A private client brought their father’s teddy bear to Museum Textile Services for conservation. The client’s father was born in 1923. 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, like Steiff and Michtum bears.
History of Steiff Teddy Bears:
Margarete Steiff was born on July 24, 1847 in Giengen an der Brenz, Germany. When she was 18 months old she contracted poliomyelitis aka polio which paralyzed her legs and caused pain in her right arm. Despite the pain in her arm, Margarete went to sewing school and became a seamstress. She worked as a tailor and eventually founded a felt clothing business selling clothes and household articles. After seeing a sewing pattern for a small stuffed elephant, she made elephant pin cushions. Soon afterward stuffed animals became popular as toys for children. The Steiff Manufacture was founded in 1880 and made a variety of stuffed animals including the elephant, dogs, cats, hares, horses, and monkeys. Stuffed bears did not appear until 1902 when Margarete’s nephew, Richard Steiff, designed the first bears with movable arms and legs. The bears became immensely popular in the USA in 1906 under the name Teddy Bear, which were named after the American president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
For more information about Steiff Teddy Bears and Margarete Steiff GmbH check out the Steiff Museum. Stay tuned for a future blog about the conservation treatment of the teddy bear.
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