Steiff bears have rightfully earned the recognitions that the world has thrown its way over the years. For more than a century, the German brand and toy manufacturer has produced so much of these that they’ve become a certified household name. But for the younger generation, there’s a lot about them that we may not know of yet. Today’s the day we’re bound to discover a little more about these cuddly wonders. Care to read?
- The founder of the Steiff brand was a polio victim. Margarete contacted the disease at an early age which left her bound to a wheelchair. Regardless, she took up sewing classes, became a seamstress, opened her own shop and the rest is history.
- The plush toy manufacturer was a pretty accident. As mentioned, Maragrete trained and worked as a seamstress. At the time, she saw the “ELEFäNTLE”, a pattern for a small elephant made of fabric in an issue of a magazine called “Modenwelt” dated December 8, 1879 and used it to create pin cushions. Later, she noticed that instead of the ladies using it as a sewing tool, children played with them instead. It was then that the company was born. But it wasn’t until 1902 that the infamous bears were born thanks to the genius that is Richard Steiff, Margarete’s nephew.
- Margaret coined the company’s motto which states that “only the best is good enough for children”. She implemented meticulous testing, manufacturing and safety protocols to make sure that the toys were not only fun and adorable but were also safe which up to today is strongly upheld by the brand.
- One of the most popular Steiff bears of all time was renowned not for its design or expensive materials but for its story and previous owner. Teddy Girl, was manufactured in 1904 and was then owned by Colonel Bob Henderson who brought the toy along with him as he fought during the second World War. Years after his death, it was sold for £110,000 at a 1994 Christies auction in London to Japanese businessman Yoshihiro Sekiguchi.
- Winnie the Pooh, the infamous bear we all came to love in cartoons and television was fashioned out of a Steiff bear. Illustrator E.H. Shepard used his son’s toy named Growler as the inspiration and basis for the character.
Button in ears in the Steiff bears today mean many things. Depending on their material and design, one could decipher their date or decade of production and rarity. But back in the day, these were added by the company to differentiate the originals from the replicas as the plush toy industry got into a boom.
Learn more about Steiff at steiffteddybears.co.uk.