Teddy Bears
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Margarete Steiff the founder of the world's most prestigious soft toy company, was born in 1847 and died in 1909. She was from Giengen, Germany and led the most remarkable, inspirational life, shaping history as she lived. At 18 months old a high fever resulted in Margarete contracting Polio, and losing the use of her legs, and leaving her with a painful right arm. Never one to be deterred, she fought hard to lead a normal life, attending school and qualifying as a seamstress. Later, she began working for her sisters in their dressmaking shop, but soon found herself running her own ready-to-wear clothing business, that became so busy, she was able to employ other seamstresses. Always open for other ventures, a pattern for a fabric elephant pin cushion caught her eye, and she set about making some for her friends as gifts. They were greatly received, but not for their intended use, but as comforting, cuddly toys for their children. From here Margarete set about crafting other fabric animals, and by 1880 the foundation was laid for Margarete Steiff GmbH, with production of their first catalogue in 1892. In 1902 her nephew Richard Steiff created a prototype for the first jointed teddy bear, later selling his entire stock with a large order for more at the Leipzig Spring Fair of 1903. His uncle and Margarete's brother - Frank, is responsible for their patented 'Button in the Ear' motto (1905), along with the button itself (1904), as a sign of outstanding quality and workmanship. In 1907 Steiff produced no less than 974,000 Teddy Bears. Over 400 staff and 1,800 outworkers, contributed to the production of approximately 1,700,000 toys, ensuring that the product range was constantly expanded. This became known as the Teddy Bear Boom Year. Thanks to Paul (another nephew), 1908 was the year that welcomed his creation - a Teddy Bear with sound, or in this case, a tip and tilt growl, that he showcased with great success at the Leipzig Spring Fair. As you can probably tell, the Leipzig Spring Fair was quite instrumental in the continuing success and development of Steiff. Margarete's vision, determination and zest for life, have turned her family-run company into the international, worldwide success it is today, continually embracing, the memory that is Margarete Steiff.