The Roosevelt Bears: Their Travels and Adventures
In 1905 and 1906, Canadian author Seymour Eaton published a serialized story of two anthropomorphic bears whose travelling adventures took them around the country. “Teddy-G” (‘G’ for gray) and “Teddy-B” (‘B’ for black), were inspired by the immensely popular U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, who was a favored figure in part due to his adventuresome personality. An incident of supposed compassion in which he purportedly ordered the “mercy” killing of a suffering black bear captured the national imagination. Apparently, it demonstrated the soft heart beneath the rugged person.
After the incident, stuffed bear toys were created to capitalize on the notoriety of the moment. The first coining of the moniker “teddy bear” was attributed to candy shop owners, Morris and Rosie Michtom, who had received permission from President Roosevelt to use his nickname for the novelties. Teddy bear sales were so good that the Michtoms created a toy company to mass produce them.
The “Roosevelt Bears: Their Travels and Adventures” was a fun book full of mirth and rhyme. Over several weeks, the serialized stories were published in 20 newspapers. The stories were eventually collected into books with additional materials. Due to the popularity of the first book, Eaton went on to write “More About Teddy B and Teddy G” (1906; reprinted in the 1980’s as “The Roosevelt Bears Go to Washington“), “The Roosevelt Bears Abroad” (1907) and “Teddy B and Teddy G, The Bear Detectives” (1908).
We’ve created a gallery of the all the color lithographs as well as some black and white ones from the first book. The illustrations by V. Floyd Campbell are gorgeous and hold an especial place in our memories since the book from which the scans were derived was given to us as a gift when we were children. The book was presented to us by Grandfather Lloyd who was himself about six when he was presented the book as a boy.