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Ideal

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Company History

Date Event
1902-3
Inspired by the Clifford Berryman's cartoon of President Roosevelt's encounter with a bear cub Morris Michtom and his wife, Rose, hand-made a teddy bear and displayed it in their small stationery store in Brooklyn, New York
1903
The bears proved popular and production increased. The Butler Brothers, wholesalers, supported Michtom's efforts guaranteeing their credit with mills producing plush. The Company was known as Ideal Novelty Toy Company.
1907

Moved to larger premises in Christopher Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

1912 Abraham Katz, a friend of the Michtom's, joined the company as co-chairman and influenced design and production
1923 Benjamin, Morris Michtom's son, joined the Company as co-chairman
1938 Morris Michtom died. Benjamin, his son, took over. The Company was known as the Ideal Toy Company.
1941 Lionel Weintraub joined the Company
1953 Company name is changed to Ideal Toy Corporation
1962 Lionel Weintraub became President
1968 Became a public company and listed on the New York Stock Exchange with headquarters in Hollis, New York and factory in Newark, New Jersey
1982 Mark Michtom, the founders grandson, sells Company to CBS Toys
1984 Bears no longer produced. Hasbro buys some Company assets

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Ideal Bears

The company was granted a license to produce the first Smokey Bear soft toy in 1953, which promoted the US Forest Fire Prevention Campaign. The earliest Smokey was made of cinnamon synthetic plush, had moulded plastic paws and feet and wore blue denim jeans, brown vinyl belt, silver badge with "Smokey Ranger Prevent Forest Fires" on his chest and a yellow hat. A second version of Smokey was produced in 1954 and a third in 1960.

In 1978 Ideal produced a collectors' bear to celebrate it's 75th anniversary. The 40cm (16") bear was made of light brown acrylic plush and filled with soft nylon stuffing (it could be machine washed and tumble dried). The bear had an inset white muzzle, white synthetic plush pads with light brown stenciled pad markings. It bore a yellow fabric label on it's chest to commemorate The Original Ideal Teddy Bear.


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Ideal Bear Identification

  • Head: distinctive wide triangular shape
  • Body: long and narrow, the final seam is most often in the front
  • Ears: large, wide set low on the head
  • Eyes: pre WWI boot button eyes were used however Ideal did produce some bears with painted white rimmed and black boot button eyes until 1912 - these are quite rare. After WWI glass eyes were used. Eyes are close together and often deep set.
  • Muzzle: long, usually shaved
  • Nose: large, usually black horizontal stitches
  • Arms: set low on the body
  • Feet: oval, with rounded heels and distinctive pointed toes
  • Fabric: short golden mohair, early bears were filled with woodwool
  • Labels: early bears did not have labels or id and could be difficult to identify. A label and paper tag were introduced in 1938 - the swing tag was shaped like a wagon.


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