You could pay over a million dollars for a Steiff stuffed animal if you wanted one of the very rare ones but the story of the first Steiff toys is what makes them so interesting to me. It was started in 1880 by Margarete Steiff. Margarete had an illness when she wasn’t even two years old that left her with paralyzed legs and painful right arm. She was a fearless little girl, taken to school by her family and neighborhood friends in a hay cart. She had to be carried upstairs to the classroom.
Her sisters had a tailoring business and Margarete worked there after receiving her training as a seamstress. When her sisters left the business, her father converted the home into a shop for her. She purchased her first sewing machine with her first profits and had it altered so she could use it with her less painful arm. She ran her own business that eventually had several other seamstresses. She made clothing and items for the home. One day she made her first pin cushion shaped like an elephant.
Children loved the pincushions shaped like elephants, making them the world’s first plush toys. Soon she had sold over 5,000 of them and made other types of stuffed animals as well. Her nephews eventually entered her business and helped to develop the company further. Her big breakthrough came with a large order of her stuffed bears to an American company who dubbed them Teddy Bears, named after Theodore ”Teddy“ Roosevelt, one of our presidents.
The Steiff toys were created with fine materials and with a focus on high-quality construction. As other companies began to make similar products, the Steiff company developed the Steiff – button in the ear to distinguish it from others. New Steiff toys are cherished by children worldwide today but some of the older ones are sold for thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Check out this site to see some of the most expensive ones.
The museum for the Steiff company is in Germany. If you want to see what a visit to this museum would be like check this out.