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A History Of The Teddy Bear
Gund Bears

Teddy Bear History > Gund Bears

Perhaps the leading soft toy manufacturer in the USA and also the oldest, GUND was founded 107 years ago by the German immigrant to America, Adolph Gund in Norwalk, Connecticut, US, it is thought, in 1898.

Although they did not start producing teddy bears until the early 1900’s, they were one of the first American companies to do so.

When Adolph Gund retired in 1925 with no children of his own, he sold the business to a young Russian immigrant, Jacob Swedlin for a token sum with the understanding the company name would always remain GUND. Jacob Swedlin in turn passed down control of the company to his daughter Rita Raiffe and her husband Herbert Raiffe in 1969.

Herbert Raiffe continued their tradition of producing high quality plush fabric (also known as Mohair) and the company prospered under his leadership. Also, under the direction of Herbert and Rita Raiffe, the company began using its now trademarked under-stuffing technique.

Bruce Raiffe, the third generation to run the company, joined them in 1977 and became President in 1993 and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in July 2004. Also in July 2004, Jim Madonna was appointed President, marking the first time in the Company’s long history that a non-founding family member took the reins.

GUND was responsible for pioneering many innovations, safety standards and manufacturing processes for the toy industry.

Jacob Swedlin introduced the concept of industry licensing with well-known cartoon characters such as Felix™ the Cat, Mickey Mouse™, Donald Duck™, Popeye™ and others. They were also the first American company to produce an affordably priced musical toy.

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The company has always been committed to product safety and they set an important industry standard by devising a way to attach eyes securely to plush fabric animals, preventing them from being pulled out by small children.

The famous GOTTA GETTA GUND advertising campaign in the early 1980’s led to the company’s recognition as a leading consumer brand. Snuffles® the bear and Muttsy® the dog are two of the company’s most famous characters.

Beginning in late 2002, they launched a new consumer ad campaign with two adorable creations, Manni™ and Dreyfus™.

Today, the company manufactures an extensive collection of unique characters and licensed plush under the GUND and babyGUND brands.

The extensive brand comprises major labels including GUND®, babyGUND®, GUND Kids® and the most recently announced babyGUND Nursery® which offers nursery dÚcor products for the infant and the preschool child.

In November 2005, The American Brands Council named them as one of America’s favorite brands and they are among the top fifty most recognized brands in America.

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Alphabetical Listings...
Wendy Boston
John W Bratton
Chad Valley 
Janet Changfoot
Deans Rag Book Company
Grisly Speilwaren 
Gund The American giant 
Hermann, Hermann Speilwaren, Gebruder Hermann, Hermann Teddy Original 
Jimmy Kennedy who wrote the words to the song Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Teddy Bears’ Picnic music by John W Bratton and the lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy

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You might also be interested in...
Where, and how, the Teddy Bear was born
What happened to the Teddy Bear next
Some people who had a major influence on the design of the Teddy Bear
For the fact hounds... A Teddy Bear Timeline
The Lyrics (and music) to the famous song - Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Some interesting facts about picnics, the music, Jimmy Kennedy, John W Bratton...
Teddy Love ... our ongoing love affair with the Teddy Bear

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