[Ads-l] slight antedating of Teddy Bear

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 24 02:44:31 EST 2017

Peter: A November 4, 1906 article in "The Sun" of New York credited
"Marguerita Steiff" with conceiving the idea of the "Teddy bear". Your
excellent essay uses a December 20, 1907 citation to connect Steiff to
"teddy bear".

Strictly speaking "The Sun" article is ambiguous because it says "She
conceived the idea of the Teddy bear". That leaves open the
possibility that her firm designed and built the toy, but did not name

I noticed that you clipped the article, so you already know about it,
but perhaps you did not see the passage below, or perhaps you felt you
already had enough citations.

Date: November 04, 1906
Newspaper: The Sun
Newspaper Location: New York, New York
Article: Dolls Are Out, Bears Are In
Quote Page 6, Column 4
Database: Newspapers.com


[Begin excerpt]
It is perhaps fitting that the rival of Miss Dolly, herself largely a
product of Germany when she is of good ancestry, should be a native of
the same country. For fifteen years past Marguerita Steiff has made
stuffed animal toys like the bear her specialty. She conceived the
idea of the Teddy bear, which was put on the market a year ago. All
the past summer the popularity of the bear increased amazingly.
[End excerpt]


On Thu, Nov 23, 2017 at 11:01 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> The syndicated newspaper cartoon series, "The Roosevelt Bears," featuring Teddy G. (a grizzly) and Teddy B. ( a brown bear), debuted in January 1906.  Ads for it appeared in December 1905.  Teddy B. and Teddy G. bears were mass marketed.  The Teddy Bear craze was in full swing by June.  That may have been the biggest pop-culture influence in making it ubiquitous, but it was nit first.
> ________________________________
> From: Dan Goncharoff<mailto:thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: ‎11/‎23/‎2017 19:52
> 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
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> One fact that may (ahem) bear on the story: Abraham and Straus was the
> biggest department store in Brooklyn. In 1906, it promoted a live Teddy
> Bear that accompanied its Santy Claus in Toyland. It also promoted its
> imported bears in four sizes. There is no mention of bears at all in its
> ads in 1905.
> On Nov 23, 2017 5:04 PM, "Peter Reitan" <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> In January 2016, Sam Clements reposted a reference<http://listserv.
>> linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2016-January/140569.html> to what seems
>> to be the earliest known use of "Teddy Bear" in print, from an
>> advertisement in The Syracuse Post-Standard, November 20, 1905.
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2016-January/140569.html
>> I've found the same advertisement in the same paper two days earlier, and
>> a different Syracuse paper six days earlier.
>> =E2=80=9CTeddy=E2=80=9D bears holding little cubs in their arms like real=
>  mothers are the
>> latest arrivals; be sure to see them; see all other things as they come
>> along, but most are already here.
>> Syracuse Herald, November 14, 1905, page 7.
>> I just posted a new piece on the history of "Teddy Bear," the word and th=
> e
>> toy.
>> The standard origin-story credits Rose and Morris Michtom of Brooklyn, wh=
> o
>> saw a political cartoon memorializing a Teddy Roosevelt bear hunt, in whi=
> ch
>> he famously refused to shoot a captured, injured young bear tied up for h=
> is
>> killshot.  The Michtoms made a toy copy of the cartoon bear cub, sent a
>> letter to Roosevelt asking for permission to use his name, it was an
>> "immediate success" and the rest is history.  No contemporary evidence
>> supports their claim, although they were manufacturing Teddy bears by 190=
> 7,
>> and their company grew into the Ideal Toy Company, one of the largest toy
>> companies in the world.
>> Margarete Steiff's company in Germany has contemporary documentation from
>> business records and her diary that places their "invention" of what woul=
> d
>> later be called "Teddy Bear" in 1902, a few months before Roosevelt's bea=
> r
>> hunt.  They received their first large order for the bears from an Americ=
> an
>> buyer at the Leipzig toy fair in about March 1903, a few months after
>> Roosevelt's bear hunt and a couple months after legend has it the Michtom=
> s
>> placed their first "Teddy Bears" on sale.
>> A problem with the Michtoms' story is that the earliest known reference t=
> o
>> "Teddy Bear" in print, with reference to a stuffed, toy bear, is late-190=
> 5,
>> so their teddy bears do not seem to have been the "immediate success" as =
> it
>> is generally characterized.  There was, however, a reference to two kinds
>> of "Teddy's bears" sold at Roosevelt's early 1905 inauguration - one
>> referred to buttons with an image of a bear (perhaps the famous cartoon
>> image) and the other to a mechanical "dancing bear."  The mechanical bear
>> is not described, but there were cast-iron dancing bears as early as 1901=
> ,
>> and there were mechanical bears with faux fur in existence before the
>> famous bear hunt.  Also, several actual bears were named for Roosevelt,
>> even before the famous bear hunt.
>> So it is not clear that the Michtoms' purported decision to call them
>> "Teddy Bears" had any real effect on the ultimate name, or whether they
>> made and named the bear as early as they claim.
>> I've laid out a lot of the evidence, one way or another, in two blog post=
> s:
>> Most recent:
>> Hunting down the Origin of "Teddy Bear"<https://esnpc.blogspot.
>> com/2017/11/margarete-steiff-morris-michtom-and.html>
>> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2017/11/margarete-steiff-
>> morris-michtom-and.html
>> Last year:
>> A Grizzly History and Etymology of "Teddy Bears"<https://esnpc.blogspot.
>> com/2016/02/teddy-roosevelt-and-his-bears-grizzly.html>
>> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2016/02/teddy-roosevelt-and-
>> his-bears-grizzly.html
>> Peter Reitan
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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