[Ads-l] slight antedating of Teddy Bear

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 1 21:09:51 EST 2017


The Michtoms apparently gave the bear to the Roosevelt family in the early 1960s.  It is not the "original" one they are said to have made and sold in late-1902 or the one said to have been originally sent to the Roosevelts at Christmas 1902.

It may be the same bear the Ideal Toy Corporation put on display at toy conventions in the 1940s and 1950s.  That bear was variously described as the "first teddy bear" or "one of the original" teddy bears, which could mean one from an early production cycle.  In some versions of their family story, they claimed to have made and sold several one-off versions before realizing the market potential, sending a bear to the Roosevelts and going into full production.  It's not clear exactly when it was made, although they claim it was 1903.

I'm open to the possibility that the Michtoms made bear in 1903, whether called a Teddy bear or not, but the lack of evidence, the delay in going public with the story, the changing nature of the story, and failure to retain the Roosevelt letter after claiming to have it in their possession in the 1950s, make me skeptical - or at least unconvinced.

The Michtoms were certainly an early American teddy bear manufacturer, but it's not clear how early, or whether they named the bear, or how much influence their naming of the bear had on the name becoming ubiquitous.

There are credible stories from families of at least two toy buyers who claim that their great-grandfather "coined" "Teddy bear" for the stores for which they purchased early Steiff bears.  I believe anyone at the time might have called their bear "Teddy" - as the name was already in use for bears before Roosevelt was President, and before he went on the ill-fated bear hunt that is said to have inspired the use of the name for the toy bears.


From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Friday, December 1, 2017 3:34 PM
Subject: Re: slight antedating of Teddy Bear

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: slight antedating of Teddy Bear

Not an antedating, but:


The Smithsonian has a bear that is supposed to be a Michtom bear from 1903.


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