Teddy bears are increasingly popular as personalised gifts. A uniquely special way to deliver a special message to someone, personalised teddy bears are today sold complete with hoodies printed or embroidered with your own words, with a range of cute accessories to add that extra “aah” factor.
Personalised teddy bears aren’t limited to christenings and children’s birthdays. You can today buy personalised teddy bears for everything from a new job to first day of school. For those who insist on taking their favourite plush toys everywhere with them, there are even “going on holiday” outfits, complete with arm bands, flip flops and beach towels! Arm bands? Yes, because for a small fee there are holiday firms who will actually send your teddy abroad for real. You get postcards, photos and even a stamped passport to prove where he’s been.
Transatlantic teddies are nothing new, however. Back in 1919, Alcock and Brown made the world’s first non-stop transatlantic flight accompanied by – you’ve guessed it – two teddy bears. Despite a few hairy episodes both they and the bears made a safe and triumphant return, albeit disguised as a crash landing.
Personalised gifts are often created in limited editions to mark important international events, such as the 2012 London Olympics. Sadly, 2012 also marks a sadder occasion – the sinking of the Titanic, in which teddy bears played a prominent part. Following the news of the sinking, Steiff produced black mohair “mourning bears” with a growler and black boot-button eyes, and red felt discs behind to simulate crying. Extremely rare today, they sell for tens of thousands of pounds at auction. However, Steiff has also released a commemorative copy; a limited edition of 1912 bears.
In 1912, teddy bears were largely a plaything for the children of the upper classes, even being sold in the ship’s barber shop. While the majority of first and second class children on the Titanic were rescued, their soft toys were less lucky. One seven-year old recounted how she and her playmates would drag her enormous teddy bear – purchased as a Christmas gift from Gamage’s – around the ship, though sadly it didn’t make it into the lifeboat with them. A happier tale is that of Polar, a Steiff teddy bear who travelled on the ship with his master, 7-year old Douglas Spedden. The only child of Daisy and Frederic Spedden, he and his teddy were safely lowered into a life boat and made it home. Daisy later wrote the award-winning book, “Polar the Titanic Bear”. Along with two mourning Bears, Steiff have created a commemorative replica of Polar, dressed in a cute sailor suit. The book is still in print.
There is a mystery surrounding Steiff teddy bears that predates the Titanic, however – going right back to when the first Steiff bears were exhibited in Europe. An American buyer, unaware that US firm Michtom was also making teddy bears, ordered a shipment of 3000 55 PB models. However, they were never recorded as arriving in the US, leading to the theory that the hapless cuddly toys were shipwrecked.
Does your bear need a holiday?