Arctophily is the name that has been given to the fascinating hobby of collecting teddy bears, while arctophile describes the avid collector. The term, literally meaning love or friend of bears, comes from the Greek word arktos , bear, and philos , friend.
~A hug of bears:
As with groups of animals, a collection of teddy bears now also has its own specific name: a hug. This descriptive word originates from the British actor Peter Bull, a keen arctophile and author of Bear with Me, and The Teddy Bear Book, two titles which, in 1969, sparked off a revival in teddy bear interest.
In any book on teddy bears the origin of this popular toy’s name comes up at one point or another. In fact, the story is confused and there is more than one explanation of what, or who, inspired the word teddy bear .
Some say this appealing toy was named after King Edward the VII of England – affectionately known as Ted – who, a frequent visitor to the zoo, was reputed to take a particular interest in the bear.
More commonly, historians state that the name came from Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, America’s twenty-sixth president, who refused to shoot a bear cub that was tied to a tree during an unsuccessful hunting expedition in 1902. Political cartoonist Clifford Berryman of The Washington Post captured this event in a cartoon entitled ‘Drawing the line in Mississippi’, from which stemmed the description ‘Teddy’s Bear’.
As most teddy owners know, taking care of you teddy bear is of the utmost importance. After all, how many times has you teddy bear taken care of you? In 1954 Wendy Boston created a revolutionary new, machine washable teddy bear, but on the whole most bears are fairy delicate and require more sensitive treatment.
As a general rule, try to keep you bear out of direct sunlight and dusty, smoky or damp atmospheres, and away from drafts, water pipes, air conditioners and humidifiers, as these conditions could mar your teddy’s fur. Use lavender bags, cedar wood shavings or mothballs to protect the coat from moths, who are inclined to find fur quite tasty!
When cleaning you bear begin by removing any dust by gently applying a vacuum, covered with cloth to cushion the suction. Before washing always first test any cleansing substance on a small section of your bear that is hidden from sight, such as under the arm, to ensure that it does not alter the color or texture of the fur.
Use soap-suds – rather than soapy liquid – from a mild detergent or upholstery cleaner and apply with a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush. Never scrub your bear, but gently wipe the foam away. Avoid mouth, nose and paws as these areas may not be colorfast. Sit your bear in the sun to dry or use a hairdryer on a low setting and then gently comb the fur to remove any tangles.
~Bears and food:
‘Honey can be runny, or really very thick, but full of taste and oh so sweet, it’s every bear’s best treat’.
Even the Encyclopedia Britannica states that bears love honey and it is true to say that most teddy bear characters are portrayed as being very attached to their food!
Mishka, the Russian bear, has been described as ‘desperate’ to open a pot of honey he found in the forest, and Seymour Eaton’s Roosevelt Bears had an astonishing capacity for anything edible!
Paddington Bear is constantly preoccupied with his marmalade sandwiches, a handy supply which he keeps under his hat, while Winnie-the-pooh is always on the look out for honey or something edible as ‘elevenses’!
(Makes 20-25 biscuits)
500g/1lb plain flour
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
120g/4oz soft brown sugar
90g/3oz black treacle
60g/2oz golden syrup
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 180 degrees (180 Fahrenheit). Mix together the dry ingredients. Melt butter, sugar, treacle and syrup and pour onto the dry ingredients. Add the egg and mix to form a dough. Knead lightly and roll out to 0.3cm (1/8 inch) thick. Use a cutter to make as many teddy shapes as possible. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. When cool, decorate with raisins or icing.
~Bear – o – scopes:
Although most bears join their families at Christmas, which would make them Capricorns, the first teddy of record appeared in a newspaper cartoon by Clifford Berryman on November 18, 1902, which would make his birth sign a Scorpio or possibly on the cusp between Scorpio and Sagittarius, two very auspicious signs of the Zodiac.
Just as we have birthdays, every teddy bear also has his or her individual birthday, some bears even arriving with a birth certificate attached to help you recall their particular bear – o – scope!