The Roosevelt Bear: Discovering One of the Rarest and First Ever Teddy Bears

Robert Csech hit the jackpot of garage sale finds. Today the retired correctional officer details his exhaustive detective work to discover the history behind his rare Roosevelt Teddy Bear, circa 1903.



Hello, My name is Robert Csech. I am a retired California Correctional Officer. I took the oath to always tell the truth. So please believe this amazing true story of mine.

All my life I have been buying collectibles and antiques for a hobby. One day, summer of 1999, at 8 o’clock in the morning I was garage sailing. I came across this very old looking stuffed bear. I quickly grabbed the bear and asked, “how much is the old bear?”

An elderly lady there replied “just two dollars” and right away the bear went under my arms. And I paid the lady. They seemed to have no interest in the bear. Seemed to me this was a charity, donated items to sell.

Well at home that day I began my very long research project on this bear. Because this old bear had this amazing unique face. I just had to find its maker. Well, 10 years go by researching for my bear’s face with no luck.

So then I began to look for bears with similar body styles. Another year goes by as I am focussing on the famous Smithsonian bear. I saw my old bear compared closely to this bear. Not the face, just the body style. I was so confused. So far in my intense research. No teddy bear looking like mine has ever come up at any auction house or in any of the many books I have looked at.

My intense research focused on the very early, in the beginning of American teddy bear making. Specifically, Morris and Rose Michtom of Brooklyn, N.Y. This led me to research the earliest teddy bear advertisements, postcards. stories, photos, in teddy bear books.

And then one day I read that early Morris Michtom bears had these thick leg thighs, as in the drumstick look, (a turkey leg look). Why, my bear has this. Days go by when I read that other teddy bears of the time looked so realistic. While the Michtom bears had a sweet innocent, endearing baby face. So I looked up the word endearing and it said (everlasting smile).

From this moment, I went into a shock. Because everytime I hold my old bear and look at him in a certain way. Why it seems like my bear is smiling? Wow. Months go by in my research. When I finally realize my old bear is in all original condition. Golden mohair, fully jointed, very stiff body parts, flat feet.

And I thought this bear should stand up. So I took it over to my dining room table, with a few adjustments. The bear stood upright. Wow. Now I am in a deep shock. I remember reading a postcard from 1905. Saying teddy bears are doomed because they no longer stood upright. Wow.

From my past research, I know the earliest teddy bears were very stiff and flat footed. like the years 1903 to 1905 maybe. Well, I must have a very early, undocumented Morris Michtom bear. As I compared my bear to the famous Smithsonian bear. I could see the difference.

The famous Smithsonain bear has rounded soles under his feet. Also the Smithsonian bear has this seem up his belly. Not so straight looking, it curves. As if the bear is not so stiff inside his belly. And as all antique teddy bears have this seem up their belly, as the seamstress closing seam.

As in production teddy bears. Not my old bear. As I look very close at my bear. I could see with a close eye. My bear has its closing seem up its belly. Done in a special way as if to hide its closing seem. From research I learned that Morris Michtom was a part time tailor. By now I am in shock knowing from the many pictures, that Morris Michtom’s first teddy bear style had this full open mouth.

Then by no mistake, I have an original teddy bear…a genuine Teddy Roosevelt bear cir. 1903. and the original teddy bear is the same thing. What I have done, in my in depth research on this subject, has never been done before.

I was only able to do this because I have the bear. I put the many different pieces of the puzzle together. To solve this mystery, I did just that. There is so much more to tell the world of what I have discovered.

In my intense research on this subject. I need to write a book. In 2014 I submitted a photo to the Smithsonian magazine photo contest. Under the title, American Experience. And they posted my bear’s photo under the title Icon, Where it has been featured, sense. Please Google up Latest icon photos / Smithsonian Photo contest. Once there click on Most Viewed. See my old bear. He comes up first every time. The Smithsonian Magazine says my old bear is an icon. Wow.

Or just Google up Teddy Roosevelt bear cir. 1903. See my old bear. He comes up first again. This very special bear of mine belongs in the Smithsonian Institute.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
14 days ago

What a great ol’ bear!

11 days ago

So cool

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x