Highly collectible vintage Steiff teddy bears are a perfect way to celebrate National Teddy Bear Day this week! Teddy bears were named after President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902. An avid outdoorsman and hunter, he was praised when he saw a bear cub and didn’t shoot it. Newspaper cartoonist Clifford Berryman drew a picture of the incident, capturing the attention of shopkeepers Morris and Rose Michtom. The couple started selling stuffed bears as “teddy bears.” They were extremely popular with the public. The next year, the couple founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. in 1903. A German version was made about the same time by the Steiff Company, a company founded in 1880 by a German seamstress named Margarete Steiff, whose bout with polio had limited her to sewing with only one hand. Steiff’s idea for the bear came from drawings of the animals at the Stuttgart Zoo. An American wholesaler named George Borgfeldt saw the bear at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903 and ordered 3,000 of them. By World War I, Steiff had sold millions of these toys in the United States, Germany and England. Steiff bears made after 1905 have a trademark Steiff button sewn into their ears. 

steiff teddy bear

Steiff Teddy Bear, golden brown mohair, button in ear, 19 in., $120.
Photo:  Richard D. Hatch & Associates

steiff teddy bear

Steiff Teddy bear, beige mohair, swivel head, shoebutton eyes, stitched details, button in ear, 12 in., $1,416.
Photo: Bertoia Auctions

steiff teddy bear

Older Steiff bear, mohair, glass eyes, wearing handmade shorts, 16 in., $1,140.
Photo: Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc.

steiff teddy bear

Steiff teddy bear, cream mohair with brown stitched nose and mouth, light brown stitched claws, nickel-plated button, 20 in., $2,280.
Photo: Bunte Auction Services, Inc.

steiff teddy bear

Steiff teddy bear, tan mohair, jointed body, sold with modern sweater with “Teddy B” stitched on front, 1907, 14 in., $500. 
Photo:  Marion Antique Auctions


3 responses to “Steiff Bears Can Be Worth Thousands”

  1. Goodybutoldie says:

    Are any of the newer(ish) one’s worth any special amount? I have a Scottish one. Tag still on it!

  2. KL46 says:

    I have a Steiff Susi Sitting Cat, swivable head. I paid $157.50. Is this a fair price?
    Karen Dimmick

  3. ashes01 says:

    I have many, many teddy bears of all sizes and brands including several small Steiffs. I have Herrmans. My all time favorite though is a 1971 Grant, English made cinnamon brown mohair bear who’s been with me for 50+ years. Theodore Edward Bear will celebrate his 50th birthday this Christmas and my family is going to have a party. He’s more valuable than any 20 Steiffs you could find.

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