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33 Top Teddy Bear Facts You Probably Never Knew!
The sweet 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. While, in its more than one hundred year history, the humble teddy has conquered the World from Europe to America to Japan and back. And, even though our once simpler lives are now suffocated by so much technology, the plain old plush seems more popular than ever — just Google him! 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 stuffed bear soft toy showed signs of appearing on the scene when Margarete Steiff filed patents for 23 of her soft toy designs, including a dancing bear and a bear handler with a brown bear in 1899.
3. History is made — Brooklyn shopkeeper, Morris Michtom sells the world’s first ‘Teddy Bear’ in his shop in November 1902.
4. In March 1903, up to 3000 stuffed bear toys are sent across to America by the Steiff Company in Germany.
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 very first time in another advertisement in Toys by American producer EJ Horsman.
7. “Teddy Bear” was one of the first illustrated books based on these popular soft toys, written by Alice Scott.
8. In 1907, music history was made when music to 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 actually added until 1932 by prolific British songwriter Jimmy Kennedy.
9. In 1908, the company JK Farnell started manufacturing the first British plushies. The company was originally founded in London’s Notting Hill as a silk merchant and first produced tea cushions and pincushions. But, it is believed that their Alpha bear of 1925 was the inspiration for the creation of Winnie the Pooh.
10. In 1909, the first animated cartoon “Little Johnny and the Teddy Bears” appeared in the United States.
11. In 1912, when the world received news of the sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage with shocked disbelief, the German soft toy company led by Steiff created a black bear to give as memorial gifts to all those who lost loved ones on the Titanic .
12. In 1919, the adorable teddy bear was airborne on its first non-stop transatlantic flight! Aviation pioneers, Alcock and Brown, brought teddy bears with them on that 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 homes every morning for Britons when the first British cartoon teddy bear character, Bobby Bear, was published in the London-based Daily Herald newspaper.
14. The following year, in 1920, the first Rupert Bear picture story, Little Lost Bear, written and illustrated by Mary Tourtel, found its way into the UK 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 appeared when the first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh was published by AA Milne in 1926.
17. In 1944, even as forest fires wreaked havoc across the United States, Smokey Bear was adopted as the mascot of the American Forest Prevention Campaign.
18. Sooty, the teddy bear glove puppet and magician, debuted on British television in 1952. Soot became very popular in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, 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, a father handed over the job of puppeteer to son Matthew in 1976. Matthew retired in the late nineties with the popularity of Sooty undiminished .
19. 1953 was the Golden Jubilee of the first Steiff soft toy bear. It was celebrated with a new-style bear, a “comic young bear cub”, named Jackie Baby.
20. A common dilemma was solved when Wendy Boston, a Welsh toy maker, produced the first truly washable soft toy in 1954.
21. 1958 saw another hugely 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 launches The Teddy Bear Club in 1962.
24. The first animated film about Winnie-the-Pooh is produced by Walt Disney in 1975. It immediately became a classic.
25. In 1979, the Marquis of Bath organized the Great Teddy Bear Rally at Longleat.
26. In a departure from its usual items, auction house Christie’s of London held the first auction for just a teddy bear 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 took place in London.
29. That same year, in 1989, Happy Anniversary, a 1926 vintage mohair Steiff bear, was sold at auction in London for a whopping £55,000 to American Paul Volpp as a 42nd wedding anniversary present for his wife, Rosemary.
30. In 1990, Steiff moved to the UK with the first Steiff UK Limited Edition teddy.
31. The teddy bear crossed continents and liked everyone. 1994 saw Teddy Girl, a 1904 cinnamon Steiff bear that had previously been in the possession of Colonel Bob Henderson, be sold at auction in London for a staggering £110,000 to Yoshihiro Sekiguchi. Sekiguchi went on to establish the Teddy Bear Museum in Izu, Japan.
32. In 1996, Yoshihiro Sekiguchi of the Izu Teddy Bear Museum bought Teddy Edward, the most traveled bear in the world, at auction for… £34,500.
33. You thought there were only medium sized teddy bears? Well, Guinness (8.5 mm tall), made by Lynn Lumb from Halifax, England, entered the hallowed portals of The Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s smallest teddy bear.
Never thought the humble teddy packed such a long history, did you?
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