Steiff was founded in 1880 with the sale of Margarete Steiffs’ fabric elephants. However, it was to truly make its mark in 1902 following the birth of the mohair plush bear which had jointed arms and legs. In fact, since then, it became the template for all Steiffs bears. Also, it was adopted by the Americans as teddy bears after the USA President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, and proceeded to sell under that name as from 1906 onwards.
In order to fend off low-priced imitations, Steiff established itself as a leading maker of cuddly bears for both children and adults.
If you are looking to buy a timeless item such as an original Steiff antique bear, it is important that you consider a number of factors which will affect your purchase. These include:
Age: the antique bear’s age will affect its present, past and also its future value, together with its state and size. The value of pre-1950’s bears has increased, with their prices dropping the closer towards the current day they are owing to their very few numbers.
Condition: all antique bears are categorized as “used”. However, they will all differ in condition when it comes to how well they have been taken care of as well as their age. Their current state will affect the price considerably.
Type: Steiff bears are made in several different types, ranging from small bears to huge, to special versions and one-off runs which are no longer there. Their cost will be determined by the bear type.
Size – Steiff bears differ in size. This is due to different types as well as varying designs, for instance with teddy bear arms and legs being shortened over the years. Initial bears were quite huge and this will obviously affect purchase cost as well as shipping.
Age – the antique bear’s current cost and also its future value will be affected, together with its state and size. The value of the pre-1950s bears has risen, with prices dropping the nearer towards the present day they are owing to their very few numbers available.
Price: in the year 2000 a commemorative 1912 Titanic Mourning bear fetched £91,750 at auction. Since the value of antique and old limited edition Steiff bears is high, prices change depending on the condition and age particularly.
Antique Steiff Bears
With the high value placed on antique bears, it is not a wonder there are numerous imitation bears in the market. In fact, some have been manufactured by the Steiff Company as replicas of their more popular bears. Many replicas, however, are sold at the market in order to take advantage of the popularity enjoyed by antique bears.
Steiff distinguishes its bears in a classic way with a gold button and ribbon customarily in the ear. Thus, this is a good sign of an original antique. Through the years some slight changes have been made to button; the button will either feature the original elephant logo or will say “Steiff”.
When buying antique bears, the buyer should ensure that what they are purchasing is actually an original Steiff.