A Lesson on Teddy Bears

Amazing Craft take us back in time to a world before teddy bears and tell us how they came about as the toys we love and cherish today. If you are feeling nostalgic or maybe you have young children in the family – Amazing Craft can help you make your very own bear too!

Own up…. how many of you still have a teddy bear sitting on your bed? Maybe it’s one from your childhood, maybe a recent addition to your life or maybe one that you have made yourself?  Although teddy bears and cuddly toys have been providing comfort and joy throughout our lives, did you know that the humble teddy bear has only been in existence for about 120 years?


The first ever teddy bear came into popular existence through a timely coincidence that took place in Germany and America in 1902. Let me explain…


It all started in America when the President, Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt had been invited out on a very public (and somewhat bizarre!) five day hunting trip to settle a dispute over land boundaries.  The hunting part of the trip was unsuccessful for the president and, even back then, the journalists had a field day reporting the president’s inability to shoot a trophy bear.  So, on the last day, to spare the president more ridicule, one of his aides thought it a good idea to capture a bear cub and tie it to a tree so that the president could shoot it!  Thankfully for the cub, the president refused announcing it was unsportsmanlike to take an animal that didn’t have a chance to defend itself.  This was a gift for the journalists who immediately ridiculed further him in the newspapers for being a ‘softie’ and showing compassion towards the cub! 


The Washington Post even printed a cartoon depicting the scene.  This was subsequently seen in New York by Morris Michtom who was a toymaker.  He suggested to his wife Rose that, for a topical laugh, she should design a toy bear and display it in their shop window and label it ‘Teddy’s bear’.  Before long, many people had asked if they could buy the cuddly bear but,  before they continued, they felt they should have the backing of the president.  They sent the original bear as a gift to the President’s children and rather amazingly he granted them permission to use his name.   And so, the production of Teddy’s bears began. 


Coincidently, at the same time in Germany, an inspirational and entrepreneurial young lady called Margeret Steiff, who had been selling felt elephants and toys for some years, took her nephew Richard to the zoo. They fell in love with a bear who lived in the zoo which then sparked the design of their first toy bear.  They proudly took their latest design to the Leipzig Toy Fair and were amazed when a buyer for an American company ordered 3,000 of the “55 PB” bears.  Within only a couple of years, they had created over 1 million teddy bears!


Before long, the hugely popular ‘Teddy’s bears’ became ‘Teddy bears’ and, fast forward to 2021, they are a symbol of cuddly gentleness and security the world over!


If you fancy making your own mohair teddy bear, Amazing Craft have a gorgeous range of cute toy patterns and kits.  They even have joints that allow the arms, legs and head to move too, just as the original Steiff Bear would have done too!

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