Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Beary Best

Magnet # 338: London Figures Teddy Bears

Material: Rubber

Purchased By: Debbie

This has to be one of my favorite magnets - it's just so adorable! I had seen others like it on the web before, and when my friend brought it back after a trip, I was thrilled to get it. And considering this is National Teddy Bear Day, there's no better time to post it. This started off as a celebration limited to the United States, but just as the teddy bear itself, its popularity has spread worldwide. So, teddy bear lovers of the world unite - this is your day!

As ubiquitous as teddy bears seem to be nowadays, it's almost hard to imagine that there was a time when every child didn't have one. But teddy bears really didn't exist before the early 1900s. And oddly enough, they sprang up in two different parts of the world at almost the exact time. The teddy bear was introduced in the United States thanks in part to President Theodore Roosevelt. He had traveled down to Mississippi to resolve a border dispute between that state and Louisiana. While there, the Mississippi Governor invited him to a bear shooting competition. Most of the other competitors had already managed to shoot a bear, so Roosevelt was not having much luck finding one. Eventually, some of his attendants cornered a American Black Bear, clubbed it, and tied it to a tree, offering it up for the President to shoot. A true sportsman, he couldn't bring himself to do it. The incident circulated around the nation, inspiring a political cartoonist to create an image that was featured in The Washington Post. A Brooklyn candy shop owned who created stuffed animals named Morris Michtom saw it and created the stuffed bear. He secured permission to name it Teddy in the President's honor - oddly a nickname Roosevelt didn't care for much - and introduced his creation to the public. Meanwhile, over in Germany, the Steiff firm was debuting its own stuffed bear, created by Richard Steiff, with no knowledge of Michtom's bear. The bears became immensely popular, inspiring other companies to produce them. They were carried around by fashionable ladies, children had their photographs taken with them, and Roosevelt even used one as his mascot. Teddy bears may have changed since their early days, but they have never fallen out of popularity and are now a billion dollar industry. It's hard to imagine that any child in the United States, or even some countries around the world, doesn't own a teddy bear.

So what special activities can you do to celebrate National Teddy Bear Day? You could take your bear out on the town and show it off, or perhaps throw a teddy bear picnic. You could also buy a gift for your bear, perhaps an accessory. And if you have friends with bears, you could all get together with your stuffed friends for a party. Or if you're in a charitable mood, you could consider collecting teddy bears to donate to to underprivileged children. Of course, going to a place where you can create you own teddy bear is a great idea, like the Build-a-Bear-Workshop. But if you're really lucky, stop by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne, Vermont. For only two bucks, you can tour their factory, where they create some of the nicest teddy bears around. And if you want to design and create your own, try out their Make a Friend for Life factory. While I wasn't able to make it by there on my recent trip to New England, I'd like to see it someday. I've gotten quite a few teddy bears of my own over the years, and it might be fun to make one myself. If nothing else, grab one of your teddy bears, and give it a hug. We're lucky to have grown up in times where we all can have teddy bears - speaking personally, it's tough to imagine my childhood without one!


  1. What a really cute magnet. Yes, we have several teddy bears in our home also.

  2. A Teddy bear can make a great "pet" and you don't need to worry about food or walking it - and it never annoys the neighbors. Of course they don't add much to a conversation, but if you have enough imagination you might just hear your favorite Teddy bear telling his secrets.

  3. Yes, teddy bears really are great companions. It's easy to see how some collectors are as devoted to them as I am to magnets!