" At every age, in all the sizes, for all the tastes, the cuddly bear is a symbol: it is enough to believe in it so that everything is for best in the best of the worlds. "

Poupendol tries to present you every month a new subject, which - mostly - is the meeting of elements collected to diverse sources.
Yet this time he found an only but very beautiful study, instructive and historic.

In a old Commanderie of the Order of Malta, to SOULTZ (68360 Haut-Rhin),  La NEF des JOUETS ( the NAVE of TOYS), shelters in a common way the collections of Joëlle and Richard HAEUSSER and, several times a year, from temporary exhibition.

The last one of them, since the end of March, 2013, is interested in " The Bear in all her forms " thanks to the loans of well known " Mireille " collector. In this opportunity is published a remarkable study on the cuddly Bears, their origin, the house Steiff, Marcel Pintel, Benjamin Rabier (his bear Martin is almost so known as the " Cow which laughs ")
Materials used through the years etc...
It is this article which we suggest you reading and appreciating.

" When a cuddly bear was loved by a human being, its expression keeps of it the track for ever "

The retrospective in the NEF des Jouets

o stick on the current events of the 15th show bears and dolls but also in the 110th annversary of the cuddly bear, the NEF des Jouets proposes a temporary exhibition on this very popular theme.

For the occasion, cuddly toys of any hairs and any times, went out cardboards of  Mireille, collector - known well.

A convinced arctophile

Of multi-collector (philately, dolls and diverse toys, cartophilie), Mireille became naturally  arctophile " that is " collector of cuddly bear ".
She began to be interested in it in the year 2000. As she likes saying it, " teddy bears, it is my last collection in date ". Among her protégés, it is unmistakably the bears Steiff whom she prefers. She finds them more beautiful and softer than those of the other marks. She moreover acquired numerous and luxurious republications of the famous house German, always in service.
Mireille possesses some specimens dating official debuts of the cuddly bear (from 1903). However, the great majority of her bears were made in the 1930s and until our days. The parts which she presents to the NEF des JOUETS concern not only the cuddly toys but also make reference to very diverse domains which put forward the theme of the bear: postcards, philately, chromos, calendars, automatons, battery-toys … As for toys, the exposed marks also give a good place to the French production. We so find there FADAP, JPM companies, PINTEL,


STEIFF and HERMANN for Germany, also appear in very good place.

Although her collection is already well enriched and rich, it is to bet that Mireille will not stop in so good way and that she will stay on the lookout for new plays.


Favored confidant, companion of soft and docile games, the cuddly bear seems to be a member of the universe of the children from time immemorial. Yet, this toy-friend is hardly hundred-year-old! it made its official appearance in 1903, the date is well known. Where the notices diverge, it is about its creator and on the place of its birth. Because this respectable " grandpère " can claim a double paternity and, following the example of the children, it would have too a dad and a mom.
The cuddly bear would have been born in Germany, homeland of his "mom" in the XIXth century to Giengen-an-der-Brenz, town of a poor region of Germany ( Bade-Wurtemberg), where lived Margarete Steiff, a girl affected by poliomyelitis. Although nailed in an armchair, Margarete refuses to get discouraged by the adversity. She wants to make useful and is going to benefit of the presence of felt factories and of the appearance of the first sewing machine Giengen, to make clothes for children then later balls with pins in the original forms. She so creates a baby elephant who takes away a considerable success. Of useful object, the small elephant doors-pins becomes very fast a playful object. Strong of this experience, Margarete is going to realize other animals-toys in the same spirit.

His family supports her in particular his brother and her five nephews a lot. Among the latter, distinguishes himself Richard, a dreamy stalk. He spends time free in the zoo of Stuttgart, subjugated by the bears whom it does not grow tired of crunchin in his pad. It is him who suggests to Margarete realizing a bear, not felt this time, but long-haired, with the head and the mobile members. The idea is innovative for time and Margarete seizes the project with great panache.
Presented to the Fair of the Spring of Leipzig in 1903, Margarete's bear is nevertheless stayed away by the visitors. Until the last moment of the last day of the fair, when an American Georges Borgfeldt de NewYork, stops in front of the stand and has a real very favorite for " the outcast ", the bear of whom nobody seemed to want He orders 3.000 copies!

It is the beginning of a great epic for the house Stelis the cuddly bear of which becomes the totem, recognizable in the button of metal fixed invariably to the left ear. Today still, the bear Stelis is considered as the most prestigious to the world, the guarantors of quality and innovation.

Opposite in left
Margarete Steif posing with her first mythical bear, Bär 55 PB, cuddly of mohair and eye in buttons of bootees.

We find it on the photo opposite to the right

The cuddly bear would have been born in the United States,
 the homeland of his"dad"

The cuddly bear would have been born in the United States, the homeland of his"dad" another version of the story of our expensive plantigrade of any hairs, we put back on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in Theodore Roosevelt's homeland. It is him who would involuntarily have given rise to the first cuddly bear.

The end of 1902, he goes in the South to solve a problem of borders between Louisiana and the Mississippi, while devoting to his favorite activity: the hunting to the bear. Alas the president always returns empty-handed of his expeditions(. His hosts, worried of saving his reputation of big hunter, bring him one day a bear cub captured and maintained at the end of a rope. Easy trophy, thinks the president, who asks that we release the poor animal, by adding:

If I kill this small bear cub, I can never face my children ".

 Clifford Berryman, a political caricaturist, witnesses the scene and hurries to realize a sketch that he sends to the newspaper Washington Post. The drawing takes away an enormous success.

It does not go unnoticed with a small shopkeeper of Brooklyn, Michton Harris. Russian emigrant, the latter sells in his small shop candies and menus toys realized by his wife. The caricature of Berryman is going to give him an idea of genius. He confides to his
 wife the realization of a cuddly revolutionary cuddly bear, puts it in his shop window, accompanied with the famous drawing.

The orders stream, overtaking all the expectations of the couple. Richton Harris does not miss to send a specimen to the president and requests him to give his name to the hairy creature which he has just invented. So is born, in 1903, Teddy Bear (Teddy being Theodore's diminutive).

Harris, become rich and famous, sells his prototype to " Ideal Toy Corporation " who remains even today one of the biggest firms of toys in the USA.

And you, friend reader, what of both versions do you prefer? That it was created in Germany or in the United States, or even somewhere else, the idea of the cuddly bear had to be " the air " at this beginning of the XXth century, in full golden age of the toy. It was just necessary to it to find an artist, having kept his child's soul, to be embodied in a long-lasting way and take the first place in the heart of the children.

«" Even if your cuddly bear is torn, its love will not escape "
  Eve Frances Gigliotti

And the teddy bear in France ?

At the end of the 19th century, we attribute at home Martin a mechanical bear (being able to get up on its legs) and covered with real fur. Also, the Roulet and Decamps Firm were famous in this time, bears drinkers, jumpers, tippers, players of cymbals …
The cuddly bear was put on sale for the first time in France in 1906 (Department stores of the Louvre in Paris); it was a German toy. During theFirst World War, Germany imports no more toys in Europe.

 Others emerging country then in this market, in particular France. Between 1909 and 1911, the industry of the filled cloth toy and cuddly toy is shyly born with Marcel Pintel and Jacques Émile Lang (French Factory of cloth Toys)

It is with his " bear clown tipper ", endowed with a mécanismeque Marcel Pintel made famous in 1911. Pintel was the first industrial manufacturer of bear toys. The first specimens in mohair take out of his workshops date de1920 (button sewn to the breast). However, the house Thiennot, in the Aube, which had moreover formed Marcel Pintel, seems to have realized the first cuddly bear in 1919, is one year earlier.

Workshops and manufacturers of cuddly toy multiplied during the golden age of the French cuddly toys between 1930 and 1970. Samy Odin (director of the Museum of the Doll in Paris) listed not less than 130 ! The bear Martin, imagined by the illustrator Benjamin Rabier, is the cousin of the Teddy Bear. The French production distinguishes itself by a conception more artistic and more pushed by the cuddly bear, who also takes more good-humoured looks …

Some celebrous marks

- France : Pintel, FADAP, Martin, Marjo, Emile Lang, Blanchet, Emile
Thiennot, Alfa-Paris

- Germany : Steiff, Bing, Hermann, Gebrüder Sussenguth, Schuco

- England : Chad Valley, Merrythought, Farnell, Dean’s, Chiltern,
Pedigree Soft Toys Ltd

- States : Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., Gund

- Australia: Joy Toys

The first cuddly bears are often realized in mohair (fur pulled(fired) by some angora wools angora), then in rayon (artificial silk) which appears in the years one, and confers them brilliant reflections. In this period, the velvet, the flannelette are very present also. In 1954, the French Bubblegum company throws(launches) a revolutionary bear by using the latex (more supple(flexible), softer) for the filling whereas the nylon replaces the cuddly cover in the 1960s. From 1970s, we are interested in the security aspect of the toy. The cuddly bear passes by this compulsory stage; we grant(tune) a particular care to the fixation(binding) of eyes for example. To after 1980s, the cuddly, more and more plump bear, is realized with more and more whim. In their appearance, the cuddly bears are filled with straw of wood, sawdust and later kapok ( vegetable material(subject)), then latex ( 1954 ), foam synthetic... Later even and until our days, the filling was replaced by synthetic shavings, then by absorbent cotton in polyester.

Eyes are at first in buttons of bootees, then glass from 1910, in pant buttons, porcelain painted and finally plastic.
 The truffle and the mouth are embroidered or sewn at first. The articulations, at first in thread, are realized thanks to metallic bars then to cardboard or wooden disks maintained by pins. The process invented by Richard Steiff in 1905 (joints in metallic disks) will remain almost unchanged until our days

Complementary notes

The first cuddly toys would date in West of the last quarter of the XIXth century.

Made in fur of sheep, rabbit or mohair, they reproduced faithfully cats, dogs, horses, monkeys, elephants, lions … But no animal will have the incredible success of the bear.

An old) custom, seeming to go back up to the Antique, encouraged the parents to perch their astride children on a bear so that never they knows the fear …

It is in the nineteenth century when the bear aroused the interest of the young generations. Itinerant  entertainments showed alive and learned bears executing training acts and it is true mainly, in cities and villages from the east of France and in the Ariège.
The bear leaders fascinated  children and adults and supplied the theme of plentiful one imaging, through the postcard and the poster.

At the same time, objects just like the plantigrade appeared: the " bear of Bern " wooden sculptured and painted, the " bear of Copenhagen " in earthenware who represented the Scandinavian polar bears of the legends, the "Onain" of France with the famous jugs "bear".

Bibliography et  photographic crédits

- L’ours dans tous ses états, Geneviève et Gérard PICOT, Editions du Chêne, 1987

- Histoire des Jeux et Jouets de notre enfance, Sylvie ABOU-Tabart, Editions du May, 2008

- Das Tor zur Kindheit – Die Welt der Margarete Steiff – Wolfgang HEGER,
Editions Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2009

- Ours en peluche – L’oeil du chineur – Judith MULLER, Editions Gründ, 2010

- Boules de poils – Le meilleur de la peluche française 1876-2006 ; Samy ODIN  ( Musée de la Poupée-Paris, 2006 )
- Les Ours, Sue PEARSON – Editions Gründ, 1995
- Guide du collectionneur de nounours, Peter FORD, Edition MLP, 1999

- Les merveilleux ours en peluche, Pauline COCKRILL, Editions Prestige Solar,1992

- Les ours en peluche – Le guide du collectionneur pour choisir, acheter
 et restaurer les ours en peluche, Margaret et Gerry GREY, Editions Celiv, 1994

R E T U R N 

Any reproduction rights (text and photos) even partial,
rigorously reserved
for La Nef des Jouets Soultz Haut-Rhin