Teddy Bear mania had swept the world within a few years ...
President Roosevelt adopted the bear cub as his mascot for a successful re-election campaign in 1904. Because of the bear’s popularity, Roosevelt and the Republican Party adopted it as their symbol in the election and Michtom bears were placed on display at every public White House function.
President William Taft had a rival toy “Billy Possum” made which was intended to rival the amazing popularity of Teddy’s Bear, Steiff redesigned their bears to create a more appealing face which was to influence all other Teddy Bears for the next fifty years.
While American firms mainly supplied their home market, the German firms at first Steiff, and later competitors such as Bing, Hermann and Shuco, exported bears across Europe. Only after the First World War did the Teddy Bear industries of other countries start to make a mark.
Although some Teddy Bear toys had been made in Britain from around 1910, large-scale bear manufacture only began around 1915. Among the first firms involved were J.K. Farnell, The Deans Rag Book Company and H.G. Stone & Co (who sold under the tradename 'Chiltern Toys')
English bears tended to be softer in look and feel than their German cousins, and were a major influence throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Farnell bears are generally acknowledged to be the English equivalent of Steiff, but many other companies, including Deans, Chiltern, Chad Valley Co. and Merrythought (founded in 1930) made beautiful Teddies.
The United States was relatively untouched by the war and its teddy bear industry continued to grow.
The Knickerbocker Toy Company got its start in 1920 and continues to make teddy bears today. Nine years later in 1929 the US was hit by the Depression and most teddy bear companies were hurt by the downturn in the market. After 1929 and into the 1930’s, many American companies either found cheaper ways to produce bears or they shut down.