Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum
made by: Steiff
Limited Editon 2000, USA Exclusive
construction: 5 jointedMohair
size: 8.5" standing
worn leather paw pads (see photos), no hang tags
packing/delivery: $7.50 flat rate
Late in 1902 the founders of the what become the Ideal Toy company introduced the first American 'Teddy Bear', a stuffed toy. Earlier Margarete Steiff, a disabled German seamstress with a soft toy factory in Giengen, had added bears to her catalogue. During the same year, 1902, Steiff introduced a bear made of mohair that was jointed to appear as natural as possible. This bear was based upon a design by her nephew, who sketched the bears at the Stuttgart zoo.
Sadly this product was not a hit on the European market. The bears might have been discontinued except for an American toy buyer who knew his market. On the last day of the 1903 Leipzig Spring Fair, Hermann Berg, a buyer from the New York firm Geo Borgfeldt & Co, visited the Steiff stand looking for something new. To the amazement of Margarete Steiff and her family, he ordered 3000 bears.
By 1904 the Steiff bear had become an American hit. In total 12,000 jointed toys were sold by the end of that year. Between then and the First World War Steiff sold literally millions of bears, with their trademark button in the left ear, to the United States, Germany and Britain, as the teddy bear became the latest toy craze.
The work of the people employed by Steiff - still numbering around 1,000 as in the past - continues to be primarily in the handicraft tradition, The number of operations required to produce each Steiff animal averages more than 30. More than 1.5 million Steiff animals are produced annually. The main production facility is still located in the German town of Giengen/Brenz.