Crazy for Bears

Introduced as a toy nearly a century ago, the ever popular teddy bear has become a prized collectible the world over

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

For nearly a century, the teddy bear has been a part of our culture and our lives. After a political cartoonist depicted President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot an adorable cub, teddy manufacturers mushroomed and the bears became a national obsession. Today they're more popular than ever, and adults seem to want them as much as their kids do.

Vintage teddies command prices well into six figures at auction houses. Collectors travel the world to attend bear shows and sales. Museums dedicated to teddy bears are popping up in Japan and Korea, and teddy bears are being used in hospice care and nursing homes. What gives? Perhaps in a world of genetic engineering, school shootings and road rage, the comfort of a soft bear tucked in your lap or gazing from your bookshelf is more necessary than ever.

About Wendy Mitman Clarke
Wendy Mitman Clarke

Wendy Mitman Clarke is director of media relations for Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland and a lifelong sailor obsessed with the ocean and all the wonder and weirdness that lives within it. Besides Smithsonian, her non-fiction stories have appeared in Preservation, and Chesapeake Bay Magazine. She's also a published poet.

Read more from this author

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus