About Steiff Teddy Bears
In this Guide
How are Steiff Teddy bears made?
What are Steiff Teddy bears made from?
What about toy safety?
What is the 'button in the ear' and what do the different tags mean?
What is the history of Steiff Teddy bears?
Margarete Steiff - A Biography Pt. 1
Margarete Steiff - A Biography Pt.2
The creation of a Steiff animal
Research & Development
Steiff Bears from Toys to Collectors Item
About the Steiff museum
Steiff's Product Numbering System
How are Steiff Teddy bears made?
Manufacturing is much more than just a euphonious term for us.
We have taken up the cause of filing this term with life - according to the tradition and in the spirit of the founder of Steiff, Margarete Steiff.
Because where things are created by hand, there is always alot of creativity, energy, ability, experience, enthusiasm for the little details, dexterity and instinctive feeling at work.
Hand made with lots of love - love of detail and love of the finished product itself.
It is exactly this enthusiasm for the beautiful things in life, the extraordinary, the desire for perfection that you will feel when you hold one of our animals in your hands and stroke its soft fur.
Each of our animals tells his own individual story.
It tells of his soft, comical or even untamed, wild, role models in nature.
It tells his own personal story of his creation from a bold vision, to an initial idea, from his first birthday as a sample animal, of fine materials, precious wool felt and cuddly plush, of finest alpaca and mohair.
It tells of the moment in which it received its unmistakable character - the loving, intricate handicraft with which its realistic-looking eyes are applied and the friendly facial features that are the result when the nose, mouth and claws are stitched by hand.
It seems as if time stands still for just a moment when you meet your new friend by Steiff for the very first time and it smiles at you with a curious, friendly smile.
You might even spontaneously return that smile - because it makes you happy and may even bring back memories you thought had been lost forever.
What are Steiff Teddy bears made from?
Alpaca - The gold of the Incas
The luxurious wool from the fur of the alpaca is the warmest and thickest natural fibre that exists.
Mohair - A masterpiece of nature
Silky smooth, lustrous, gentle softness that invites you to touch and feel: all of these are characteristics of mohair. It is a facinating natural fibre obtained from the very long, curly and sumptuous white fur of the angora goat - one of the most valuable races of goats in the world.
Woven fur soft to the touch
A Steiff animal owes its lifelike character to its incomparably real and natural-feeling fur made of woven fur.
Plush - Perfect for baby soft skin
The Steiff baby products use only the finest plush materials and with Steiff, you know your little one will be receiving the softest and most cuddly Teddy bear or animal.
What about toy safety?
"Only the best is good enough for our children": Over one hundred years ago, the founder of Steiff, Margarete Steiff, was dedicated to doing justice to her personal credo and later Steiff basic principle in all areas of the company.
It is our goal to create not only the most beautiful and best toy animals and Teddy bears in the world but also the safest.
In order to live up to this high standard, we have developed a special quality control system to supervise the entire creative development and production process: from the initial idea for the product until the moment when a Steiff animal leaves the manufactory in Giengen.
We have created the "Steiff Purity Law".
This involves the voluntary examination of our products - not those imposed by any standards - because harmful substances of any type have absolutely no place in our high-quality Steiff products.
The Steiff Purity Law
- Steiff voluntarily avoids the use of harmful substances - beyond those of legal regulations.
- Steiff avoids the use of all materials which could cause allergies.
- Steiff uses only physiologically-harmless colours for all dyeing and colouring processes.
- Steiff uses only selected materials from renowned manufacturers, mainly from Germany and Europe.
- Steiff uses highest quality, lint-free uppers for its toy animals and Teddy bears.
- Steiff uses only new and safe materials for the fillings of its toy animals and Teddy bears.
- Steiff has clearly higher requirements of the workmanship of seams and applications than required by all international standards.
- Steiff produces toy animals and Teddy bears according to the sustainability principle - they are created to last for generations.
- Steiff is dedicated to observing the highest level of purity during its production process - from cutting the material until the product is delivered to the customer.
- Steiff uses independent laboratories and institutes to consistently examine the Steiff Purity Law.
What is the 'button in the ear' and what do the different tags mean?
Steiff Original Collection
Every Steiff animal with the world-famous trademark, the Steiff "Button in Ear", shows that it comes from one of the best families - and every Steiff Teddy bear and Steiff animal proudly wears an ear tag as a clearly recognisable identification.
Steiff Limited Edition
All the animals and Teddy bears at Steiff are very pleased to receive the extraordinary distinction of the white ear tag with red writing because these are produced in a limited edition.
The Teddy bears and animals of the replica series by Steiff are a very special and extraordinary species.
What is the history of Steiff Teddy bears?
Appolonia Margarete Steiff, formally known as 'Margarete Steiff', but most affectionally as 'Gretle', was born on 24th July 1847, in Giengen in southern Germany. At a young age Margarete contracted Polio, leaving her right arm hurt and legs paralyzed meaning she was wheelchair bound. With a passion for sewing, Margarete attended sewing school to become a seamstress, giving her a difficult education because of her disability. After leaving school Margarete started to play the Zither, (a string instrument) this aided with the development of her right hand.
In 1874, Margaretes family converted their home into a small tailors shop, and with the first earnings Margarete bought her own sewing machine. Working there, but still striving for independence Margarete founded her own felt clothing business, which successfully sold clothes and household items. With her business growing Margarete could soon afford to employ several seamstress’s.
In 1879 Margarete came across a design for an small cloth elephant in a fashion magazine “Modenwolt” (Fashion World), magazines like such, were crucial reading for any entrepreneur in her field. Margarete started to make these elephants as pin cushions, but then started to create more for children’s toys. From this time on Margarete continued to make felt clothing (her main income) but she also made the little elephants, 5,000 were sold in the next six years. With Margarete designing more and more children’s toys, in 1892, Margarete was able to produce her very first Steiff catalogue, which included monkeys, donkeys, horses, camels, pigs, mice, dogs, and cats.
Richard Steiff, (who was Margaretes nephew, was studing applied arts in Stuttgart) created many designs for the Steiff animals, joined the company in 1897, and designed the first Teddy Bear shortly after. This was named the “Bear 55PB” which meant that it was 55cm, made from mohair plush, and bar jointed. This was the first ever Teddy Bear, and it also had moveable limbs making it a huge step forward in children’s toys. Whilst Margarete remained skeptical, Richard took the bear to a toy trade fair, where the bear was noticed by an American trader. To Richards delight 3,000 where ordered and shipped to America, where they adopted the name Teddy Bear, they were named after the current President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
To ward off competitors and to build a worldwide brand, Margarete Steiff GmbH was made, each Steiff toy had its own seal of approval (a button in its ear), and the company sign was made “Steiff- Knopf im Ohr” (Button in Ear).
She would have been very proud. And the founder of the company and Steiff legend, Margarete Steiff, surely would have given her heartfelt thanks to all the Steiff employees. She would have thanked them for making company history as well as the entire world of stuffed animals for one hundred years since her death on May 9, 1909. She would have thanked them for keeping her dream alive in every Steiff animal that leaves Giegen an der Brenz to go out into the wide world.
Because you can see it in the expression of every Steiff animal or Teddy bear - that special glow, the joy; Margarete Steiff's unbridled, creative spirit. Her extraordinary ideas. Her human as well as entrepreneurial courage. Her legendary drive. Her unbroken, positive energy, her goodness, warmth and affection.
Despite debilitating illness that afflicted her as a child and was a part of the rest of her life, she never forgot one invaluable thing: being a child. The ability to always go through life with eyes and ears open - and the greatest gift to always be able to recognise the beauty, the enriching and the uplifting in every minute detail or moment. Her spirit continues to live on even today - one hundred years after Margarete Steiff's death. It lives on in the loving expression in the eyes of every Steiff Teddy bear. You can feel it in his arms stretched out for a big, heartfelt hug. You can see it in the friendly face of every Steiff animal that makes the journey into a child's playroom or in the home of an enthusiastic young-at-heart Steiff fan and collector.
The world may change so quickly and in so many ways - yet one thing will always remain the same:
Every Teddy bear and every animal that leaves the Steiff Company that is so rich in tradition homage to an extraordinary woman whose credo is still the maxim for the worldwide business concern Steiff today:
Only the best is good enough for our children.
Margarete Steiff, A Biography: Part 1
Appolonia Margarete Steiff was born in Giengen Germany on the 24th July 1847. She was the third child in a family with four children. The Steiff family consisted of the two parents, Margaretes two older sisters and her younger brother.
Margarete Steiffs father, Friedrich Steiff was a master builder in Giengen and her mother Maria Margarete Steiff, ran the household and supported her husband in his his work.
Margarete Steiff contracted polio at just 18 months old, confining her to wheelchair for the rest of her life. This is and was of course a terrible tragedy for anyone to endure, especially in the 19th century. this meant that Margarete Steiff mother would have to care for her for the rest of her life. Margarete would never have been able to take on the role of housewife and mother and at this time in history, seemed to have no prospects for the future.
The apparently helpless margarete Steiff had other ideas. She had a very cheerful and positive outlook on life, this made her very popular. She always wanted to be involved with in any outdoor activities whatever the weather and was always asking friends and family to carry her outside even during winter months.
Margarete Steiffs family was very close and loving, she was able to stay with various family members and even neighbours throughout the year in order to give her immediate family a break from her care.
When the time came for Margarete Steiff to start school, her family became very concerned that the organisation needed at the time to send such a disabled person to school would make it impossible for Margarete to get a proper education. To their delight this turned out to be much more simple than they had feared due to the amazing community spirit in Giengen, a quality which Steiff members credit to this day. Margarete Steiff was accompanied by neighbour children to school as well as her sisters. A family friend who lived near her school would carry young Margarete up the school steps.
Though her work was above average, Margarete Steiff, like most children spent her free time playing with other children wherever possible. As an extremely creative person she spent hour designing games or planning playful activities so that she could take part.
Margarete Steiff very quickly unearthed her most important natural gift as this early time in her childhood. She learned how to talk to people in a way that made them want to do what she wanted.
Margarete Steiff looked after young children while their mothers work at work in order to help re-pay all the people who had helped her throughout her life. She was hard working and unspoiled.
Margarete Steiff underwent unsuccessful surgery on her legs when she was under 10 years old. This was a traumatic experience but one that made her mature as a person. It was after her recovery that she expressed her wish to attend sewing school. Friedrich Steiff was initially against the idea, afraid that she would fail and that this would add to the disappointment of the unsuccessful operation. Despite this the youngest girl in the Steiff family asserted herself and show her parents that they had once again underestimated her ability.
Although at first it too Margarete Steiff a long time to finish her work, she also had to ask for help from the other Steiff women to complete all of it in time, she became a brilliant seamstress after a few years.
Keen to overcome her limitations and broaden her horizons Margarete Steiff also learned to play the zither, a guitar-like instrument where the strings do not extend beyond the sounding box. She became able to give lessons on the use of this instrument in later years.
At the age of 17 Margarete was forced to come to terms with the fact that her legs would never work and that she could never recover from the illness that had plagued her childhood. this focussed her on a career in sewing, one that she pursued with absolute determination. In 1874 Friedrich Steiff converted the ground floor of their house, converting the study into a dressmakers workshop.
Together with her sisters Marie and Pauline Steiff, Margarete began to perform sewing work at home. the workshop became well known in Giengen and the three young Steiff ladies became the first people in the town to buy their own sewing machine.
The list of customers for Steiff dresses became longer and longer. Although Margarete made all types of dresses, she much preferred making children's clothing.
Margarete Steiff, A Biography: Part 2
As a young adult Margarete Steiff had started a dressmaking company with her two older sisters. This was started in a converted study on the ground floor of the family home. After her two older sisters married, she was the only Steiff still dressmaking. A manufacturer at a local felt factory Wilhelm Adolf Glatz married into the Steiff family and employed Margarete. This family connection allowed her to still work from her home and employ assistants to replace her two sisters. Wilhelm Glatz was a distinguished businessman, who is credited with encouraging Margarete to run her own business.
Wilhelm and Margarete Steiff were a successful combination as the felt produced at Wilhelm's factory was used to create ladies petticoats and children's coats. Sales increased year on year. This transformed the first floor of the Steiff family home into a little factory.
Over the years Margarete's brother Fritz Steiff became father to six sons and of course Margarete was the favourite Aunt.
Members of the Steiff family have always noted the special relationships Margarete created with the children of her family. She seemed to have a gift for using humour to make children more at ease. This family atmosphere permeated throughout the little factory and the Steiff home. It has been noted that working there was like working with your best friends.
In 1880 the story of Steiff as a company really began. Margarete Steiff herself noticed a felt elephant in a fashion magazine and decided to make eight to give as Christmas presents. These were of course extremely beautiful and were gratefully received by all 8 recipients.
These hand made felt elephants soon became the talk of the factory floor. Everyone wanted one of Margarete's little creations. This prompted the elephant to become a stock item at the factory. Elephants were created whenever demand for dressed left sufficient time.
Margarete's brother Fritz Steiff came up with an idea to sell them at the market in Heidenheim, two sacks of the animals were sent with him to use in this experiment.
Soft toy animals had never been invented at this point, thus they were an instant success and completely sold out.
As Margarete clearly had a talent for design as well as production, she was asked to create other soft toy animals. She created a kitten, lifelike dogs and a little pink pig. The Steiff family workshop became a "factory for felt articles and toys".
Fritz Steiff continued to be the one to inspire his sister to create new and innovative designs. He arranged to exhibit the first Steiff articles in a display of export samples in Stuttgart in 1883. Every year the business expanded rapidly prompting new designs and new models. This little company quickly became more important to Margarete and Fritz than the dressmaking. To give an example of the rapid growth Margarete invested 1460 marks for felt in 1886, 3700 marks in 1888 and 5070 marks in 1890.
Fritz Steiff took over his fathers building company in 1888 and soon persuaded Margarete to move from her cramped little factory in the Steiff home into a house with business premises purpose built to her requirements. It had living space on the second floor where Margarete could see outside due to a large bay window. the soft felt toys were sold in the corner shop on the ground floor with its two display windows.
The firm that came to be called Steiff continued its positive growth for the years that followed. The first catalogue was produced in 1892. By this time the small felt animals which had originally only been elephants were not monkeys, a donkey, a camel, a horse, a mouse, a pig, a cat, a dog, a giraffe and a rabbit as well as elephants.
This small soft toy manufacturer was first entered in the commercial register as "Margarete Steiff, Filzwarenfabrik Giengen/Brenz" [Margarete Steiff, Felt goods factory Giengen/Brenz] on the 3rd March 1893.
Margarete worked on her passion with an iron will. In 1894 she was invited to St Gallen by a major toy dealer. Shortly afterwards, order started coming in from all over Germany. From Berlin to Rothenburg, and then from abroad.
When her brothers six sons reached adulthood she asked each of them to join the company. 5 of them were willing to do so and initially learned professions that suited their respective inclinations - designer, engineers and management experts. This was now truly a family run and managed business.
Leading up to Margaretes Death
The first representative began to present samples of Steiff products in 1894/95 - in addition to the goods produced by another company. The animals were also among those sold in Berlin businesses.
Richard Steiff, Fritz's second oldest son, joined the company in 1897.
Richard Steiff had always been close to his Aunt from childhood. He fitted in perfectly with the whole operation, he combined genuine business acumen with high levels of creativity. He had attended art school in Stuttgart before going to university in England.
Accompanied by another member of staff, Richard Steiff represented Steiff at the Leipzig trade fair, at the time the turn over of the company was 90000 marks.
Richards brothers, Franz, Otto, Hugo and Paul, then joined Steiff one after the other with varying responsibilities from sales to manufacturing technology. Margarete still kept track of the company as a whole.
Margarete left nothing to chance. Steiff was her company and her reputation. She made herself personally responsible for reviewing work routines, motivation and quality control. At this point she still made most of the prototypes herself and was extremely critical of the products that Steiff produced. This is part of how Steiff became the symbol of quality in the soft toy industry.
Margarete was well aware that her soft toy animals were sold for the purpose of entertaining children thus she imposed stringent requirements on the quality of products. Her motto was always "The best is just good enough for our children".
Correspondingly only the best, highest quality materials were used. Animals were initially stuffed with sheep's wool, which was then replaced with wood shavings in the 1890's.
Even in the first Steiff catalogue the filling material was described as "soft, light and pure" (no animal hair, sawdust or cork waste). The Steiff soft toy animals were first introduced to Europe and then America.
Unfortunately for Margarete her beloved brother Fritz Steiff passed away in 1900, after this it was her relationship with her nephews that gave her the strength to drive the business forward. Richard in particular introduced many new products and came up with lots of ideas for increased production and quality, though Margarete still made most of the models herself.
Steiff was such a success that the factory was moved in 1903 to a two-storey building made almost entirely from concrete and glass with a ramp for easy wheelchair access to the second floor. Margaret was driven to the factory every day. She checked the products and colours. She applied finishing touches with a spray gun and went to see the employees who stuffed and stitched the animals. Her dedication was always absolute.
In 1902, Richard Steiff developed a new type of soft toy; with jointed arms and legs and proper fur made from mohair plush and glass eyes. At first Margarete questioned whether there was a market for relatively expensive animals, she also originally considered bears a bit ungainly.
This was a huge risk for Steiff as this teddy bear was much more expensive than the other animals and if the bear did not sell its production and stock would have cost Steiff a fortune and damaged the company.
In spite of Margaretes reservations she allowed Richard Steiff to persuade her and the bear was produced, though without success initially. They were first displayed at the Leipzig trade fair when an American bought all 3000 of them at last minute.
Bear PB became a smash hit at the World Exhibition in St. Louis. 12000 bears were sold, Margarete and Richard each received a gold medal and the Grand Prix – the highest prize possible – was awarded to the company.
Production increased to 1.7 million toy animals between 1903 and 1907. Steiff now had 400 workers on premises and 1800 women working from home. The Jointed bear set off on his march of conquest in America. Later he was named “teddy bear” by US president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt in 1906.
In 1907 competition soon necessitated the implementation of new measures. Nobody wanted to become involved in a price war and the Steiff family started looking ways to let people know when they were buying a Steiff bear and not a lesser imitation.
Franz Steiff came up with the idea of riveting a button to one ear of each animal. The “Button in Ear” was born. This is the trademark of a real Steiff animal today, over 100 years later.
Steiff hit hard times in 1908 as the American economy became under pressure. Orders were cancelled and large quantities of finished bears were turned away.
Margarete went through the upswing and the crisis full of activity. She was growing noticeably frail though, and could often be seen sitting at her window, watching the comings and goings in the company from there. She seemed to know that her life was coming to an end.
Margarete Steiff was just 61 years old when she died on 9th April 1909. What had originally seemed to be a hopeless life became a shining example of what can be achieved with courage, strength, willpower and most of all heart.
The Steiff family, the staff and the people of Giengen found it difficult to get over her death.
Steiff the company continued on without her right through to today. They are an example to company the world over who are trying to create quality items.
Thanks to Steiffnews.com for the information needed to create this biography.
The creation of a Steiff animalHere at JustTeddies we are dedicated to telling the story of Steiff, weather its the biography of Margaret Steiff (founder), Richard Steiff (created the first teddy bear) or information as to how the magic of Steiff happens. This page is the latter.
This page gives an outline of how a Steiff animal is made.
Over 130 years ago in 1880, Margarete Steiff created the first ever soft toy animal, the first ever Steiff animal. She had noticed a pattern for an elephant in the magazine Modenwelt. The materials needed were felt, two 10cm long white bone threading needles, fleece, two black porcelain buttons, a little silk thread and a piece of colourful material. Needles and scissors were her only tools.
The Steiff production factory today is a very different mechanism all together in modern times. The production process used highly precise and advantaced machinery, the staff who number in the thousands are a completely organised in order to achieve maximum efficiency.
Though the production process may have changed, Steiff remains dedicated to the unmatched quality that has seen its name become the most recognised worldwide for soft toys. Steiff has never wavered from its motto "for children, only the best is good enough".
Over the past 130 years millions of children have decided to give Steiff animals a loving home and a friend for life.
Research & Development
At the forefront of every Steiff bear, animal or accessory is the design itself. This fundamental principal has not changed in 130 years. Richard Steiff often visited Stuttgart's Nill Zoo, this was the only way to study animals and get the appropriate real-life detail necessary, at the time. Today, Steiff designers travel as far as Kenya in order to study animals in their natural habitat in order to make the lifelike soft toy animals.
Once a design has been created materials must be chosen. Steiff are constantly pushing the boundaries of material design hence new styles of materials must be manufactured especially for production of a single item in some cases. Once all the necessary materials are available the prototype department produces a sample. This business process has also not changed in over 130 years.
Many Samples are made, using slightly different techniques and/ or interpreting the designs in different ways. The designer chooses a sample once they are satisfied and it is prepared for presentation to a committee of Steiff staff from various departments. All must approve for the product to go into production. Once the product is approved the final stage involves the development team, who must decide if they can effectively market this bear or animal. For example; does it use a new material? Is it created in a new way? does it represent a new style? etc.
If the development department is satisfied with the sample it is called a "hand-sample". It is given the "button in ear" as an official Steiff product and the sample ear tag denoting its status. When Steiff first began hand samples were given their own button or "Musterknopf" instead of a Steiff button. If one were to procure such a sample many years after its manufacture it would be worth a small fortune.
Up to ten identical copies of this hand sample are made, for various departments. These are given a tag with the words "type same" on it. These are used in various stage of the production as models. Then, just as 100 years ago, patterns are created. This was of course done tediously by hand taking hours back in 1890 but in modern times precision computer software creates the patterns to an incredible accuracy.
Once all the the equipment and materials are available in the Steiff factory. Even today this process takes months before production finally starts.
Production begins with cutting. As materials differ in density strength and elasticity so must the cutting techniques differ. Mohair for example has a long pile which might get damaged by some industrial machines so it is cut. Depending on the length of the mohair either manual or electrically assisted scissors are used. This is not a simple process as the weave of the mohair must not be damaged or bald spots can appear later in production.
Felt and velvet on the other hand are much easier materials to work with as they can simply be stamped out.
Obviously when cutting large fabrics, extensive and clear stencil marks must be imprinted onto the material. This is done using a metal plate to mark on the material all the necessary contours of the shapes required.
Once all of the parts for a piece are laid out they must be sewn together. Every Steiff bear is individually sewn at a sewing machine. Steiff bears are sewn "inside out" in order not to show the seams. this is much more complicated than it may seem. The pile must be carefully stroked into the seam while sewing.
If you can imagine that Steiff produces millions of soft toy animals and teddy bears each year. The speed at which the staff are able to create the bears is simply remarkable. Today, as 100 years ago, nothing is left to chance. Each step in the production stage is carefully planned and documented. This ensures quality control. Steiff bears are sewn to the same standards as a designer fur coat.
Once all the parts have been sewn, they are turned the right way round rather like a sock though we are sure you can imagine that the smaller the part the more difficult this task becomes.
In modern times the insides of the Steiff soft toy animals are filled with synthetic filling that is washable and hygienic in every circumstance. Some, the Steiff replica bears are still filled with excelsior, a wood wool originally used to stuff the bears when they were first produced all those years ago (pre 1950). The Steiff bears receive their voices at the same time as they are filled. The voice box is inserted into the middle of the bears body surrounded by the filling so that it cannot be seen or felt from the outside.
After the stuffing process has been completed the bear or animal is put together piece by piece and the final seams are sewn shut. Jointed bears have hard cardboard discs at the points to be jointed. Two interlocking points are joined with a split pin, in this way the bear or animals limbs and head can bee attached to the main body of the piece yet still move independently. The jointing techniques were first adopted for the "cute little bear" (roughly translated) range that began over 100 years ago.
The most important features of a bears expression are its nose, eyes and mouth. For this reason Steiff bears are hand stitched in these areas to give the precision necessary to create the perfect expression. Even the glass eyes are hand threaded into each Steiff bear.
The finishing touches are all that remains, these are applied by experts, with a sturdy hand and years of experience these staff members use air brushing to add highlights and shading to the finished bear. This is perhaps the most important stage of the process as one slip can ruin a bear.
Finally bells, bows, ribbons etc are all added to the finished bear. It is scrutinised by the quality control department and given a brushing down to get rid of any unwanted fluff.
Once this is completed the bear is given its "button in ear" marking it forever as a Steiff bear. A member of an elite family that grows every year.
Steiff bears from toys to a collectors item
Some of the great German brand names were created at the turn of the 20th century, Bosch and Rosenthal to name but a couple. Steiffs "button in ear" is a classic example of this German branding. It took more than 20 years for Stieff to decide on its trademark.
During these 20 years a unique product range was created that required the appropriate legal protection provided by a trademark.
Even in the early days of Steiff as a company, all soft toy animal designs were patented so that reproductions were illegal. This ensured that Steiffs customers received a unique item that could not be replicated.
One of the reasons Steiff bears grew in popularity so quickly was that Steiff had an exceptional marketing team that could take full advantage of all media outlets in order to advertise what was at the time a completely new and unique toy.
Steiff would create huge and elaborate showpieces at fairs in order to grab the attention of prospective buyers. For example they had a Noah's Ark theme in 1913 which consisted of a massive wooden ship with hundreds of Steiff soft toy animals all around it.
After World War 2, Steiff restarted its showpiece tradition. They have done over a hundred themes now including carnivals, once upon a time, underwater world, journey to the moon and many more.
Steiff being Steiff, released limited edition bears to become part of the showpieces. These were then and still are today very few in number.
One of the most expensive teddy bears of all time was sold at auction in 2002 and reached 156,240 euros.
This was a 40cm teddy bear made of brown tipped mohair; only a very small number were manufactured between 1926 and 1925.
Furthermore, in 2010 a one of a kind Steiff Harlequin from 1925 was sold for over £100,000.
Since 1980 Steiff have released a selection of limited edition steiff bears deliberately for certain markets.
Some bears are only available in the UK and Ireland for example. These become very desirable in other countries in the future.
Others like the Pepe (pictured) are available across the world so each country might only be allocated 10 or so bears.
About the Steiff museum
Come on, come in - to the wonderful world of Steiff.
Have you ever been eye to eye with a life-sized polar bear, giraffe or elephant? Or been on an exciting safari all over a world of soft toy animals? Never? Then it's about time!
Steiffs adventure museum in Giengen, Germany is the perfect place for any soft toy safari, voyage of discovery, or just to experience the most detailed, numerous and varied collection of soft toy animals ever created. There's even a replica of Mararette steiffs sewing room, to give all Steiff fans an idea of how this illustrious company started.
There is nothing nicer than watching children when they are enthralled. When they discover a new a fascinating world of Steiff bears and Steiff animals. Only at the Steiff museum can you see Steiff animals from all over the world.
Across the world there are places that have their own magic. They optimise tradition and historical importance. The Steiff museum is one of these special places. Visitor are sent on a travel through time; here, the creative spirit of Steiffs founder Margarete becomes wonderfully alive a tangible. Only at the Steiff museum can you look over the shoulder of the moving and turbulent history of the Steiff company in all its wonderful traditions and watch production demonstrations to experience the beautiful and extraordinary creations of today and tomorrow.
Steiff Product Numbering System
With the introduction of the first ever teddy bear as we know it in 1905 by Richard Steiff, a new numbering system was created so that every Steiff teddy bear could be described and identified by it.
This numbering system was used until 1968 when a more modern method took over. European article numbers or EAN numbers are given to each Steiff bear, they are used in the Steiff catalogues and printed on the tag of each bear or animal.
Steiff bears since the 1980's have had 6 digit numbers due to the shear number of variations and designs that Steiff have made over the last 130 years. Steiff began with a 4 digit system that could accurately describe each teddy bear or animal. This number had a comma after the 4th digit followed by a number or 2 describing clothing variations or special information.
If we use Dante (pictured here) as an example, if he was a Steiff bear made pre 1950 he would be given the first number 5, as he is jointed. The second number would be 3, which relates to the material used, in this case 3 means mohair. The third and forth digits relate the size of the bear. Dante is 30cm so the third and fourth digit would be 3 and 0. So Dante would have had the EAN number "5330," in the middle of the 20th century.
He would likely have had a couple of numbers after the comma such as 1 which indicates that he is stuffed. He would redoubtably been given a number for the bell around his neck as well. There would also be the letter G at the end which stands for Green as Dante is green tipped.