Story of the Bull and Bear for Wall Street

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Why are the bull and bear symbols of the stock market?

Oxford English Dictionary gives no earlier usage of "bull" in this sense than in the combination "bears and bulls," cited in a 1714 publication. Bulls may have been associated with bears because, from the sixteenth well into the nineteenth century, a popular entertainment in England was the baiting of bulls and bears, which involved putting one or the other in a pit and letting dogs loose on them, to see which animals survived.  Pretty gruesome, huh?

Thomas Nast, famed nineteenth-century cartoonist, popularized the image of bulls and bears in the U.S. stock market. Bull markets and Bear markets are now global terms. Today, how do we interpret the bull and the bear?

The BEAR attacks a bull by using its teeth. Thus, a bear with an open mouth and its teeth showing is a very fearsome bear. The bear tends to attack in a downward motion. A bear market is when prices are falling. The stock market is always going up and down – but a stock market that trends down for months would be classified a bear market. Bears are sluggish so decline might be slow.

If we look at the past, bearskins were sold by middlemen before they had received the skins. Just like commodities today, these middlemen would speculate on the future purchase price of these skins from the trappers. These middlemen became known as "bears", short for bearskin jobbers, and the term stuck for describing a downturn in the market. In order for a bear to simulate a bear market, the stock market has a downward motion.

The BULL is an aggressive beast who will run across a pasture to attack. In BULL fights the matador doesn’t always win – even using the unfair tactics used in bull fighting. The massive bull sculpture on Wall Street is sometimes called a Charging Bull. It faces Wall Street all ready to charge.

The Bull that symbolizes Wall Street has BIG horns. These horns are important in this analogy. The end of the horns points upward. Thus, if the bull lowered its horns it is not nearly as effective as if he raises his horns. A Bull RAISING its horns is symbolic of a Bull market. A Bull market is rising. Lots of time the market can jump up quite a bit even in one day. The Bull is aggressive.

Best position for a Bear – coming down on the Bull. Best position for a Bull – raising its horn on the Bear. Our Bull and Bear sculptures have different poses as they attempt to win the fight.  Check out our bull and bear sculptures: Bull and Bear sculptures