Museum in Izu, Japan.
32. In 1996, Yoshihiro Sekiguchi of the Izu Teddy Bear Museum bought Teddy Edward, the world’s most traveled bear, at an auction for…£34,500.
33. You thought there were only medium-sized teddy bears? Well, Guinness (8.5mm tall), made by Lynn Lumb of Halifax, England, has entered the hallowed portals of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s smallest teddy bear.
Never thought the humble teddy had such a long history, huh?
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