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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 be traced back to one of America’s greatest presidents. While in its history of more than a century, the humble teddy bear has conquered the world from Europe to America to Japan and back. And while our once simpler lives are now suffocated by so much technology, it seems that the plain old teddy bear is 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 toy showed signs of arriving on the scene when Margarete Steiff registered patents for 23 of her plush toy designs in 1899, including a dancing bear and a brown bear handler.
3. History is being made – Brooklyn merchant Morris Michtom sells the world’s first “Teddy’s Bear” in his store in November 1902.
4. In March 1903, up to 3,000 teddy bears were shipped to America by the Steiff Company in Germany.
5. Bear toys were called ‘Bruins’ at the time. The first advertisement for Bruins appeared in the American toy magazine Playthings in May 1906.
6. In November of the same year, the words ‘Teddy Bear’ first appeared in another advertisement in Playthings by the American manufacturer EJ Horsman.
7. “Teddy Bear” was one of the first illustrated books based on these popular stuffed toys, written by Alice Scott.
8. In 1907, music history began to be written when the music for the famous song The Teddy Bear’s Picnic was written by the American composer JK Bratton. The song was originally called The Teddy Bear Two Step and the lyrics we know and love today were not added until 1932 by the prolific British songwriter Jimmy Kennedy.
9. In 1908, JK Farnell began producing the first British soft toys. The company was originally founded in London’s Notting Hill as a silk merchant and was the first to produce tea sweets and pin cushions. But their 1925 bear Alpha is believed to have been the inspiration for the creation of Winnie the Pooh.
10. In 1909, the first animated plush cartoon “Little Johnny and the Bears” appeared in the USA.
11. In 1912, when the world received news of the sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage with shocked disbelief, a German plush toy company led by Steiff created a black bear to give as mourning gifts to all those who had lost loved ones on the ship. Titanic.
12. In 1919, an adorable teddy bear took off through the air on their 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 the first British plush cartoon character, Bobby Bear, was published in London’s Daily Herald newspaper.
14. The following year, in 1920, Rupert Bear’s first picture story, Little Lost Bear, written and illustrated by Mary Tourtel, found its way into the British newspaper The Daily Express.
15. In 1924, the giant of animated films Walt Disney created the first color animated film with a teddy bear theme, Alice and the Three Bears.
16. Winnie the Pooh, one of the most famous and beloved bears of all time, appeared when the first edition of AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh was published in 1926.
17. In 1944, even as forest fires wreaked havoc across the US, Smokey Bear was adopted as the mascot of the United States Forest Fire Prevention Campaign.
18. Sooty, the teddy bear puppet and magician, made his debut 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, turning 60 in 2008. His father was designed by Harry Corbett and in 1976 passed the job of puppeteer to son Matthew. Matthew retired in the late 1990s and his popularity has not waned. .
19. 1953 was the golden jubilee of Steiff’s first teddy bear. It was celebrated with a new-style bear, a ‘comic young bear’ called Jackie Baby.
20. A common dilemma was solved when Wendy Boston, a Welsh toy manufacturer, produced the first truly washable teddy bear in 1954.
21. 1958, another hugely loved and popular bear, Paddington Bear, appeared on the scene for the first time. The first Paddington story, A Bear Named Paddington, by Michael Bond, was published this year.
22. In a major development, Walt Disney acquired the rights to Winnie the Pooh in 1959.
23. Colonel Bob Henderson founds the Teddy Bear Club in 1962.
24. The first Winnie the Pooh animated film was produced by Walt Disney in 1975. It became an instant classic.
25. In 1979 the Marquis of Bath organized the Big Teddy Bear Rally at Longleat.
26. In contrast to its usual items, in 1985 Christie’s of London auction house held the first ever auction with only teddy bears.
27. In 1988, Gyles and Michele Brandreth founded the Teddy Bear Museum in William Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.
28. The next year, in 1989, the first British Teddy Bear Festival was held in London.
29. That same year, 1989, Happy Anniversary, a 1926 Steiff mohair bear, was sold at auction in London for an incredible £55,000 to American Paul Volpp as a 42nd wedding anniversary present for his wife Rosemary.
30. In 1990, Steiff crossed over to the UK with the first Steiff UK Limited Edition teddy bears.
31. The teddy bear traveled across the continents and everyone liked him. In 1994 Teddy Girl, a 1904 Steiff cinnamon bear formerly in the possession of Colonel Bob Henderson, was sold at auction in London for a staggering £110,000 to Yoshihiro Sekiguchi. Sekiguchi went on to found 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 visited bear, at auction for…£34,500.
33. Did you think there were only average-sized teddy bears? Guinness (8.5 mm 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 bear had such a long history, huh?
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