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Teddy's Adventures in Africa | Teddy's First Encounter with the Wild Animals

figure set

Throughout history, American toy makers have borrowed images from popular culture for their toys and games. This early 20th-century play set, for example, captures in miniature President Theodore Roosevelt's famous expedition to Africa. In 1909, at the conclusion of his final term in office, the former Rough Rider departed from New York on a yearlong African safari. Accompanied by his son Kermit, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, two renowned hunters, and several porters from local African communities, Roosevelt traveled from Mombasa, across British East Africa, into Egypt, and then to Khartoum, Sudan, where he ended his safari. The party succeeded in gathering thousands of specimens for the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The safari received significant media coverage, helping to secure Roosevelt's legacy as an adventurer and an outdoorsman, as well as a beloved figure in American history and popular culture. The Albert Schoenhut Company produced this play set, called Teddy's Adventures in Africa, in time for Christmas 1909, before the Roosevelt safari had come to an end. Available in three different sizes, the set included figures representing Roosevelt, other members of the hunting party such as photographers and naturalists, African natives, various animals (many of which the company copied from its Humpty Dumpty circus set), and accessories such as a tent, camps stools, barrels, supplies, and a backdrop. The set's human figures all have jointed wooden bodies. Their faces, cast in a plaster-like material and affixed to the wooden head, all have hand-painted features. All of the animal figures, also jointed and made of hand-carved wood, have glass eyes, with the exception of the gorilla's painted eyes. The company discontinued the safari set in 1912, but it remains popular amongst antique toy collectors today.

  • Manufacturer: The A. Schoenhut Co.
  • Material: wood | painted | cloth | metal | elastic
  • Origin: Philadelphia, PA
  • Object ID: 78.3460
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