With the worldwide stock market debacle, Peter’s “Grin and Bear It” is
a timely box figurine. A bull market is when stock prices are
climbing, and a bear market is when they’re languishing. We all
unfortunately know which animal is prevailing. A common myth is that
the terms "bull market" and "bear market" are derived from the way
these animals attack a foe - bears attack by swiping their paws
downward and bulls toss their horns upward. This is a useful mnemonic,
but not the true origin of the terms. Long ago, "bear skin jobbers"
were known for selling bear skins that they did not own (the bears had
not yet been caught). This was the original source of the term "bear."
It was eventually used to describe short sellers, speculators who sold
shares that they did not own. Because bull and bear baiting were once
popular sports, "bulls" was understood as the opposite of "bears".
Bulls were those people who brought the expectation that a stock price
would rise, not fall. Carved on the base of Peter’s bull and bear are
the major stock market indices throughout the world. Inscribed on the
lid are market crash years – 1637 (the Tulip crash), 1720 (the South
Sea bubble), 1929 (the Wall Street crash), 1987 (Black Monday), and
2008 (as yet unnamed). Within “Grin and Bear It” are tulips,
commemorating the first recorded speculative bubble, which took place
in Holland in 1637, when bulbs of the newly-introduced tulip reached
extraordinary highs and then suddenly collapsed.