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Teatime in the workshop: Missive No.2

‘Presidential Delights’

It’s teatime in the workshop and although it isn’t quite December we are already indulging in a mince pie or two.  The end of the lockdown is in sight and we are looking forward to getting on with the uplifting business of Christmas.  A merry bunch of workshop elves packaging up our festive bear orders; and we have also been working with some inspirational people to create very particular bears, both private commissions and for some extraordinary brands.  Nurturing relationships, old and new, is such an important aspect of a family business and this month we have been making a ‘hug of bears’ (yes, it is the official collective noun) for the wonderful folk at the Welsh woollen duvet company Baavet; we also have shipped bears to ‘The Chocolatier’ Aneesh Popat that echo his extraordinary branding, more on that to follow; and we’ve been creating our lovely patchwork friends for Firmdale Hotels. This month, iconic lifestyle and hospitality brand Thyme have featured an interview with our own Kerstin Blackburn in their online magazine, ‘Thoughts from Thyme’ talking a little about the lovely lambs we make for them. You can read it here.

We’ve been feeling quite nostalgic about past commissions and writing in our last missive about President Roosevelt and the origin of the ‘Teddy Bear’, against the exciting backdrop of the elections in the United States, brought to mind Canterbury Bears’ own Presidential Commission.  In 1992 the Blackburn Family were contacted by the Smithsonian Institute in New York.  Bill Clinton had just been elected to become the next President of the United States and we were advised that clothier Ben Silver of Charleston had been engaged to make an inauguration silk to celebrate the occasion. They wanted us to make two very special bears– one for the new president and one for his vice president, Al Gore.  John Blackburn set about designing a traditional bear that would incorporate the silk and the team excitedly got to work doing what they do best. These historic bears were presented to Clinton and Gore in January 1993, the week of their White House Inauguration. This week we spent an indulgent hour or two looking through old boxes of photographs and look what we found …


PAWS FOR THOUGHT

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In 1907, five years after the creation of the first ‘teddy bear’, American composer John W. Bratton, wrote “The Teddy Bear Two-step.” Which we have come to know and love as “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’. It was an instant instrumental hit … you can hear a fabulous recording of it being performed in the year it was written by the Black Diamond Band, listen here .

Twenty five years later, the Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy added the lyrics that we are so familiar with and it was recorded by popular thirties songster Val Rosing and The Henry Hall Orchestra.  Since then it has been recorded by many stars of screen and stage … but our favourite is the 1950 version by crooner Bing Crosby … enjoy!


NEXT TEATIME …

We’ll be looking into a little bear artistry: ours, our customer’s #bearsathome art and a little meander through bear-art history!