Friday, June 14, 2013

1905 Steiff Blank Button Bear

My birthday was last week, and I got bears! Several antique teddy bears were among the presents, and one of them was something I thought I would never find: a Steiff teddy bear from waaaay back in 1905, still with its rare blank button-in-ear.

12 inch white Steiff bear, 1905.


This is a special bear with a very important place in teddy bear history:

Steiff of Germany designed the first plush jointed bear in 1902, and it debuted to the public in 1903. That bear wasn't yet called a "teddy," just a "bear." It was modeled upon, and looked like, its real life counterpart: large and fierce. In 1905, Steiff redesigned the bear, making it smaller and lighter and giving it a friendlier face, more of a "bear doll" than a toy bear. This model is the one that first had the "teddy bear" look so familiar to us today, and it inspired toy makers all over the world to design their own variations.

For the first year of this model's release in 1905, it came with a blank button-in-ear as a Steiff trademark, which was changed to a button with the company's name on it in subsequent years.



My bear is 12 inches tall, of white mohair, and came wearing a pair of blue overalls that suit him nicely. He has a whimsical, crooked smile. The wear to his nose appears to be damage from kissing, so I don't mind too much.


In profile, the features of early Steiff bears are clearly visible: long arms with curved, spoon-shaped paws, big feet, and a hump.



This bear was so popular, orders skyrocketed, and the Steiff factory sold nearly a million bears in 1907!

8 comments:

  1. Happy belated birthday! Our birthdays are fairly close, but no the birth years.

    That is the most beautiful bear. I love his expression and the wonderful long arms. I really enjoyed reading about the history too.

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    1. Thanks, and Happy Birthday to you too!

      Glad you liked the bear. I agree, his expression is wonderful, like he's remembering happy events from his long life.

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  2. You are a lucky Birthday girl - what a lovely bear.

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    1. Yes, I was very lucky! I still can't quite believe he's here!

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  3. Great looking bear! He looks happy to be yours. Happy birthday! :)

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  4. The kissing- wear is understandable...sounds like it was a very special birthday.

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