16 December 2022

Published December 14, 2022 by rochellewisoff

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Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 100

BEAR 55PB

“What do you think, Tante Margarete?” Richard Steiff held up a stuffed bear. “His arms and legs move. He’s soft and cuddly mohair.”

Richard’s creative aunt who’d been paralyzed by polio as a toddler had against all odds, founded Steiff Manufacturing in 1880. Her felt elephants and other animals were favorites of thousands of German children.

She took the bear in her arms. “He is darling. But will he sell?”

“May I enter him in the Leipzig toy trade fair?”

“Viel Glück.”

Margarete’s question was answered in 1903 when an American trader ordered 3,000 bears and renamed them Teddy Bear.  

*viel glück – good luck in German

Conflicting stories abound when it comes to the Teddy Bear named for President Theodore Roosevelt. This one seems feesible to me. CLICK HERE to learn more about this remarkable woman.

CLICK HERE if you’d like to read the other side of the Teddy Bear’s history. I don’t propose to know which story is true. One thing is for sure and certain and that’s the popularity of the Teddy bear.

66 comments on “16 December 2022

    • Dear Amanda,

      I love it. My middle son had a very special bear he named Melissa. It was one of his first Christmas presents. She had a windup music box inside. She had to have her nose sewn back on a time or two and her eyes are scratched up. The much loved bear now resides with my son’s eldest daughter.
      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Who says both stories can’t be true? The one you linked to says it started in 1902. The one you fictionalized is 1903. Perhaps someone else wanted to cash in on the trend before the original ones could manufacture enough and so bought those 3000 bears in Germany.
    Anyway, a great story. I guess some people who can’t use their body instead use their brain.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t see why both stories couldn’t be true, but I like your version. These days they aren’t as often bears (I think only one or 2 of the 200+ in my house are), but they still bring joy, comfort and companionship when it is most needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Shelley Bear W(T)F,

    A little known fact – they were originally going to call them Russell Bears, but the name was too difficult for small children to pronounce and often came out “Wuthel Bare.” I imagine one would look quite cute dressed as a mime and lounging casually next to your menorah.

    Happy Hanukkah,
    Wuthel

    Liked by 1 person

  • Regardless of the Roosevelt connection, or even her disability, Margarete’s story is impressive. Building a business empire from home is an accomplishment for anyone. Overcoming the painful, restricted use of her right hand to become a successful seamstress, and overcoming being German to be happy and positive, are amazing in themselves.

    Her story reminds me of the Rankin/Bass Santa Claus story. Thank you for sharing another snapshot of history with us, Rochelle. It was fun and educational. I never would have guessed that Gretle was a truncation of Margarete.

    Like

  • I did a talk for the Ladies Group I belonged to entitled The Bear Necessities. Some people thought it was about budget (advertised as Bare Necessities by the secretary) so they were very surprised it was about Teddy Bears. I remember this as part of my research, and Mini the Pooh, the smallest jointed teddy bear in the world. I wish I could find my notes as it would make an interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thank you Rochelle for this delightful story on Teddy bears. Don’t we all need a bear to hug and comfort us at times, when no-one else is around.
    Just finished reading, finally, Andrea Wulz’s biography on Humbolt. The last chapter being the founding of Yosemite National Park by Roosevelt and Muir. Very thorough and well documented book with beautiful engravings and coloured pictures by the scientists themselves and contemporary artists on Humbolt’s, Thoreau’s, Marsh’s and Muir’s works on Nature.
    Wishing you a joyful festive week.

    Liked by 1 person

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