Steiff bears & animals

With the help of her nephew Richard, Margarete Steiff established the Steiff company in 1877, devoted to the production of mohair animals and stuffed bears.


Appolonia Margarete Steiff was born in Giengen 24th July 1847, the third of four children. She had two older sisters and a younger brother. Margarete was a very lively and well-built child. She led a carefree life until she became ill with polio when she was 1 and half years old. She was destined never to walk and to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Her mother found this very difficult to bear. She would have to care for her daughter for as long as she lived. Her daughter would never be able to take on the role of housewife and mother and, at the time, it seemed as though she had absolutely no prospects for the future.


However, she did not allow her infirmities to dampen her industrious spirit. She became an accomplished seamstress with her own dressmaking company. The young entrepreneur would collect remnant pieces of felt from the dresses and turn them into animals for the children to play with in her neighborhood. It was a felt elephant pincushion that became a neighborhood favorite and was put into larger production in 1880.


After she founded the Steiff company, her nephew Richard convinced her that a joined bear should be the focus of the product line, which was first presented at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903. Richard had observed the grizzly bears at the Stuttgart Zoo and thought a mohair version would be a prime product. The bears' acceptance was mixed, and they were even ridiculed by some as "stuffed misfits". However, at the conclusion of the fair, an American confectioner from New York ordered 3,000 bears on the spot. By 1908, close to a million Steiff bears had been sold.

Margarete worked on her success with an iron will, but a warm-hearted atmosphere always prevailed in spite of this. The production volume increased to 1.7 million toy animals between 1903 and 1907. There were 400 people working on the premises, another 1,800 women were employed as home workers. The jointed bear set off on his march of conquest in America. And he owed his later name "Teddy bear" (since 1906) to none other than President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.

Steiff today

Margarete was 61 years old when she died on 9th April 1909. What at the beginning seemed to be a hopeless life with out any prospects, Margarete became a shining example of what can be achieved.

Today, Steiff continues to produce a variety of plush and mohair animals, but it is the bear that dominates the company's current production and the international secondan collector's market.

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Steiff value and price guide

What's your Steiff worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
rare large early steiff teddy bear Rare Large Early Steiff Teddy Bear 10/2021 $4 659.00
gorgeous 24 in steiff bear gracie Gorgeous 24 In Steiff Bear Gracie 11/2021 $4 500.00
1914 rare 8 steiff puck felt character doll w button 1914 Rare 8 Steiff Puck Felt Character Doll W Button 10/2021 $4 385.00
early miniature steiff 1905 jointed 9 1 2 white bear w Early Miniature Steiff 1905 Jointed 9 1 2 White Bear W 09/2021 $1 999.99
steiff teddy bear Steiff Teddy Bear 11/2021 $1 950.00
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices12/2021$-.--

Steiff forum

"Ask questions or share your stories." - John, Fabtintoys

Doll forum temporarily closed... Sorry for the inconvenience (9 September 2021). Scroll down the comments to see if you can find answers you're looking for.

Comments (6)
Donna - February 6, 2021
My husband got this one for me a long time ago
Take a look here for some prices: Steiff Klein Archie.
Sue - December 29, 2012
I live in Rosewood Qld and am trying to buy a studio steiff bear wondering if you could help me thank you Sue
Hello Sue, well there are lots of studio steiffs for sale on eBay, so thats your best bet. Otherwise try to locate Steiff stores in Australia by searching on for example Google for: steiff bear stores australia. Hope this helps a bit.
Diane - August 25, 2012
I have an Owl Puppet that looks very much like: "1950 vintage owl hand puppet mohair plush doll" posted on this site ($49.99); it has the black "hair" puffs where "ears" would be...HOWEVER, the lower part of the "wings" has tangerine color felt stitched into the seam. Inside this puppet appears to be original stitching and a fabric tag (seemingly original) is sewn into the side under the Owl's left wing -- it is quite worn and cannot be read. Does anyone know the age of this puppet and whether felt sewn into the seam at the lower part of the wings is "original" ? Also, any idea about value? Thank you!!!
Tori - February 2, 2011
I have a bear that looks just like that but I don't know if it's a steiff or not. It doesn't have an ear tag. Does someone know any other way to tell if it's a Steiff?
Chris - November 20, 2010
I have a Steiff bear, given to me as a child in 1962. It's on wheels, about 20" tall by 24", with a pull ring that makes it growl. Sadly, the ear tag is long gone, but other than that, it's in excellent condition.I'm looking for info., i.e. what's it worth? Any ideas on how to find out more about it would be greatly appreciated.
I think it's best to first find out which bear you have, because Steiff made many different ones, so you can check for example use Google images to determine which one you have... Hope this helps a bit!
Sue - August 18, 2010
My brother-in-law just purchased a steiff elephant on wheels that is very old and in great condition. I can't seem to find any information on it. The tag number is 1360.2 If you have any idea please send information to my e-mail address. It is made of wool and cotton. Thank you, Sue.