by Dr. Lori Verderame
Some toy teddy bears command $10,000 to $100,000 from collectors. Do you have one of the valuable ones?
Margarete Steiff established the toy company that bears (pardon the pun!) her name in 1880. Plush toys, stuffed animals, and teddy bears were the company’s best sellers and quickly became a household name. The German company used mohair, alpaca, felt, and woven plush to make their famous toys. First produced to be used in pin cushions, Steiff stuffed animals were popular worldwide yet their teddy bears were among the most popular of their toy line.
What to Look For
The well-known metal button has been found in the ear of most Steiff toys since 1904. Note: the button was not used during World War II when metal was in short supply. Early on, the button had an image of an elephant on them. More recently, most buttons were marked “Steiff” and accompanied by a yellow ribbon. Remember, the button is not the only clue to authenticating a Steiff toy or teddy bear. Remember that you could certainly have a valuable Steiff toy that does not have the Steiff button. I have saved many people from making the big mistake of tossing an old teddy bear because the thought all Steiffs had to have a button to be authentic. Not true!
When it comes to teddy bears, look for these tell tale signs of quality: swiveling head, plush and felt paws, eyes made of glass, joined legs and arms. Details on Steiff teddy bears–like the nose, mouth, and other small elements–are hand stitched with thread with care.
State of the Market
Some big bucks have been spent for Steiff teddy bears like the 1903 Steiff teddy bear that sold for $17,250 and the blue glass-eyed bear that sold for $16,590. A circa 1920s teddy bear called the Steiff harlequin bear sold for nearly $75,000. Unbelievable! Even the more common Steiff bears have regularly commanded several thousands of dollars on the market.
Get an online appraisal of your Steiff teddy bear from Dr. Lori