In December 2015, Davidd told us the tale of The Great Teddy Bear Shipwreck Mystery. The story goes that back in 1903 some three-thousand teddy bears were sent by ship from Steiff’s factory in Germany to America only for them to disappear. The bears were made and packed up for shipment, but there is no record of them ever reaching their destination and none of the US-bound bears has ever been found. The templates, patterns and even photos of the bears exist but not even one sample was kept. One popular explanation is that there was a shipwreck and the bears had a watery end. All that is certain is that if just one of these bears turned up today it would be ‘open chequebook’ time for museums and collectors. After all, these were the first teddy bears ever made.
Margarete Steiff was born in Giengen, Germany on 24th July 1847. Margarete was a very lively, well-built child and led a carefree life until she became ill with polio before her second birthday. She was destined never to walk and to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Her mother, above all, found this very difficult. She would have to care for her daughter for as long as she lived. Her daughter would never be able to take on the role of housewife and mother and, at the time, it seemed as though she had absolutely no prospects for the future.
While we were researching and writing last month’s post about Richard Steiff, we came across a mystery which has still not been resolved to this day. Back in 1903, some 3,000 teddy bears were sent by ship from Steiff’s factory in Germany to America only for them to disappear. Some claim the bears were the first ever made and would now be the most valuable teddy bears in the world. So just what happened to these bears?
We have been asked a number of times during the nine year history of Jammy Toast, who invented the teddy bear? The short answer to this question is that Germany and America both hotly contest the title of “Inventor of the Teddy Bear”. Indeed, Steiff and the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company can both lay claims to having designed teddy bears as early as 1902. Did both sides suddenly invent a teddy bear at exactly the same moment or did one side copy the other? Here is what we said in 2010…