Good morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy The Sunday Subject. This week’s subject is Teddy Bears.
My first teddy was actually a rabbit, called Bun. I still have it, of course, and when I went to photograph it I was a little disgusted at how dirty it is! Might have to pop it in the wash… We believe it was from Mothercare and I think it originally had a ribbon to hang it from a pram or some such. Bun was always a favourite and fairly well cared for, except the the time I thought it needed a belly ring so used an earring to give my rabbit some bling.
I always assumed that teddy bears had existed since the dawn of time, that cave dwelling children were handed animal skins shaped like little rabbits and bears. So I was surprised to learn that – where as I’m sure some incarnation of soft toys and comforters existed before the official teddys – teddy bears as we know them now have only been “a thing” since around 1902 and we can thank President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt for the adorable name. He gained the nickname when, on a hunting trip, he refused to shoot a bear that had been captured and tied up, claiming it was unsporstmanly. Morris Michtom, inspired by a cartoon by Clifford K. Berryman of Roosevelt sparing a little bear cub, made a bear and sent it to the president. Within 5 years of this first ‘Teddy’s Bear’ being created Michtom started a toy company which later become the largest doll-making company in the US.