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Teddy Bear History > Teddy Bear People...

Morris & Rose Michtom

Margarete Steiff

Wendy Boston

Janet Changfoot

Iris & Ches Chesney

In these pages we have a brief look at some of the people who have had an effect on or who have even changed the world of Teddy Bear making and collecting

 

 

Morris & Rose Michtom

United States

morris_michtomMorris Michtom was selling candy and penny items in his shop in Brooklyn by day and making stuffed animals with his wife Rose by night.

The Teddy Bear appeared on February 15th 1903 in response to a cartoon following US President Teddy Roosevelts refusal to kill a captive bear on a hunting trip in November 1902.

After the creation, the sale of the ‘Teddys Bear’ was so brisk that Michtom created the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in 1907, later changed to the Ideal Toy Company


Margarete Steiff

Germany


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Margarete SteiffMargarete Steiff was born in Giengen, Germany in 1847 and was wheelchair bound because of polio in her childhood. In 1877, she started a mail order business making felt clothing and felt animals.  With her brother Fritz, she formed the Felt Toy Company in 1893 and by 1897, she was employing 40 people. Richard Steiff, her nephew, joined the business as a designer in 1897 and by 1904 their bears had been awarded gold medals at the World Fair in St Louis USA.  In 1906, the business was renamed Margarete Steiff GmbH and by now, employed some 400 people with another 1800 homeworkers. In 1907, it is reported that Steiff made some 975,000 bears, a record, it is believed, that has not been equalled since.

Wendy Boston

Great Britain

 

Wendy Boston Bear from about 1964Ken and Wendy Williams (nee Boston) started their soft toy business in south Wales just after WWII and moved to Crickhowell and Abergavenny in 1948. As Wendy Boston (Crickhowell) Limited, they invented the screw locked plastic eye and in 1954, they introduced the first “washable” teddy bear. This event revolutionised the soft toy industry.

By 1964, now called Wendy Boston Playsafe Toys Limited, they were producing about a quarter of the UKs soft toy exports. In 1968, they were taken over by Denys Fisher Toys.

During the 1960s, Wendy Boston Playsafe Limited made this (pictured left) unjointed, granulated foam rubber filled bear in a honey coloured nylon plush material. The bears came in sizes ranging from 9 inch to 72 inches (23 cm to 1.83m) and the fur colour was mostly brown, gold, honey and white soft nylon plush. The factory closed in 1976.

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Iris & Ches Chesney - HM Bears

Great Britain

 

Iris & Ches Chesney - HM BearsIris and Ches Chesney started bearmaking over 30 years ago from their base in Carnforth in Lancashire and had some success from the very beginning. Unlike most artist bears, the ones made by Iris and Ches are usually open editions but they rarely make a large number of any bear.

They both love old bears and this is reflected in their work. Iris and Ches attend many shows and bear fairs in the UK each year and are also happy to pass on some of their secrets in their bear making classes.

Their introduction of the “My Old Bear Collection” which is based on early British, American and German designs from the first half of the last century, replicates not only the design but also the essence of the original bears. Each bear in the collection has that unique feel and look of the old teddies - at much more affordable prices! Iris and Ches are also great characters, both with a lovely sense of humour, as their cartoon cards and designs show.

HM Bears can be said to be among the forerunners of the Bear Artists that we see today.

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Janet Changfoot

South Africa

 

Janet Changfoot’s bears are instantly recognisable with their distinctive airbrushed detail, mainly South African teddy bear maker Janet Changfootaround the eyes and nose. Born in South Africa and now living in East London, she has rapidly gained an international reputation and exhibits her much sought after bears all over the world.

Janet was the 2000 British Bear Artist Award (BBAA) winner and is one of the growing number of talented bear artists of this new millennium who have, literally, changed the face of teddy bear making through their great talent and their wonderful craftsmanship

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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