A private client brought their father’s teddy bear to Museum Textile Services for conservation in late 2019. The bear had blond mohair fur on a cotton ground, excelsior (wood wool) filling, and shoe-button wooden eyes. The bear was characteristically similar to early teddy bears made by Steiff and Michtum. All we had to go on was the father's birth year: 1923.
To determine the manufacturer of the client’s bear we first closely examined its materials and construction. The fine blond mohair pile and cotton fabric on the paws is seen consistent on the majority of Steiff bears. The earliest of these were stuffed with excelsior and sometimes kapok (a traditional futon filling). Steiff bears have an internal skeleton consisting of cardboard disks and metal pins that allow the head, arms, and legs to move. We could feel the round disks connecting the head, arms, and legs to the body of the bear.
History of Steiff Teddy Bears:
Margarete Steiff was born on July 24, 1847 in Giengen an der Brenz, Germany. She went to sewing school to became a seamstress. Steiff worked as a tailor and eventually founded a felt clothing business selling garments and household articles.
For more information about Steiff Teddy Bears and Margarete Steiff check out the Steiff Museum. Stay tuned for a future blog about the conservation treatment of the teddy bear.
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