Richard Steiff

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Replica of Steiff Bär 55 PB,
Steiff-Museum Giengen, Germany

Richard Steiff (February 7, 1877 – March 30, 1939) is a German designer who is known for helping create the teddy bear.

Early life[edit]

Steiff was born in Giengen, and entered his aunt Margarete's toymaking enterprise in 1897. While attending the School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule) in Stuttgart, he would regularly visit the nearby Nill'scher Zoo (closed 1906 [1]) and spend much of his time drawing the residents of the bear enclosure. His sketches of the bears were incorporated into the prototype of the toy bear he created in 1902 and codenamed Steiff Bär 55 PB (where 55 = the bear's height in centimetres; P = Plüsch, plush; and B = beweglich, moveable limbs).

Formation of the Steiff company[edit]

At its debut at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903, the bear initially attracted little attention, but its fortunes were saved when an American buyer snapped up the entire lot of 100 bears and ordered another 3,000 just before the exhibition finished.[2] The heyday of the Steiff company thus began. At the Saint Louis World's Fair in 1904, the Steiffs sold 12,000 bears and received the Gold Medal, which was the highest honor at the event. The kind of toy bear they pioneered acquired the appellation "teddy" from several legends about Theodore Roosevelt. Steiff bears, with a small metal "Steiff" clip in the ear, can now be quite valuable.[3]

Richard Steiff also attained several other technological milestones. He developed the Roloplan, a kind of kite which could take aerial photographs of the Steiff factory and its surroundings in Giengen. The Imperial German Army expressed interest in the Roloplan for aerial reconnaissance purposes, but abandoned such plans when it proved to be unreliably slow.

In 1903, Steiff also planned and erected in Giegen a factory building of concrete and steel called the Jungfrauenaquarium (Virgins' Aquarium), which allowed all the workers inside to enjoy ample natural light, a first for its time. He equipped the building with a ramp so that his aunt could reach the upper levels of the factory in her wheelchair.

Steiff died at age 62 in Jackson, Michigan, United States.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Pfeiffer, Günther. 125 Jahre Steiff Firmengeschichte - Die Margarethe Steiff GmbH. Königswinter: Heel Verlag GmbH, 2005. ISBN 3-89880-387-2.
  • "Namenspatron "Teddy" Roosevelt". Berliner Morgenpost (in German). November 9, 2002. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 

External links[edit]