From the past to the present

The Steiff Story

Margarete Steiff – Making children's dreams come true

Our founder Margarete Steiff was a remarkable woman in many respects. Exceptional for the time, she fought for her place in life as a young girl, against many odds, and became an independent entrepreneur.

With a pincushion in the shape of a small fabric elephant, she wrote the first chapter of an unprecedented success story that is still being written today, after more than 140 years.Thanks to the loving dedication and quality awareness of all employees, the personal history of Margarete Steiff and Margarete Steiff GmbH remain inseparably linked to this day.

Freedom is believing in yourself.

  • 1847

    Margarete Steiff was born
    On 24 July 1847, our company founder Margarete was born in Giengen an der Brenz. At the age of 18 months, she suffers from polio. The cheerful Margarete fights for her place in life despite her severe limitations.

    1847 margarete steiff gruenderin
  • 1877

    The first step towards self-employment
    Margarete founds her felt clothing shop and sells successfully self-made garments and household articles. She was soon able to employ a number of seamstresses.

    1877 filzkonfektionsgeschaeft steiff
  • 1880

    The Elefäntle is created
    The official founding date of our Steiff manufactory. Margarete sees the pattern for a small fabric elephant in a fashion journal. She sews the "Elefäntle" according to this pattern. The felt elephant, intended as a pincushion, soon becomes a popular children's toy. The first Steiff catalogue is published soon and shows not only elephants but also monkeys, donkeys, horses, camels, pigs, mice, dogs, cats, rabbits and giraffes.

    1880 filzelefant erstes kinderspielzeug steiff
  • 1893

    The Margarete Steiff felt goods factory is founded
    On 3 March 1893, the toy factory is registered in the commercial register as "Margarete Steiff, Filzspielwarenfabrik Giengen/Brenz". Our toys are presented for the first time at the Leipzig Toy Fair. Margarete now employs 4 sewers and 10 home workers.

    1893 eintrag handelsregister steiff
  • 1895

    Harrods sells first Steiff products
    Our first foreign business relationship with Harrods, London, is established.

    1895 geschaftsbeziehung mit harrods
  • 1897

    Richard Steiff becomes part of the company
    Richard Steiff, Margarete's favourite creative nephew, joins the company after attending the School of Applied Arts in Stuttgart and studying in England. His animal sketches are the basis for many of our Steiff creations.

    1897 unternehmenseintritt richard steiff
  • 1902

    The Teddy Bear is born
    Richard Steiff designs the "Bear 55 PB", the world's first plush bear with movable arms and legs. The original. While searching for the right material, Richard finds cuddly mohair plush, produced by the Schulte pile weaving mill in Duisburg. Richard is allowed to present his bear at the Leipzig Toy Fair and it immediately conquers the world. The breakthrough comes when an American dealer discovers the bear and orders 3000 of them. The bear becomes a sales success in the USA.

    1902 teddybaer pb 55 richard steiff
  • 1903

    A new building is being built
    The east building, popularly known as the "virgin aquarium", is built in a double glass steel construction. Later, other buildings of this type follow, which are now listed as historic buildings.

    1903 jungfrauenaquarium ostbau
  • 1904

    "Steiff - Button in Ear" - a trademark is being created
    To protect the Steiff animals from imitation, Franz Steiff, Margarete's nephew, develops the trademark, the famous "button in the ear", a trademark that is still protected today. Initially, the button has an elephant on it, but over the years this is replaced by the lettering "Steiff".

    1904 entwicklung markenzeichen knopf im ohr
  • 1906

    The Steiff bear becomes the teddy bear
    American President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was "Teddy", played a major role in the success of the Steiff bear and in giving it its name. He refused to shoot a helpless bear tied to a leash during a hunting trip. As a result, he was portrayed by cartoonist Cliffort K. Berryman in the Washington Post along with a small bear. This is the best publicity for our Teddy Bear, the Teddy Boom begins and our Steiff brand achieves worldwide recognition.

    1906 steiff baer wird teddy
  • 1907

    Teddy Bear Boom
    Steiff produces 1,700,000 toys and 973,999 teddy bears with 400 employees and 1,800 home workers!

    1907 teddybaer boom
  • 1909

    Margarete dies
    At the age of 61, Margarete Steiff dies on 9 May in the presence of her family as a result of pneumonia. After her death, the company is continued by her nephews and the toy and plush range is further expanded.

    1909 tod margarete steiff
  • 1925

    Introduction of assembly line production
    During the hard war and post-war years, Steiff has to adapt its assortment - cellulose-like materials give rise to the so-called "paper teddy bear", toys made of domestic woods are added to the range.

    The Golden Twenties again revive the demand for fabric and plush. Steiff introduces assembly line production to meet the high demand for our products.

    1925 beginn fliessband fertigung
  • 1931

    First cooperation with Disney
    n 1931, the first figures were created together with Disney. A partnership that still continues today.

    1931 erste kooperation mit disney
  • 1947

    Der A new start
    After the end of the Second World War, Steiff ventures a new start. Just one year later, our company employs almost 1000 people. 5 years later, almost twice as there number of staff.

    1947 neustart nach zweitem weltkrieg
  • 1951

    Mecki the hedgehog conquers the world
    The comic figure "Mecki" is produced under licence by Steiff, "Hedgehog Mecki" and teddy bear "Zotty" conquer the world.

    1951 firmenjubilaeum 100 jahre steiff
  • 1980

    100 years of Steiff
    On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the company, our Steiff Museum opens in Giengen. In the same year, we start producing limited edition replicas for collectors and lovers.

    1980 steiff beteiligungsgeselschaft entsteht
  • 1992

    The Steiff Club is founded
    Our Steiff Club for lovers and collectors of Steiff products was launched on 1 April 1992. Our first subsidiary in the USA, Steiff North America Inc. was founded.

    1992 niederlassung nord amerika gruendung steiff club
  • 2000

    The Year of Charities
    World record at a charity auction in benefit of MAP in Monaco in October: € 213,720.00 a Korean collector paid for one of our specially designed Steiff Teddy Bears.

    In November, the huge charity in aid of the Red Cross will take place in London. Steiff bears accessorised by Madonna, Shirley Bassey, Charlotte Church and other world stars raised more than £50,000.

    In December, a Steiff Bear from 1912 will be auctioned at Christie's in London for €150,212.87.

    Also this year, our first Steiff children's collection, manufactured under licence, is launched.

    2000 designer kollektion louis vuitton
  • 2005

    Opening of the phantastic Steiff Museum
    On the occasion of the company's 125th anniversary, our new Steiff Museum in Giengen opens its doors. Look forward to animated dream worlds on an area of 2,400 m², exhibition of historical Steiff animals, the world's largest Steiff petting zoo and the largest and longest Steiff snake slide.

    2005 eroeffnung steiff museum
  • 2006

    First Steiff Summer in Giengen
    For the first time, the Steiff Summer will be taking place on our company campus in Giengen - a big summer party that is all about Steiff friends and families and offers lots of fun and excitement for all ages.

    2006 stieff teddy mit hut sommer
  • 2008

    Steiff meets Karl Lagerfeld
    The legendary style icon Karl Lagerfeld, who was already famous during his lifetime, designed very special Steiff soft toys that quickly went out of stock and became desired rarities for Steiff.

    2008 designer teddy karl lagerfeld
  • 2010

    The world's largest Steiff zoo is opened
    Our Steiff Museum has one more attraction. Children can ride on life-size tigers, elephants and camels through the exotic jungle landscape or cuddle with impressive gorillas under palm trees.

    2010 riesen kuscheltiere steiff
  • 2018

    Steiff receives the Disney Heritage Award
    1931 was the first cooperation between Disney and Steiff. Many fascinating soft toys followed. This year we from Steiff receive a very special honour: the Disney Heritage Award. In the same year, we bring the children's collection in-house and design and manufacture it ourselves from now on.

    2018 bild margarete steiff mit weissen teddy
  • 2020

    Steiff becomes 140 years
    140 years of constantly new product innovations and countless happy children's hearts worldwide. We proudly look back on our history, from the invention of the soft toy to the present day. In the same year, Margarete Steiff is honoured with a place in the famous "Hall of Fame" of the toy industry.

    2020 logo 140 jahre steiff
  • 2021

    The Year of Storytelling
    We are now letting our animals tell their stories in loving books and audio plays. Together with our partners Tonies, DK and Leonine, these wonderful products are coming onto the market and are now also fascinating in this kind of way.

    2021 steiff kuscheltiere mit buch
  • 2022

    The year of anniversaries
    An original celebrates its 120th birthday and this is a special reason to celebrate our Steiff Teddy in 2022. 175 years of Margarete and 145 of Richard stand for themselves. And the Steiff Club can also look back on 30 years.

    2022 stieff teddy wird 120 jahre
A legendary invention

The story of the Teddy Bear

Did you actually know where the teddy bear got its name from?

Read the Story

The Steiff Manufacture. This is how a unique animal is created.

Find out how each Steiff animal, which accompanies a child throughout its life, starts its journey into the world.

Read more
Steiff Museum

A great destination for young and old.

Discover an extraordinary excursion destination full of surprises, experiences and emotions.

Read more