The Teddy Bear Essay, Research Paper
History of the Teddy Bear
There are many variations of the story explaining the origin of the teddy bear. Some believe it was
completely a German creation. Others believe it was American. Some say it was a combination of the two.
Still, others think it started in England.
The first story is that of Margarete Steiff, a woman born in Giengen, Germany in 1847. When she was
only two, she contracted polio and spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair (Margarete). That didn’t stop her
from being productive. She loved children and they visited her often (The).
One day, she noticed a pattern in a magazine for a toy elephant. She started making a few elephants and
gave them as gifts to friends and neighbors. Childrem loved it! Then, she started making other animals like a
poodle, a bear, and a donkey (Margarete).
Her nephew, Richard had been fascinated with bears. He had been watching a family of brown bears at
Nills Animal show and sketching their antics for his aunt (Origin). He also helped her with designing her stuffed
bears. In 1903, he brought some of her bears to the famous Leipzig fair (Margarete).
This is where the story would end for one who believed the bear’s origins were only in Germany. But, on
the last day of the fair, a man named Hermann Berg, a buyer from a New York firm called Geo Borgfeldt & Co.,
went to the Steiff stand. He’d been complaining that there was nothing new at the fair. Then, he saw the bear
and knew there’d be a market for it in the U.S. He placed an order for 3,000 bears (Margarete).
That very year, Theodore Roosevelt, (known as “Teddy” to close friends), had gone to the backwoods of
Mississippi hunting for bears. Several days passed and he and the rest of the expedition hadn’t caught a bear.
The guide then found a little bear cub in the brush and presented it to the President. He refused to kill it and sent
it back off to its mother (Origin).
Clifford Berryman, a political cartoonist for the Washington Post, heard the story of the little bear. It
touched him and he published a cartoon depicting Roosevelt’s refusal to kill the cub. The caption said “drawing
the line in Mississippi” (History). In later cartoons, Berryman always included the little bear with Roosevelt. He
called it “Teddy’s Bear” (Origin).
Two shop owners, Morris and Rose Michton, saw the cartoon. They had a toy and novelty store in
Brooklyn, New York. They had some toy bears there and Morris wrote to the President asking him if he could
name them Teddy, after him (History).
There is another story concerning the origin of the teddy bear, but it is not as well known or accepted.
The British claim the teddy bear was their creation because of King Edward VII. His nickname was “Teddy”
No matter which story you believe, you can probably agree that the teddy bear will remain a cherished
part of childhood. Children the world over have been cuddling these plush toys for almost 100 years. They are
certainly a traditional and timeless treasure.