Bear Museum Petersfield

The Teddy Bear is now so much part of our lives that it's hard to believe he was only invented in 1902, and is named after Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt, the famous hunting President of the USA. For years, the claim to have made the first Teddy Bear has been disputed between America and Germany - and in some ways, both countries made the first Teddy!

The story begins in Germany, in late October 1902, where Richard Steiff, a toy designer working for the family firm in Giengen, went to a touring American circus in search of an idea for a popular new toy. Among the animals he saw there was a troupe of performing bears, and they sparked off the original idea. The following day, he put his thoughts down on paper for Margarete Steiff, his aunt, who had founded the firm in 1880.

Richard saw an oportunity to make a bear toy, standing upright, and jointed in a similar way to dolls. There had been bear toys before, of course - often made from real fur! - but these had all been copies of real bears on all fours. Richard's bear would be able to walk upright. Margarete Steiff liked the idea, and Richard set to work on visiting zoos to sketch the bears and come up with some proper designs.

Meanwhile, several thousand miles away, the other half of the Teddy Bear story was about to begin. President Roosevelt, visiting Mississippi to settle a border dispute, decided to go out hunting for the day. After several hours, he still hadn't bagged anything, when one of his aides discovered a lost bear cub wandering through the woods. Catching it, he tied it to a tree, and brought the President to it - here was his trophy for the day!



[Hampshire Attractions]