Historical Teddy Bears

  • How the Teddy Bear Got Its Name

    We all love our favorite teddy bear, but why exactly do we call them ‘teddy bears’? And why did people start making them in the first place? Turns out, it’s all thanks to a certain U.S. President and a hunting trip gone wrong.

    Theodore Roosevelt’s Hunting Trip

    On November 14, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, went on a bear hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi. The trip didn’t go well. The group of hunters had spent three days in the wilderness tracking bears, only to come up empty. Finally, on the fourth day, Roosevelt’s hunting guide, Holt Collier, managed to track down an old, tired bear. Tying it to a tree, he went back to the President and encouraged him to shoot it. Finding this very unsportsmanlike, Roosevelt refused, and went home empty handed.

    A Political Cartoon and a Candy Shop

    News spread about the incident, prompting Clifford Berryman, a political cartoonist, to draw a cartoon satirizing Roosevelt in the Washington Post. Two candy shop owners, Morris and Rose Michtom, saw the cartoon and had an idea. Rose had been making and selling stuffed toys in their shop for years, but she had never made a stuffed bear. The cartoon inspired her, so Rose made two stuffed bears and put them in the store window. Morris even asked for Roosevelt’s permission to call them “teddy bears,” since the President was often called “Teddy” by friends. Roosevelt loved the idea, as did the public, and they became an instant hit.

    Over a hundred years later, teddy bears have become a staple of American culture, and no child should be without one. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of stuffable teddy bears to choose from, so take a look!

  • Check Out The Den of Marbletown Teddy Bear Museum

    Along the Hudson Valley sits an old, Victorian farmhouse filled with thousands of teddy bears. Turns out, it’s a museum dedicated to teddy bears and other childhood toys.

    From Victorian Farmhouse to Teddy Bear Museum

    The Den of Marbletown has transformed a Victorian farmhouse from the 1860’s into a unique tourist attraction. It houses over 5,000 Steiff teddy bears along with other staple childhood toys.  A historical house filled with old toys might sound a bit creepy, but luckily, owners Steve and Nan Ferri have done these fluffy friends justice.  Their museum is interactive, welcoming, and fun. Birthday parties, school field trips, and young families all enjoy the space to play, explore, and learn.

    Meals Fit for Papa Bear

    Papa Bear’s Kitchen and Mama Bear’s Lounge offer healthy and affordable meals that can be enjoyed in communal spaces.  Board games and a magical closet containing classic toys will accompany your meal, and in the summer time, blankets and picnic baskets are available to enjoy around the farm grounds or a soothing stream.

    A Place for Artists and Historians

    The museum itself is always refreshed with rotating collections and classics revived from the famous FAO Schwarz toy store. Local artists present gallery shows within the space, and other museums collaborate with this unique attraction to share their own rare bears.  Recently on load was the “the Holy Grail” of Steiff Collectors: the 1904 Rod Bear which features the first attempt at movable joints on a toy.

    Need a friend to accompany you on your trip to The Den of Marbletown? Look no further than The Zoo Factory. We have plenty of stuffable animals and dolls who will just love a trip to a teddy bear museum!

  • The History of Raikes Bears

    If you’re a fan of teddy bears and their rich history, you’ve probably heard of the Raikes Bear. This is one of the most historical teddy bears of all times, especially known for the unique features it possesses.

    Raikes Bears are well-known for their carved, wooden faces. While they were extremely popular many years ago, they are now pretty hard to come by.

    Robert Raikes who was the creator of the Raikes Bear was well-traveled according to ThoughtCo. Raikes was born in California and lived all over the United States. He also lived in England, and after joining the military, lived in various parts of Southeast Asia.

    Raikes had a passion for carving, which resulted in the famous Raikes Bear. His earliest carvings consisted of wooden sculptures that ranged from furniture to carousel horses. In the 1970s, Raikes was asked to produce dolls. As a result, the first version of the Raikes Bears, which had a carved wooden face and cloth bodies filled with sawdust, hit the market.

    In the next few years, Raikes perfected his aesthetic and his teddy bears started to become very popular. In the 1980s, Raikes created the first Raikes Bear that most people are familiar with now.

    After selling the bears for several years, Raikes sold the licensing rights to a company called Applause. After a couple of successful years, Raikes reclaimed the rights to the unique bears, hoping to perfect them and bring a limited number to the market. With that, their value increased immensely because only a few bears were available at one time and they were being crafted by Raikes himself.

    Raikes Bears are now available in second hand shops and specialty gift stores, but they certainly come at cost. If you have one of the originals, it could now be worth hundreds.

    The Zoo Factory has dozens of fun, soft animals to choose from, your child can pick out his or her new favorite friend and toy.

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