Since the company’s beginnings in Giengen, Germany in 1888, the Steiff Company have been known as makers of cuddly toys. Although they have many cuddly toys that have been modelled after different animals, it is the steiff teddy bear ranges that have become objects of interest to collectors. The teddy bears are the company’s most popular cuddly toy and have been since it was first designed in 1903. The idea of making a cuddly toy in the shape of a baby bear came to Richard Steiff, a nephew of the founder of the company, after he had visited a travelling circus whilst on a trip to America in 1902. In time for the Leipzig Spring Toy Fair, Richard had designed and the Steiff Company had made cuddly toys in the shape of baby bears.
Towards the end of 1902, President Teddy Roosevelt had gone on a hunting trip in Mississippi and had drawn a lot of attention to his trip by refusing to shoot a baby bear which, the American people mistook for a love of baby bears and they too then started to love baby bears. A candy store owner from Brooklyn saw this as an opportunity to make some money and so got his wife to make some baby bear cuddly toys which he would sell as Teddy Bears. Although his sales of bears went well, the Steiff bears which had appeared on the market at the same time, causing them also to be known as teddy bears, were of a far better design. The store owner continued to have his wife make bears but got her to change the design to the same one as the Steiff bears and this, allowed him to make enough money to be able to give up his shop and create the now famous Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
Steiff also continued to make their bears with the same design and by 1915, several other toy companies had also started to make teddy bears, following the same design as the original Steiff bears. Through the years between then and now, Steiff have continued to make and sell their bears and although they have kept to roughly their same design, they have made several different versions which, have caused collectors to try and own one of each different one.
So, although the Steiff Company may not have named their bears teddy bears, their original ones were called Friend Petz, it is their design for the cuddly toy which is now famous and sells to both children and adults alike. If you are looking to buy a teddy bear but feel it is time that you owned one that was made by the original designers, you need to look for a Steiff bear which can easily be identified by a tag which is placed in the ear of all the bears they make. These Steiff bears, as well as being available in some stores, are also available online where there are a variety of different ones you can choose from.