Few toys are more endearing than soft, cuddly teddy bears. An intrinsic part of most people’s growing years, teddy bears are synonymous with precious childhood memories, warmth and a sense of comfort. It is therefore not surprising that many of us have carefully preserved our favorite bear(s) and hold it quite closely to our heart!
Story behind the Teddy Bear
As a toy, teddy bears were manufactured in the early 20th century and the first ones were made just like real life cubs. Since then, teddy bears have evolved in terms of design, form and finish and still remain arguably one of the most popular toys for children. Teddies are also gifted to adults as a symbol of affection and love.
But did you know that the name ‘teddy’ bear has a connection with US President Theodore Roosevelt? It was in 1902 that the President was invited on a bear hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi during which he could not locate a single bear unlike his fellow hunters. One of his assistants, caught a bear and tied it to a tree and asked Roosevelt to shoot it. The latter however refused given that it would be highly unsportsmanlike.
The news of this story spread across the country and it appeared in newspapers and cartoons. Morris Michtom who owned a candy shop in New York saw this cartoon. His wife Rose who made stuffed animals decided to create a stuffed toy bear and called it Teddy Bear in honor of the President who refused to shoot the animal. Morris Michtom started making them on a large scale after obtaining permission to use the name and soon founded the Ideal Toy Company.
Teddy Bear Day
Since then, teddies have been manufactured by several companies and have remained an all time favorite with children and even adults alike. There have been several famous teddy bear characters like Winnie the Pooh and Paddington that have immortalized the spirit of this cuddly animal. As an ode to this coveted toy, which is a quintessential symbol of friendship and dependability, Teddy Bear Day is celebrated each year on 09-September. And if you are a lover of teddy bears, an ideal way of celebrating this day is to visit the incredibly attractive Teddy Bear Museum in Baden, Switzerland.
Located in the picturesque town of Baden which is also known for its thermal baths, the Teddy Bear Museum is situated within a quaint house in Upper Halde and is spread over three floors. It is located just about half an hour from Zurich and is a must visit if you are a fan of teddy bears and toys. The museum is the brain child of teddy bear mum Maria Kaufmann who is passionate about collecting teddy bears. The museum has over 1000 bears arranged according to different themes. It displays the bears in real life situations and shows teddy bears attending school, going to a picnic, doing the laundry, attending a wedding and the like. Each display unit is impeccably planned with tremendous attention to detail.
There is a small section on the traditional Swiss wooden, handmade toys as well. Some of the bears are over a hundred years old and have shoe buttons sewed for their eyes. It is interesting to note that it was only from 1908 that handmade glass eyes were crafted for teddy bears. The bears in the museum are from multiple toy companies and brands like Steiff, Hermann, Schuco, Bing Brothers, Petz, Ideal and Mutzli.
Real life scenes
The museum brings myriad everyday scenes to life with the bears enjoying a ride in the snow, visiting a zoo and even crystal gazing! Teddies arranged in a beautiful stage coach replete with boxes and suitcases bring a travel scene to life while a scene created in the waiting room at the doctor’s shows the birth of a little pink bear! A school of the yesteryears has been beautifully recreated with a big bear writing with pen and ink and smaller teddies learning the alphabets. Mother teddy baking cakes and cookies is one of the most adorable displays with yesteryear cookie cutters, utensils and baking equipment on display. A kindergarten scene has been recreated impeccably with little teddies, play toys and books. Teddies doing the laundry and sewing clothes transports you back in time with its vintage artefacts. With scenes from the circus, lantern parade and even a local fair reimagined, the museum exudes happy vibes and is an ideal place to visit with family and friends. While the children are sure to enjoy the fairy tale-like ambience, it is also a perfect excuse for adults to indulge the inner child in them!
All images courtesy of Rashmi Gopal Rao