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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 can trace its origins back to one of America’s greatest presidents. Whereas, in its more than one hundred year history, the humble stuffed animal has conquered the world from Europe to America to Japan and back. And while our once simpler lives are now drowning in so much technology, the old stuffed animal seems more popular than ever – just Google it! Here are some more 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 handler with a brown bear on 1899
3. History is made: Brooklyn grocer Morris Michtom sells the world’s first “teddy bear” in his store in November 1902.
4. In March 1903, the Steiff Company in Germany shipped up to 3,000 teddy bear toys to America.
5. Bear toys were called ‘Bruins’ in those days. The first advertisement for 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 first time in another advertisement in Playthings by the American manufacturer EJ Horsman.
7. “Teddy Bear” was one of the first picture 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 weren’t added until 1932 by prolific British songwriter Jimmy Kennedy.
9. In 1908, the JK Farnell company began manufacturing the first British soft toys. The company was originally founded in London’s Notting Hill as a silk merchant and first produced tea pads and cushions. But, it is believed that his 1925 bear Alpha was the inspiration for the creation of Winnie the Pooh.
10. In 1909, the first teddy bear cartoon “Little Johnny and the Teddy Bears” appeared in the United States.
11. In 1912, when the world received the news of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage with shocked disbelief, the German plush toy company led by Steiff created a black bear to give as a gift of mourning to all those who lost loved ones in 1912. Titanic.
12. In 1919, the adorable teddy bear flew on his first non-stop transatlantic flight! Aviation pioneers Alcock and Brown took stuffed animals with them on this record-breaking flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland in a modified WW1 Vickers Vimy bomber.
13. The teddy bear entered thousands of British homes every morning when Britain’s first stuffed comic book character, Bobby Bear, was published in London’s Daily Herald newspaper.
14. The following year, in 1920, Rupert Bear’s first illustrated story, 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 with a teddy bear theme, Alice and the Three Bears.
16. One of the most famous and beloved bears of all time, Winnie-the-Pooh made his appearance when the first edition of AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh was published in 1926.
17. In 1944, even as wildfires ravaged the US, Smokey Bear was adopted as the mascot of the US Wildfire Prevention Campaign.
18. Sooty, the wizard and glove puppet teddy bear, debuted on British television in 1952. Sooty became very popular in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. So much so that Sooty is now the UK’s longest-running children’s TV show and turned 60 in 2008. Designed by Harry Corbett, the father handed over the job of puppeteer to his son Matthew in 1976. Matthew retired to late nineties with Sooty’s popularity undiminished. .
19. 1953 was the Golden Jubilee of Steiff’s first teddy bear. It was celebrated with a new style bear, “a comical young bear cub”, named Jackie Baby.
20. A common dilemma was solved when Welsh toymaker Wendy Boston produced the first truly washable teddy bear in 1954.
21. Another hugely loved and popular bear, Paddington Bear, first appeared on the scene in 1958. This year saw the publication of the first Paddington story, A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond.
22. In a major development, Walt Disney acquired the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh in 1959.
23. Colonel Bob Henderson starts The Teddy Bear Club in 1962.
24. The first animated film about Winnie-the-Pooh was produced by Walt Disney in 1975. It immediately became a classic.
25. In 1979, the Marquess of Bath organized the Great Teddy Bear Rally at Longleat.
26. Unlike their regular items, Christie’s auction house in London held the first ever teddy bear auction in 1985.
27. In 1988, Gyles and Michele Brandreth set up The Teddy Bear Museum in William Shakespeare’s hometown 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 mohair Steiff bear, sold at auction in London for a whopping £55,000 to American Paul Volpp as a 42nd birthday present for wedding for his wife, Rosemary.
30. In 1990, Steiff crossed over to the UK with the first Steiff UK Limited Edition soft toys.
31. The teddy bear had crossed continents and was loved by all. In 1994, Teddy Girl, a 1904 cinnamon Steiff bear formerly in the possession of Colonel Bob Henderson, was sold at auction in London for an astonishing £110,000 to Yoshihiro Sekiguchi. Sekiguchi 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 auction for… 34,500 pounds.
33. Thought there were only medium-sized stuffed bones? Well, Guinness (8.5mm tall), made by Lynn Lumb of Halifax, England, entered the hallowed portals of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s smallest teddy bear.
Never thought the humble stuffed animal had such a long history, eh?
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