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History of Steiff Teddy Bears

Steiff History

Margarete Steiff, the founder of the Steiff Company was born in the German town of Giengen. At a young age, she contracted polio and was confined to a wheel chair.  She became an expert seamstress and begain sewing clothing and gifts.  She eventually ordered the first sewing maching in Giengen for sewing clothing. She made her first toy, an elephant,  in 1879 as a gift. By 1893 there toys in the Steiff catalogue.  The Steiff company first showed steiff bears in their catalogue of 1897. In 1899 Margarete Steiff registered patents for soft toy designs which included a dancing bear and a bear handler with a brown bear.  

The "Teddy bear" is named after Theodore Roosevelt. During a hunting trip in 1903, his aides captured a cub bear and tied it to a tree for him to shoot. He refused to do so. Newspaper cartoonists of the time soon started drawing pictures of Theodore Roosevelt with the bear cub. It was from this story that the toy manufacturers came up with the "teddy bear." For many years, it was considered one of few toys appropriate for boys to play with. The Steiff teddy bear originated with the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903. Steiff introduced a bear designe by Richard Steiff and an American buyer, aware of the publicity for Teddy's bears, placed an order for 3000 bears. The teddy bear craze continued in the United States and President Roosevelt even used a bear as his mascot during his re-election campaign. The Steiff teddy bear has been a collectible item ever since.  

The Steiff button in the ear originated in 1904. Margarete Steiff died in 1909 and her nephews continued on the tradition of Steiff teddy bears.   The bears are still made in Giengen with much of the same attention to detail and hand work of their early years.  A Steiff stuffed animal is truly a labor of love, a work of art, and a fun collectible!


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