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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • PROTECT HER FROM TUBERCULOSIS

Teddy Bear Skins: 1908

Teddy Bear Skins: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Cutting out teddy bear skins." 8x10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

 

Hard to Bear

Can you imagine how cute these hundreds of little cubs were as they scampered about Teddy Bear Wood, blithely unaware of their fate?

Cut it out.

The factory workforce seems skeptical about the qualifications of the two new hires as they wait to begin the day's production.

Leverage

The heavy lever the guy to the right is hanging onto is what he uses to bring down the die plate to force the "cookie cutter" dies through the thick stack of material. Those other guys may look mean, but the guy who pulls that lever is bound to have muscles aplenty and the other blokes know it.

The New Kid

Pssst! Everyone! Pass it on. Come watch. We told the new kid to put down his feather duster and push the big lever.

Let's see how far it catapults this one through the roof!

Wipe that smirk off your face, young man

I bet he was the boss' son, and the others hate him.

How long would it take that place to burst into flames? Scary.

Details

Considering the state of the workroom, the feather duster to the right is a nice touch!

Steve Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America

$100,000 Teddy Bears

If production of Teddy Bears hadn't been streamlined since 1908, a Teddy Bear would be $100,000 today!

Guy on right

I believe the guy on the right is actually the power for the press. It's similar to a shear and he pulls the arm towards him to cut the little teddy bear shapes.

Pooh?

Is that you?

My first instinct...

when I see the press and dies is to go back and count the operator's fingers.

What They're Doing Is....

they're all staring at that one fellow.

Trouble abrewing

The look on the young man at the right with the lever combined with the looks he's getting from several of his co-workers tells me they're just waiting for him to do or say something out of order. Would love to hear it since it might lighten things up a bit.

What's My Line

So, what's your line of work then? Oh, I'm a teddy bear skin cutter-out.

The lad on the right seems to be the centre of attention, and is accordingly rather self-conscious. I imagine the photographer has spent some time instructing him as to how to behave: "No, no, don't look at the camera, just look natural, like you normally do."

Lost quiz opportunity

OK, be honest: without the caption and negative inscription, how many of you out there would have come up with that answer to the question, "What are they doing here?"?

Tidy up!

A neat workplace is a safe workplace. Safety last!

Ghosts and other forms

I'm curious about the cookie cutter-looking things near the man in the leather apron. I'm guessing that they're forms for cutting the bears, but I'm having a hard time translating the shape of the forms into the shape of a teddy bear.

Also, I'm loving how many ghost images there are in this picture. It seems like only half of the people paid attention when the photographer asked them to hold still, and especially the guys on the far right.

And finally, what's up with the giant beam that the man in the foreground is carrying?

If I had to guess what was happening in this image, "cutting out teddy bear skins" would not have been at the top of my list. Very interesting.

Efficiency

It appears that this is a two man job, cutting many "skins" at a time. I wonder why this place wasn't swept up before the photo. The dies used to cut different parts of the bear are all over the place and stepping on one might stop production. Scraps on the floor represent a sure thing fire hazard. Although die cutting is still done today, the start of laser cutting of fabric began 40 years ago. The feather duster is a nice touch.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,904938,00.html

 
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