Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Steiff Bear
Q: I can remember playing with my adorable 3 1/2-inch-tall Steiff jointed teddy bear since my childhood in the 1960s. My mother thinks she had it as a child. It has a silver Steiff button in his ear. I've been told that the way the tail in the last "F" in the word "Steiff" trails down and back under the printed letters helps date my bear. Can you tell me how old my bear is?

A: The button with the trailing "F" was used by Steiff from 1905 until at least the 1940s. Some old stock buttons were also used from 1950 to 1952. So your bear is at least 57 years old, and possibly older. The Margarete Steiff Toy Co. was founded by Margarete Steiff (1847-1909) in 1880. Its first catalog was published in 1892. The company, established with the help of Margarete's brother Fritz and eventually Fritz's children, was originally devoted to the production of felt toys. In the early 1900s, Margarete's nephew, Richard, an accomplished artist and longtime lover of bears, convinced his aunt to produce a jointed mohair bear he designed. Mohair is the wool from an Angora goat and is a very durable natural fiber that requires little maintenance. Margarete agreed and when the toy was introduced at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1903, the overall reception was mixed; some even ridiculed the toy. The teddy bear, of course, became one of the world's most popular toys.

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Anonymous said...

I wish when someone wrote to ask you about an item of theirs, you would automatically also give the value, even if they didn't ask, as the rest of us would like to know what the item is worth after seeing a picture and reading about it. Thanks so much!

Terry Kovel said...

We try to give a value for most items but sometimes it is impossible to tell from a photograph. There are all sorts of small bears, some that hold perfume bottles. Prices vary so rather than give too high an appraisal we omit it. We will try harder to determine prices. Thanks for your comment. Happy New Year.

Kea said...

Dear Steiff Bear Owners, Please be careful when you allow an "expert" to appraise your bear. Don't let the bear out of your sight. I did, several years ago, for just a few moments, at a locally hosted (in a small town) antiques appraisal event. I went there from out of town and arrived shortly before closing time. The first appraiser I saw showed great interest in my little Steiff bear (which I'd had since 1951). He commented with excitement that my bear still had its button. He offered to examine the bear more carefully while I perused the other exhibit tables. Within just a couple of minutes I noticed that this "expert" was packing his things and leaving in haste. I went to his table to say goodbye, and to get my bear. He rushed out. My bear was there on the table. Only after he'd gone did I realize the Steiff button was no longer in my bear's ear. I looked everywhere with the help of the event organizers. Unfortunately, I've concluded that this "expert" was dishonest and stole the button from me! I felt and still feel violated. He put a bad name on the appraiser's profession. I respect appraisers and have never known of another case like this but suppose it could happen again. I also don't like the feeling that I cannot trust an "expert" with my cherished belongings. Please let this be a warning to all. Thank you Kovels for allowing me to post this comment and for all the GOOD you do!

Dianna S said...

I have a 19" bear (looking very similar to the little one mentioned here) with moveable arms and legs and growls that I think is a Steiff but cannot find anything to indicate so (he is in good shape but worn with love). My uncle gave it to me in the 50's. He used it at his photo shop while photographing children. Is this possible?

Anonymous said...

I recently bought (for a dime) a very little, very old jointed bear but it has no button...and I'm not a collector, so I just tucked it away not knowing if it is worthless or not, and maybe someday I'll be able to find out.