Collecting teddy bears has become a widely popular hobby, both for their intrinsic appeal and as an investment. Though prices have stabilised in the past years, for the most collectable bears, they can still be worth in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Bears were a popular subject during the 1870s and 1880s in the toy making industry. German wooden toys from the Black Forest were often bears, in various forms. Production of soft toy bears began in the 1890s, though they were realistic-looking, and were not cute!
Margarete Steiff has become the most well-known of these German manufacturers. Having suffered with polio since childhood, she made toys as a source of income, using felt for some of her first ranges, which were usually various animals. Her first soft bear was made in 1902. In 1903 a US buyer named Hermann Berg ordered 3000 of these at the Leipzig Toy Fair, to be sold on the American market.
The same year, a store owner in Brooklyn, USA, named Morris Michtom, was influenced by cartoons of the then President, Teddy Roosevelt, which illustrated how he refused to kill a bear cub on a bear hunt. Morris then also produced a soft toy bear. he subsequently named it 'Teddy', which became a popular name due to the popularity of the President.
The success of the Steiff company, and its ranges of teddy bears and toys, rose exponentially in the following years.
Thus, the teddy was born in Germany, and soon after was named 'Teddy' in the USA.