THE HISTORY OF THE GERMAN BEAR
Steiff was the first European company to make true teddy bears. It was started in 1877 in Germany by Margarete Steiff.
It began when she made up a few small stuffed elephants, which became popular with visiting children. Then her brother Fritz had the idea of selling some of her animals in nearby markets, encouraging her to make a range of stuffed animals.Â As their popularity grow so did her reputation and by 1892, she had registered a trademark with a camel on wheels motif. By 1898 she registered an elephant on wheels. Then 1905, the words Knopf im Ohr (Button in Ear) were patented as their trademark for Steiff. Today it is the best identification used to recognise one of Margarete Steiff bears.
Several toy manufacturers, seeing the growing popularity of the bear also started manufacturing their own designs, these early companies included Bing, Hermann, Strunz, Jopi.
While American firms mainly supplied their home market, the German bear manufacturers – at first Steiff, and later competitors such as Hermann and Bing, exported bears across Europe. Only with the First World War did the Teddy Bear industries of other countries start to make a mark.
WWW II, many new manufacturers set up business in the U.S. zone of Germany, and the rest of the world gradually recovered from the restrictions imposed during the war.