The Teddy Bear and the Sock Monkey…Friends for over 100 Years!
The teddy bear and sock monkey have been with us for over 100 years, untouched and unchanged over time. They survived the great depression, world wars, watched man walk on the moon and observed unbelievable advancements in technology. And one can most likely be assured that the sock monkey and teddy bear will go on for another 100 years, completely unaltered by the ever changing world that surrounds us.
So what makes these loveable and whimsical characters so resilient to an ever changing world? Maybe the secret is just simply their lovability and ability to touch our hearts from our earliest of years
as infants throughout our years as adults. Or maybe the secret is about their origins and being born from acts of love and kindness.
A bit of history…
The sock monkey was created by Moms in the early 1900s during a time when most made do with what they had in order to raise a family, when keeping food on the table and a warm roof overhead was the priority. It was a time when “toys” were most often the most simplest of items and usually hand made by a parent or grandparent. Old knit socks and a little imagination created the Sock Monkey, a playtime friend that was certain to share endless hours of storytelling, willing and able to go on great adventures and always at the bedside providing comfort and joy…night or day.
The Nelson Knitting company, creator of the infamous red heeled knit socks from the late 1800s saw what Mothers where doing with their famous footwear and started including sock monkey patterns with its successful sock line in the 1920’s. The sock monkey has been with us ever since.
The teddy bear was also born in the early 1900s. Brooklyn store owners Morris and Rose Michtom were deeply inspired by a political cartoon of president Teddy Roosevelt refusing to shoot a black bear cub tied to a tree in November 1902. The Michtom’s, who made candy for the store during the day and stuffed animals at night, drew inspiration from Teddy’s act of kindness. The entrepreneurial couple made and displayed in their storefront window their new creation and called it “Teddy’s Bear”…and as they say the rest is history. The sale of the bears was so brisk that Michtom created the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company .
Meanwhile another company also brought to life a fully jointed stuffed bear from across the ocean in Germany. Richard Steiff was working for his aunt, Margarete Steiff, in her stuffed toy business which began in the late 1800s. Richard, a former art student, often visited the Stuttgart Zoo to sketch animals, particularly the bear cubs. In 1902, the same year the Michtoms made “Teddy’s Bear,” the Steiff company made a prototype of a toy bear based on Richard’s bear designs and started production. The Steiff company became widely known for their jointed bear designs and continues the teddy bear making tradition today in Giengen an der Brenz, Germany.
The Teddy Bear quickly became a favorite companion to children of all ages. One can only imagine the hours spent in a world of adventure and imagination by children in the early 1900s with their favorite teddy bear and sock monkey, becoming best friends who shared the most secret of secrets, traveled on great imaginary adventures and dreamed the nights away.
This piece not only celebrates how powerful a simple hug can be in our day to day life but also the celebration of two true friends that that have been by our sides for over a century. They’re proof that the things we love the most are often the most simple and are with us no matter what…just like a good friend.
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