Sep 28, 2023 - Sale 2646

Sale 2646 - Lot 247

Price Realized: $ 5,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
(PRESIDENTS--1902.) Cabinet cards depicting Theodore Roosevelt's Mississippi "teddy bear" hunt. 13 photographs, 4 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches, on original photographer's mounts, all captioned in ink on recto and/or verso; minor foxing and wear to mounts. Vicksburg, MS: A.L. Blanks, November 1902

Additional Details

The trip which launched "Teddy Bears" as a phenomenon.

While normal presidents might take their vacations on the beach or a golf course, in 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt accepted an invitation to a bear hunt in the remote Mississippi woods twelve miles from the Smedes railroad stop. He was accompanied by a hunting party of at least fifteen, including his personal secretary George Cortelyou, who later held three cabinet positions. Leading the hunt and managing the hounds was the legendary Hoke Collier, a Black man who had acted as a guide for Confederate general Wade Hampton.

The hunting party arrived at the site on 13 November 1902. The culminating moment of the expedition skirts the line between fact and folklore. Roosevelt had been told to wait at a certain spot where a bear would be likely to pass. Hearing the other hunters chasing a bear in the opposite direction, he took a brief break for lunch, during which the bear was chased back through the designated point. Hunting guide Collier managed to bludgeon the bear without killing it, and tied it up to await Roosevelt's return. However, Roosevelt balked at the idea of shooting a bound and stunned animal, and refused to shoot it. This story quickly spread around the world, inspiring countless manufacturers to create "Teddy Bears" in his honor. The story is largely forgotten today, but the teddy bears remain.

Three of these photographs show President Roosevelt in his hunting gear: one on horseback, one with his companions while brandishing a blurry rifle; and the third in the background, hopelessly blurry--he was not much for standing still. His secretary Cortelyou is shown shaving in his tent. One group shot does not show the two northern politicians, but does feature hunting guide Holt Collier front and center. Another shows a Black man identified as "Papa Swimp, magistrate & camp cook, & a good one too." Three press correspondents are shown in one image, while another shows "Four Negro hunters & Ben Johnson who kept correspondents back." One is a "picture of the camp, with Old Remus, famous strike dog."

The Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge was created near the site of the original hunt. Provenance: personal set of William Wynans Mangum (1847-1921), a Mississippi planter who helped organize the hunt; his granddaughter Ella Mangum Hardie (1904-1975); gift to the mother of the consignor.