The Mystery of America’s Teddy Bear
The Untold Story of the Teddy Bear – solves a mystery in the history of the Teddy Bear. When the Steiff Company of Giengen, Germany created what we know as the classic Teddy Bear in the fall of 1902, the first to be made of mohair with movable arms and legs, no one would buy it. After being presented to toy buyers in the United States and Europe, no one was interested, partly due to its cost, size, and weight.
Then along came a toy buyer, in the spring of 1903, who saw it on display at the Leipzig Spring Fair in Germany and bought 3,000. According to the Steiff Company, they have no document that reveals the buyer’s name. The only record they have is the amount of the sale, though they know he was an American representing an American company.
Having financial troubles at the time, Margarete’s small shop of handmade toys was about to be taken over by its creditors, so it was this sale of the little bears that saved the company. Not having that many toy bears on hand to fill such a huge order, however, many townspeople were enlisted to help so that the shipment would arrive at its destination in time for Christmas.
As revealed in The Untold Story of the Teddy Bear, the first true history of the Teddy Bear, the author’s grandfather was the American buyer, representing Carson Pirie Scott & Co. of Chicago, who placed that first large order of Steiff’s new toy bear and gave it the name “Teddy,” now referred to as the “Teddy” bear.
The author tells the dramatic story of her grandfather’s life and the difficulties he had to overcome, before becoming a successful international buyer, and the remarkable story of Margarete Steiff, founder of her little company of handmade toys. The text also documents the history of the now famous toy bear, in advertisements and editorials, from the time it arrived in the United States in 1903 to its sudden rise in popularity by 1907.
Included is the story of the revival of handmade Teddy Bears after World War II, with colorful photographs that illustrate the work of today’s talented, award-winning artists.With this book, the author ties together the people, dramatic events, and circumstances that resulted in the establishment of the world’s most beloved toy and what these endearing bears have come to mean to children and adults all over the world.
Patricia Thorne – Author Biography
I grew up in the small town of Riverside in northern Illinois, and graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio with a BFA. As a writer, photographer, and graphic artist, I began my business career in advertising in Chicago in 1952. It was there that I met my husband, William Woolway, an art director and exhibiting artist.
After our marriage I left advertising for a position as assistant editor and art editor for the American Library Association’s trade publication. Several years later, however,my husband created his own advertising business and needed my assistance as bookkeeper, and photographer.
It was work I enjoyed until two children came along requiring more of my time. We lived in the Chicago area until 1975, when our love of the West and the mountains drew us to Sun Valley, Idaho, where we eventually established our home. Although my husband has since passed away, I continued to live there until 2017, when I returned to the Midwest where I now live.
Since I was the youngest in my family, I didn’t know many of my relatives, most of whom passed away before I was born. The exception was my grandfather, Albion Parris Thorne, who came to live with us when I was very young. My book is a tribute to this kind and gentle man, who in spite of a personal handicap and great difficulties in his life, achieved success as an international buyer of toys.
He was the first buyer to see potential in, and purchase, the original toy bear created by the Steiff Company of Germany, and the one who named it Teddy, now know as the “Teddy” bear.
Follow me on Twitter at: Patricia Thorne@Teddybearpatch.