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Teddy bear

Teddy bear

Barryman's original cartoon

A Teddy bear is a stuffed toy bear for children. It is an enduring, traditional form of stuffed animal, often serving the purpose of comforting upset young children. It recent times, some teddy bears have become expensive collector's items.


It was named after former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was "Teddy" and who enjoyed bear-hunting. The name is said to come from an incident on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902, when Roosevelt's attendants found and caught a juvenile bear. Roosevelt refused to kill the lassoed animal, calling it "unsportsmanlike", and "Teddy's Bear" was immediately publicized by political cartoonists. The first such cartoon appeared the following day, November 16: Clifford Barryman, an editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post, immortalized the incident as part of a front-page cartoon montage. Barryman pictured Roosevelt with his gun beside him with the butt resting on the ground and his back to the bear, gesturing his refusal to take the trophy shot. Written across the lower part of the cartoon were the words "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," which coupled the hunting incident to a political dispute (see picture to the right).


Morris Michtom and his wife Rose displayed two stuffed bears in the window of their Brooklyn store shortly thereafter (February 15, 1903), and received President Roosevelt's permission to call them "Teddy's bears".

German toymaker Margarete Steiff had started to produce stuffed toy animals in 1880; the first one was a little elephant. Her nephew Richard Steiff convinced her to produce a toy bear cub in 1902. It was not very popular in Germany, but at the March 1903 Leipzig Toy Fair they were able to sell a shipment of 3000 to an American merchant. Michtom's bear had a more endearing, baby-faced appearance, while Steiff's more closely resembled a real bear cub. The Steiff company continues to produce teddy bears in Germany for worldwide export.

In recent years, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, has become a popular source of teddy bear-oriented gifts in the United States.

Kinds of Teddy Bears

Some Teddy bears are intended for children to play with, and others for adults, also called "collector items" or "Designer bears". The first type is usually an unjointed bear where arms, head and legs are stitched to the body. The other type (the ones for adults) are almost always fully jointed which means that the arms legs and heads are movable by being attached with disks and cotter pins.

Fictional teddy bears

Famous fictional teddy bears include Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh. Certain animal species, such as giant pandas and koalas, have benefited from their attractively strong resemblance to the toy and have received intense conservation efforts to preserve them. See List of fictional bears.

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