Tag Archives: Margarete Steiff

Steiff Bears Through the Years

Steiff limited edition bearSteiff bears are no doubt considered a classic in the realm of the toy kingdom. Not only are they emblazoned with so much history but they too are full on adorable and cuddly to perfection. A lot of limited editions have also been released making these stuffed animals one of the most sought after by toy collectors worldwide. If you’re curious how these Steiff bears came into existence, you better read on and walk through memory lane with us.

It all began in July 24, 1847 when the company’s founder, Margerete, was born to the Steiff family in the town of Giengen in Germany. It was in 1849 when she was a year and a half old when Margarete caught a severely high fever. What was a seemingly common fever was then the start of the young girl’s challenge through life. Later on both of her legs became paralyzed and she was set to live on a wheelchair after having been diagnosed with polio three years after that fateful night. At the time, medical research and facilities have not been as developed yet.

The said setback did not hinder young Margarete from doing things that most of her normal peers do. She went to school like everyone else and even enrolled in a sewing class. Her father did not give his consent at first given her condition but agreed after seeing her passion for it. It was at age seventeen when Margarete completed her seamstress training.

Her first career take was in 1862. Her elder sisters opened a small dressmaker’s shop where she worked as a part time seamstress. Years later, her sisters got married and had lives of their own. Margarete continued the business and in 1874 decided to convert the family home into her very own dressmaking workroom and saved up to buy her first sewing machine.

She did not begin sewing plush animals not until the release of the Modenwelt magazine on December 8, 1879 where a photo of a fabric elephant was printed. She got so fascinated by it that she decided to make a pincushion in the likes of it. She later called it the Elefantle. She sold them quite easily but observed that instead of using them as pin cushions, kids preferred to play with them. An idea crept through her mind and this was where the Steiff toy company was born.

A year later, Margarete was already able to sell five thousand Elefantles with the help of her brother Fritz. Soon after, they began making toys in the likes of cats, dogs, donkeys, giraffes, horses, mice, pigs and rabbits. By 1890, the ‘Filz-Spielwaren-Fabrik’ which translates to ‘Felt toy manufacturing facility’ was built.

Steiff bears only came into existence in 1902 after Margarete’s nephew Richard introduced the idea. He had a certain fondness for bears that he made one complete with jointed limbs, claws and mohair plush. It was the very first of its kind that it caught the eye of an American businessman who ordered three thousand pieces which he brought to the USA. The rest as we say is history.

Visit www.steiffteddybears.co.uk to learn more about these special teddy bears.