First Teddy Bear Goes On Sale 111 Years Ago Today, Feb. 15, 1903


A grouping of Teddy bears at our home, including one with spectacles, a book, and a nightlight.  The large bear wears my Dad’s hat. The fire marshal is seated on the far left, being camera shy.


Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom placed two stuffed bears in his shop window on February 15, 1903, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy.  The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution.

It is rather ironic that the inspiration of the Teddy bear came as a result of Theodore Roosevelt given his hunting expeditions that might be better termed pure slaughters. Legend has it that TR came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree.   Why it was tied to a tree is just horrible in and of itself.  While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.

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