The German brand Steiff has come a long way. So long that the company has in fact celebrated over a century of providing smiles and happiness by virtue of their stuffed animals. They have released quite a number of these cuddly wonders over the years ranging from simple, whimsical and even Steiff limited edition bears. Today, we shall drive down memory lane and find out how Steiff came to be the powerhouse we know of.
Named after its founder Margarete Steiff, the brand was born in Germany and quite accidentally too. Maragrete contacted polio as a child rendering her bound to a wheelchair. Despite the said predicament, she pursued her talents and passions; sewing to be exact.
She first enrolled in a sewing and dressmaking class despite her father’s oppositions. He didn’t want her having to work on such a physical task and thought the industry to be too hard for her but eventually he gave in after her many pleas.
After completing the class, Margarete later joined her sisters Marie and Pauline open a shop. She loved the job so much that she continued with it after her sisters left to pursue their family and married lives. This was the time when her father converted part of their family home and turned it into her workshop.
On the 8th of December in 1879, she came across a magazine called the “Elefäntle” where a pattern for a small elephant made of fabric was featured. This inspired her to design pin cushion in the shape of the said animal. They sold well but instead of being a sewing tool, it became popular among children as toys.
Around 1880, Margarete and her family have sold huge numbers of the elefäntle. At one time her brother Fitz sold so many of these at the Heidenheim market. By 1886, they’ve sold over five thousand of these toys and also began designing other stuffed animals.
It was only in 1902 when the Steiff brand came across the much celebrated teddy bear. Maragrete’s nephew Richard made various sketches of animals which later on became the basis of many of the brand’s models. He was also known to have a particular penchant for bears that he designed the “Bear 55 PB”, the very first known teddy bear in the world that featured jointed arms and legs and plush mohair.
Since then, the Steiff brand has taken the world by storm and many of Steiff limited edition bears are heavily sought after all over the globe. Visit http://www.steiffteddybears.co.uk.