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Culture

The Stuff that Bears are Made of

From a felt elephant to a mohair Teddy Bear - the story of 100 years of the Steiff button-in-ear Teddies.

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A royal Teddy all dressed up in a platinum cape for the 100th anniversary of Steiff.

Lovable, huggable, coveted and a source of comfort to lonely kids and broken hearts - the button-in-ear Steiff teddies turn 100 this year. And the German town of Giengen in Baden-Würrtemberg, the birthplace of the furry bears, is gearing up to celebrate the stuffed creations of the Margarete Steiff company.

Today, Steiff produces the widest range of stuffed animals in the world. Last year alone, the Baden-Würrtemberg company sold around 1,5 million plush toys. Every third toy was a teddy bear.

When in 1877 Margarete Steiff along with her sister Pauline started a felt store in Giengen on the river Brenz, little did she imagine that one day she would have not just children but also adults around the world coveting her teddy bears.

Felt Elephant and Button-in-ear

The phenomenal success of Steiff didn’t begin with the famous Teddy Bear, but with a felt elephant, which Margarete Steiff gifted her sister-in-law for Christmas in 1880.

At the time the soft elephant used as a pin cushion became a popular toy with children. 596 felt elephants sold at the market fair in Giengen.

In 1904 Margarete Steiff informed her customers by letter: "The trademark (elephant with S-shaped trunk on a little nickel button) will now be fastened without exception in the left ear of every piece. Legal protection for this way of attachment is applied for ."

The trademark application was granted on May 14, 1905 . The button-in-ear not only acts as a trademark, but also as a quality brand.

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