Founded in 1880 by Margarete Steiff, Steiff is a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality toys. The first animal she introduced was the elephant, a design based on a picture found in a magazine. Steiff initially sold them as pincushions to her friends, but saw that children began playing with them.
In 1902 the company got an enormous boost in popularity by creating the teddy bear. By 1907, Steiff manufactured 974,000 bears, and has been increasing its output ever since. Made by hand with the most luxurious materials as alpaca, felt, mohair and woven plush, Steiff products are highly flame resistant and smaller pieces (such as eyes) must be able to resist considerable tension, wear and tear. Eyes are generally made of wood or glass, and the stuffing is commonly wood shavings or polyester fibers. The final touch on any Steiff toy is the button-in-ear, a trademark devised by Margarete’s nephew Franz, to keep counterfeits from being passed off as authentic Steiff toys. It originally had the symbol of an elephant, but is later replaced by just the name ‘Steiff’.
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