The direct origin of animals stuffed is at the end of the 19th century, but its ancestors were already present for several millennia. The production and use of wooden toys began in ancient Egypt, and the production and use of similar toys has a long history.
FROM WOODEN TOYS TO CLOTH DOLLS
The history of stuffed animals and dolls began with the production of toys made from clay, wood, ivory and other materials. The first wooden dolls that were found in Egypt date back to the 21st century BC.
Historically, the most direct ancestor of the stuffed animal was the rag doll. The oldest known dates from the 1st to the 5th century. This rag doll, made of linen stuffed with rags and papyrus and decorated with colored wool, was found by the Egypt Exploration Fund at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. The doll is now kept in the British Museum.
Over time, rag dolls have become popular among all social classes. When full-color fabric printing was developed around 1830, mass production of soft and colorful dolls became possible. They were used as comfort items, but also as educational tools: rag dolls helped young children to develop their educational skills and gave them the opportunity to learn to work by hand. By repairing the dolls themselves, making simple variations and producing clothes for them, children learned to sew.
THE ORIGIN OF THE PLUSH BEAR
So who invented the stuffed animal? The teddy bear appeared simultaneously in Germany and the United States in 1902. It all started in 1880, Margarete Steiff created the first stuffed animal from her home in Germany: an elephant-shaped pin cushion .
Margarete's nephew, Richard Steiff, joined her aunt's company in 1897 and designed a toy that would take over the world in 1902: the (teddy) bear. Around the same time, Russian immigrant Morris Michtom, living in the United States, came up with a similar design. Michtom based his teddy bear design on a caricature of interim president Theodore Roosevelt.
HOW DID THE TEDDY BEAR RECEIVE ITS NAME?
In 1902, the Washington Post published a political cartoon drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman entitled "Drawing the line in Mississippi".
The cartoon showed President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt showing compassion for the cute little bear cub during a hunt. Roosevelt was an avid bear hunter, but refused to shoot a helpless bear while hunting in Mississippi in November 1902.
The story goes that a group of Roosevelt hunters, led by Holt Collier, captured a large American black bear and tied it to a tree after a grueling chase. Suggesting that the president should be the one to slaughter the animal, Roosevelt refused, considering it unsportsmanlike.
Berryman's cartoon transformed the weakened grizzly into an adorable bear cub, which gave inventor Morris Michtom the inspiration to create the first teddy bear. After sending a bear to the president, he was given permission to use the president's nickname "teddy" for the toy.
FROM BEAR TO PANDA
The teddy bears developed by Steiff and Michtom were an immediate success. Over time, the realistic characteristics of the original bears have been softened to make way for a more baby appearance, which has reinforced the "cute" look of the toys. Due to the success of bears, new models of stuffed animals were produced from other species like pandas, whales, owls, rabbits, etc.
Today, plush toys are produced everywhere, they are a staple in zoos, a must have for children, and a fun and enjoyable experience for people of all ages. It's also one of the best-selling toys, and it's popular with everyone from babies to adults, and for good reason. Even if by chance you've never owned a stuffed animal, it's hard not to love them.