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Bully For Bear Buttons

~“Bully” For Bear Buttons~
 On a Mississippi bear hunting expedition in November of 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt’s failure to have a chance at bagging a bear encouraged his aggrieved hunting guides to tie a bear to a tree for the President to shoot. Roosevelt’s refusal to do this received much publicity. A subsequently published cartoon depicting this incident, drawn by Cliff Berryman, resulted in an overwhelming public response. December of 1902 saw the President presented with numerous gag gifts of stuffed bears for Christmas. Roosevelt, having such a great sense of humor, was not at all put out by the gaffes of his friends. The name Teddy Bear seems to have evolved thru the close association of the stuffed animal and the ever present illustration of Berryman’s bear in the political illustrations of President Theodore Roosevelt ever after that 1st published illustration of the Nov. hunting incident. The little furry creature had captured the hearts of folks young and old, and of course toy and novelty makers couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capitalize commercially.

The Teddy Bear craze is now a unique part of our American history. All of this capitalizing also resulted in the production of what are considered “Roosevelt” bear buttons. Even with the political connotations, many were made for children’s clothing. There are at least ten different bear depictions. Some of the designs very much resemble a Steiff-looking bear. Others show a more bear-like bear carrying a “big stick”and performing such American activities as playing a banjo, running with a football and pitching a baseball. There is even a button with a bear and lettering, saying, “Will You Be My Teddy Bear”. I’d love to own that one. Alas, these buttons are very difficult to find and if you do, well, they can be a bit pricy. This is where I’ve done some entrpreneurializing of my own. I have had some lovely reproductions of the Steiff-like bear buttons made. The 2001 reproduction button is available in Antique Gold and Pewter.

In the year of 2002 we celebrated the anniversary of the Teddy Bear. I have had one of the less common Roosevelt Bear buttons reproduced in Antique Gold and back-marked as a special edition button. I also have commemorative pins available. Please come to one of my shows to learn more. © abuttonlady Back To Top


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