The first Teddy Bear was reportedly made by hand by Rose Michtom en sold by her husband Morris in their novelty- and stationer’s shop in New York. The Michtoms disposed of their whole stock to wholesale traders Butler Brothers, who in turn guaranteed their credit with the plush-manufactures. In 1903 they established Ideal Novelty & Toy Company.
Morris Michtom, the founder of Ideal, died in 1938, but after the 2e World War new opportunities opened up for the company, under his son Benjamin. A period with new designs and materials, a permanent trademark and a new name: Ideal Toy Corporation.
The company got the license for the first Smokey Bear-toy bear, which came on the market in 1953. In the sixties, they had subsidiary companies in New York, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England and Germany. In 1978 the 75th anniversary was celebrated with a special bear. In 1982 the company was bought by CBS-Toys and doesn’t make Teddy Bears anymore.
The early Ideal-bears didn’t have a fixed trademark. They only way to identify them is by design and some special details. Later Ideal-Teddy Bears had a loose, carton label in the shape of a circus wagon, with print: An Ideal Ultrafine Animal; Ideal Novelty & Toy Co.; Long Island City NY.
One of the first Teddy Bears from Ideal, was given to the Smithsonian Institute in New York, in 1964. This bear is ideal for getting information about early Ideal-bears.
Classical Ideal-touches: wedge-shaped snout; a plump, hunchbacked body; long, bent, narrowing arms and unique, pointy oval-shaped toes. In the twenties the designs got slimmer with shorter arms.
Glass eyes were used for Ideal-bears after the 2nd WW. Before the war, Ideal, like most other companies, used shoeknot-eyes.
Sadly enough, the company used their designs for a long time, which weighs on the value for collectors.
Teddy bear examples
left: year: 1908, height: 16″/40cm
right: year: 1903, height: 20″/51cm, name: Charlamagne