Burman Bears

THE ORIGINS OF THE TEDDY BEAR 

 In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi. As reported in the Washington Post, the presidential hunting party. trailed and lassoed a lean, black bear, then tied it to a tree. The president was summoned, but when he arrived on the scene he refused to shoot the tied and exhausted bear, considering it to be unsportsmanlike.

The following day, November 16, Clifford Barryman, Washington Post editorial cartoonist, immortalized the incident as part of a front-page cartoon montage. Barryman pictured Roosevelt, his gun before him with the butt resting on the ground and his back to the animal, 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.

The cartoon drew immediate attention. In Brooklyn, NY, shopkeeper Morris Michtom displayed 2 toy bears in the window of his Stionary and novilty store. The bears had been made by his wife, Rose from plush stuffed excelsior and finished with black shoe button eyes. Michtom recognized the immediate popularity of the new toy, requested and received permission from Roosevelt himself to call them "Teddy's Bears."

The little stuffed bears were a success. As demand for them increased, Michtom mooved his business to a loft, under the name of the Ideal Novelty and Toy Corporation.

At the same time as it was born in The United States, the Teddy Bear was also born in Germany. The Steiff Company of Giengen produced it's first jointed stuffed bears during the same 1902-1903 period. The company had made toys for a number of years and had produced small wool-felt pincushion type animals of many varities. The animals were the creation of Margaret Steiff. Steiff bears were first introduced at the 1903 Leipzig Fair, where an American buyer saw them and ordered several thousand for shipment to the US.

While other stories have been told regarding the birth of this wonderful toy, the simultaneous births in Brooklyn and Giengen are the best substantiated.

The cartoon at the top of this page is a later version of the Barryman cartoon as it appeared in The Washington Star.