Steiff was founded in 1877 by Margarete Steiff. The first items she sold were hand made garments and household articles for her newly formed ready-to-wear felt clothing line.
In 1880, Steiff came out with her first stuffed animal, a felt elephant that was made to be used as a pincushion. The elephant became very popular amongst children who loved to play with it.
In 1886, 5,170 elephants were sold and other animals were added to the production. Fritz, Margarete's brother joined Margarete and became the sales manager for Steiff.
In 1892, Steiff came out with their first product catalogue, to show customers their new products.
In 1893, Steiff attending their first trade show, registering themselves as a toy company.
In 1895, Steiff established business with Harrods in London.
In 1897, Richard Steiff (Margarete's nephew) joined the company.
Richard attended art school in Stuttgart. He had always been interested in aminals and would spend hours and hours at the Nill zoo drawing them. These drawings became the basis for the new Steiff products and in 1902, Richard created the first Steiff bear. The bear was first sold in 1903 at the Leipzig Spring Fair. During this time, president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was a passionate bear hunter and Clifford Berryman, a well-known artist started drawing Theodore "Teddy" with bears in the background. This soon became Teddy's bear, which then soon became the name Teddy Bear. In 1903, Steiff sold over 3,000 Steiff Teddy Bears.
In 1904, Franz Steiff (Margarete's other nephew) created the idea of putting a button in the ear of each stuffed animal to tell the difference between the real Steiff and the imitation Steiff. The first "button in ear" was an elephant, but later became the Steiff name. During this year, Steiff produced 12,000 bears.
In 1909, at the age of 61, Margarete Steiff died at her home. Her nephews continue to run the company today.
Click here to see more Steiff.
Reed & Barton