When we talk stuffed animal toys, nothing quite compares to Steiff bears. They’re an icon and a classic for a reason with more than a century’s worth of hard evidence. But as to how that came to be and why can be a mystery to many and so we’re here to establish some facts.
A polio victim, Margarete Steiff spent most of her life on a wheelchair but this never hindered the young lady from working and reaching for her dreams. At a young age, she persuaded her father to allow her to attend sewing classes. She enjoyed it so much that she wanted to pursue being a seamstress. Together with her two sisters, they opened a dress shop in town which ran for several years. As her sisters soon married, Margarete slowly inherited the shop on her own.
One find day, she came across an issue of Modenwelte magazine which bore a pattern of an elephant fabric, the inspiration to the “elephantle” known today as the very first Steiff toy. But contrary to what many might think, she did not intend for them to be toys. In fact she sold them around the neighborhood as fancy pincushions. Later she noticed the kids playing with them which gave her the idea to open up a plush manufacturing company. The first designs were fashioned after cats, dogs, mice and the like, all of which were an instant hit in the market elevating the brand at a pedestal.
The company may have been established in 1880 but it wasn’t until 1994 when the world first laid eyes on the Steiff bears. After just a few years in the company, Richard, Margarete’s nephew, introduced the idea of the “PB55″, a plush animal toy in the likes of a bear. Richard has always had a fascination for the animal and often sketched them. The toy he designed was 5 jointed and the earliest and first teddy bear there ever was. The toys were debuted at a fair in town where an American businessman came across them, ordered 3,000 pieces and brought them to the US where it further caught fire and earned the “teddy” moniker after the infamous account of President Roosevelt refusing to shoot a cub.
Since then, Steiff bears have become a classic and successfully inscribed themselves in the hearts of billions worldwide for more than a century and counting.