Steiff Bears and Their Makers

Steiff bears have long been crowned as a pioneer in the toy industry and as one of if not the best in the world. They have come a really long way and are brimming with so much history that they can be considered an heirloom and treasure of sorts to. Collections of these abound all over the world which no longer comes as a surprise.

But have you ever wondered how these toys came to be? Who were the people behind the brand? Let’s all find out with this little trip down memory lane.


The founder of the company, Margarete, as what her peers would often refer to her, was born on the 24th of July in 1847 to parents Friedrich and Maria in Giengen, Germany. She was the third in four children with two older sisters and a younger brother.

At the age of one and a half, Margarete was found to have polio lending her feet paralyzed and confining her into a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Nonetheless, she grew up to be a happy and positive child.

Always trying to overcome her limitations and do what her heart desires, Margarete wished to attend a sewing school. Her father Friedrich objected at first, not wanting to cause her any frustrations, but eventually agreed in the end. Margarete proved herself and by age of 17 became a very skilled seamstress. In 1874, her father converted one of the house’s rooms into a dressmaker’s workshop.

Margarete needed help from her sisters, Marie and Pauilne to run the shop. They were in fact the first people in their two to buy a sewing machine. Word got out and soon the girls became quite popular.

In 1880, she saw an elephant out of a magazine and fashioned a pin cushion made of felt out of it. She sold eight of these. However, they were played with instead of dotted with pins as children found them to be quite charming. People then began asking more of it and soon Margarete was sewing plush toys. From here the brand was born.


Bear 55PBIn 1897, Richard, Margarete’s nephew, entered the company. He was a graduate of applied arts whose animal sketches were the basis of many of Steiff’s toys. He was said to have a certain fondness for bears that in 1902, he designed the “Bear 55PB”, the very first teddy bears the world has ever laid eyes on.

Although initially hesitant, Margarete allowed Richard to present the Steiff bears at the Leipzig toy trade fair where an American businessman saw them and ordered 3,000 pieces, all of which he brought to the United Stated where it had received massive success.

Add and Retain Value of Vintage Steiff Bears

rare Steiff bearVintage Steiff bears rule the top ten list of the world’s most sought after toy collectibles. With its interesting history and designs that range from fun, catchy, classic, poignant, minimal and all around extravagant, they are no doubt items to behold. These toys are being traded and auctioned all over the globe. Some of them are pretty affordable while others can be exceedingly expensive. Of course, that will depend on several factors like design, condition and exclusivity.

If you own one, a few or an entire room of vintage Steiff teddy bears, it is but understandable as to why you will want to retain or even add value to it. After all, collecting them is not just a hobby. For others, it’s an investment and a form of business. Whatever your reasons for your collection, below are ways on how you can add and retain the value of your stuffed teddies.

  • Repair when needed. 

Because most vintage pieces have lived for so long, others a couple of decades, some of them may already suffer from damages. There could be a loose button eye, a torn limb, an undone hem, a detached ribbon or flattened filling. When such damages are deemed present, take them to the experts for repair. Do not attempt to DIY your way through it because you might cause more harm than good. Remember that these toys are made of a different set of materials from long ago. It is best to leave it at expert hands.

  • Clean out dirt and bugs. 

Likewise if the toy is filled with dust, grime, dirt or worse with bugs, hand it to a toy repair shop once again. Have the toy refurbished and cleaned. After all, no collector will want an item that’s too dirty beyond repair. Plus, a bug infestation is never a good sight. That could even spread out and wipe your whole toy collection! Act on it fast.

  • Put them in good storage. 

Invest in quality storage for your vintage Steiff bears. Choose one that is not easily penetrated by dirt and one that keeps them at harm’s way from children and pets. Shelving would be great as well as glass door cabinets.

    • Be updated and knowledgable.

The price and value of vintage Steiff bears can fluctuate and change. Apart from condition, age and exclusivity, the demand can play a huge role too. It is best if you keep yourself informed about the market to better rally up the values.

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