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Early Vintage Steiff Teddy Bears

Steiff Bear

At the same time as the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. was making plush bears in Brooklyn, New York Teddy Bears were also being made in Germany by Margarete Steiff.

Confined to a wheelchair at an early age with polio, she had become an expert seamstress making children's clothe. In 1880 she formed a mail order business making stuffed toys.

The first was a elephant then a bear doll. In 1903 Hermann Berg, a toy buyer purchased 3,000 Teddy Bears for the George Borgfeldt Department Store in New York, NY.

Steiff bears were so popular that production rose annually from 12,000 in 1903 to 975,000 in 1908. Below are just a few of the many early old Steiff Teddy Bears.

Eddie 1903-1905 Steiff
A blank nickel plated button in the left ear of "Eddie" represents the now famous trademark of early antique Steiff teddy bears. Later it was stamped with an elephant logo then "Steiff" in May of 1905. Features of Eddie include rounded ears placed wide apart, small wooden shoe button eyes, leather squeakers or noise maker, long curved arms, beige felt foot pads, rounded head, long muzzle and humped back.

Oscar 1904-1905 Steiff
Oscar was created by Richard Steiff in 1904. Oscar had metal rods which were a system of movement in the arms and legs patented by Stieff in 1905. Features Oscar the antique steiff teddy bear include ears made of plush material, wooden shoe button eyes painted black, voice box growlers, excelsior stuffing, large pointed feet, inverted V mouth, humped back, long curved arms, fox like molded nose, black thread is used for claws, long curved paws and beige plush mohair.

Friend Petz 1903-1905 Steiff
The vintage Steiff bear, Friend Petz was a shaggy plush beige mohair teddy bear steiff. This Steiff creation became less like a Steiff teddy and more like a bear doll. Friend Petz ha swivel joint system, a voice box and rounder features. Other features included large flat ears that sit low on the side of the head, shoe button eyes, clipped mohair plush muzzle, long narrow feet, spoon like paws and long tapered muzzle.

Maximilian 1905 Steiff
Named Maximilian by an early Steiff teddy bear owner. Maximilian shared many of the features of Friend Petz except a smaller hump and had a larger rounded muzzle. Additional features included unique shape and angle of the ears, all pads had dark brown felt, thin ankles and narrow feet, plush curly cinnamon mohair and black wooden shoe button eyes.

Bobby 1908 Steiff
Bobby the vintage Steiff bears were equipped with a leather muzzle and leash. It was an accessory inspired by dancing bears that performed in many villages of central Europe. Many new features include small wooden shoe button eyes painted black, squeaker mechanism voice box, new Steiff trademark button, large feet, black thread claws, long and tapered arms, curved paws, inverted V-shaped mouth, small rounded ears positioned well apart and light brown plush mohair

Othello 1912 Steiff
Othello were black vintage Steiff bears produced for the British market in 1912. Othello was marketed in five different sizes in either short or long plush mohair. The long mohair Othello Steiff bears are rare, only 494 were made. Additional features include large ears, black shoe button eyes is set on a circle of orange felt which made the eyes more prominent, large feet with beige felt and long tapered arms.

Louise 1921 Steiff
Production of Steiff Teddy Bears ceased during World War I. The Steiff factory produced ammunition, airplane parts and gas masks for horses. After WWI the Steiff factory began producing bears like "Louise". Louise was a shaggy white plush mohair vintage Steiff bear that today is rare and collectible. Features included large rounded ears, clear glass eyes painted brown on the back with black pupils (all Steiff Bears after 1921 had glass eyes), large feet, thin ankles, short legs and long protruding muzzle.

Happy 1926 Steiff
An example of this vintage Steiff bear named Happy sold for over $86,000 in 1989. Happy had a squeaker mechanism and brown tipped beige plush mohair fur. Large rounded ears were set wide apart. Happy had glass eyes, large feet with narrow pads, long arms with curved paws, large head and protruding muzzle.

Teddy Baby 1930 Steiff
"Teddy Baby" was advertised as a life like comical year bear cub with a friendly face produced in different sizes, materials and colors. He remained in production till 1950 and was a very popular vintage Steiff toys. Teddy Bear's profile was unusually curved, s-shaped arms, flat feet, pointed muzzle, blue leather collar and an open mouth.

Jackie-Baby 1953 Steiff
After 50 years Steiff produced "Jackie-Baby" on the company's 50th birthday. Jackie-Baby was a bear cub and sold in three sizes with the most popular being the 15 inch version. Replicas were produced by Steiff in 1990, 1989 and 1986. This bear had beige mohair clipped around the nose and mouth. Jackie-Baby had an unusual pink stitch that ran across the dark brown nose.

Original Teddy 1990 Steiff
Based on Steiff's popular 1905 Teddy Bear the 1990 Original Teddy was made in various colors and sizes. This Stieff Teddy Bear is still produced today. It fur was honey colored long mohair, eyes were brown plastic with black pupils, ears were small, its muzzle was protruding, short legs, realistic feet, round head and a straight back rather than curved.

Original Teddy Steiff Bears

Pair Of Original Steiff Teddy Bears

Early Steiff bears are so valuable that many fakes have been produced over the last 100 years. Many were reproduced the old way, are worn and well stuffed. Original stuffing would have been strong and hard. With years of use stuffing would be softened and moved around. Wear is often faked and look smooth in rounded areas. Wear and smell should be consistent with a bear being played with. Fake bears are often made with unusual colors. Labels are often not there or partially there. Most fake Steiff bears were made in the early 1900s.

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