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The story of steiff teddy bears

steiff teddy bears

24 JULY 1847 - THE BIRTH OF MARGARETE STEIFF

  Margarete was born in Giengen, near Ulm, Germany n 24 July 1847.  Margarete was the third of four children. Friedrich Steiff, her father, was a builderHer mother was Maria Margarete Steiff.



1849 - TRAGEDY STRIKES

Aged just 18 months, Margarette endured a high fever and consequently, contracted polio.   She underwent many tests and attempts at treatment, but without success.  The family were forced to accept that Margarette would be wheelchair bound for life.

1858 - EARLY CHALLENGES

Margarete was born with an indomitable spirit.  She was determined to lead a normal life. Her brothers and sisters wheeled her to school in a handcart, whilst a teacher carried her upstairs into the classroom. Ignoring the pain in her right hand, Margarete attended sewing lessons, initially contrary to her father's wishes. At the age of 17, she finally concluded her training as a seamstress.

1862 - THE REALISATION OF A DREAM

 
Marie and Pauline, Margarete's elder sisters, opened a dressmaker's shop where Margarete worked part-time. When Pauline and Marie left their home town 8 years later, Margarete stayed to work their on her own.

1874 - HER OWN LITTLE WORKSHOP

 
Margarete's father converted the family home, setting up a workroom - a little dressmaking workshop. From her very first earnings, Margarete invested in a sewing machine. The flywheel on the right-hand side made its operation difficult, so for Margarete to operate, she had the ingenious idea of simply turning the machine around.

1877 - SETTING UP IN BUSINESS

  Margarete's cousin's husband, Adolf Glatz, counselled her to go into business on her own. So - Margarete opened a felt clothing business to sell, not just clothes, but also handmade household articles. Soon she was able to take on a number of seamstresses.

1879 - THE FAMOUS "ELEFäNTLE" IS BORN

  On December 8th of 1879, in a magazine called "Modenwelt", Margarete noticed a pattern for a small fabric elephant.  Using this design, she sewed a pincushion shaped small elephant, the "Elefäntle". Before long, these delightful little fabric animals proved to be very popular as children's toys.

1880 - THE BIRTH OF A FAMILY COMPANY

  Margarete Steiff GmbH was officilly 'born' in this year. The "Elefäntle" soon became the company's first big-selling product. Margarete's younger brother, Fritz, managed to sell many of them at the nearby Heidenheim market. Six years later, over 5,000 elephants had been sold. At this point, Margarete was inspired to design many other fabric animals.

steiff teddy bears

1892 - ONLY THE BEST IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR CHILDREN

 The first illustrated Steiff catalogue soon appeared, illustrating the wide range of available products. The original elephants were joined by donkeys, monkeys, horses, camels, mice, dogs, pigs, cats, rabbits and giraffes. The catalogue also emphasised Margarete's motto: "Only the best is good enough for children".

1893 - THE FIRST TRADE FAIR

 On 3 March 1893, Margarete entered the company into the commercial register as "Margarete Steiff, felt toy factory Giengen/Brenz". The toys were exhibited for the first time at the Leipzig Toy Fair. Margarete now employed a workforce of four seamstresses and ten outworkers.





1902 - THE TEDDY BEAR IS BORN

 Richard designed "Bear 55 PB", the world's first toy bear with jointed and legs and arms. In his search for a suitable material for the fur, Richard found the dyeable and cuddly mohair plush, made by the Schulte pile-fabric weaving mill in Duisburg.

1903 - TEDDY BEAR LAUNCHED TO THE WORLD

 Margarete herself was rather sceptical, but permitted Richard to exhibit his bear at the Leipzig Toy Fair. The breakthrough came when a businessman from America discovered the bear and ordered 3,000. The bear enjoyed unforseen levels of sales in the US, where, from 1906 onwards, it was sold under the name "Teddy bear" - after the US President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.

steiff teddy bears

1904 - "BUTTON IN EAR"

 The trademark "Steiff - Button in Ear" was created by Franz Steiff, another of Margarete's nephews. The idea of this trademark was to fend off the huge numbers of cheap imitations and to render unmistakeable the company's high-quality products. Steiff subsequently won the Grand Prix at the World Exhibition in St. Louis.




1907 - THE COMPANY GOES INTERNATIONAL

  In 1907 974,000 Teddy bears were manufactured by 400 employees and 1,800 outworkers - making a total of approximately 1,700,000 pieces. The range was constantly expanded.

9 MAY 1909 - LARGER THAN LIFE

At the age of 61, Margarete Steiff died of pneumonia. This was a tough blow for the whole Steiff family, her friends and her employees. Margarete's nephews took over the management and running of the company. Margarete Steiff died in the knowledge that she had established a concept that was larger than life



1919 - HARD TIMES

 During the difficult war and post-war years, Steiff was forced to adapt its range accordingly, with substitute fabric being employed. A kind of cellulose material was employed for what was known as the "Paper Teddy bear". Imaginatively, toys made of domestic wood were added to the collection.



1947 -  A NEW CHAPTER

 The company started up again after the end of the Second World War. Just 12 months later, Steiff has a workforce of nearly 1,000, which was to double just  five years later.

steiff bears

1951 - MECKI IS LAUNCHED TO THE WORLD

 Mecki, the hedgehog was the mascot of German TV magazine Hörzu. He was a character from the Diehl Brothers' puppet films and was produced under licence by Steiff as a doll. The Mecki doll soon became a best seller throughout the world.

1953 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEDDY BEAR

 The famous Teddy bear celebrates his 50th birthday. The "Jackie" anniversary bear was launched with a whole new design - as an attractive baby bear with a hint of a navel.



1984 - PETSY, A CHILDREN'S FAVOURITE

  Petsy, a firm favourite with kids, captured the market and the hearts of Steiff collectors around the world.

1992 - THE STEIFF CLUB

 On April 1st, the Steiff Club was established as an organisation for fans and collectors of Steiff teddy bears and animals.  The club featured exclusive Club benefits and Club editions.



2005 - 125 YEARS OF STEIFF

  The new Steiff Adventure Museum "Die Welt von Steiff" opened its doors for the first time in 2005, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the company, Steiff has created more than 21,000 different animals over the last 132 years. The crowning glory of the museum is the priceless 125 Karat Teddy bear edition.



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