Interpreting Photographic Images: Teddy Bears--Germany

Figure 2.--This German boy was photographed with his teddy. The photograph is undated, but looks to have been taken in the 1920s. Click on the image to learn more about bangs hor cuts in Germany.

The German word for teddy bear is " Teddybaer ". Although that is not what they were originlly called. Germany became a major manufacturer of cuddly stuffed bears years before they acquired the name "teddy bears". Germany is strongly associated with the early history of the teddy bear because of Margarete Steiff became renounded for making toy bears. Stiff lived in Geingen, Germany. She reportedly made her first toy bears from the sketches her nephew had done of the bears at the local zoo. She began making felt bears and other animals that were soft and cuddly in 1877. She was disabled and confined to a wheelchair after being stricken by polio as a child. The Steiff factory produced thousands of teddy bears and other animals. Large numbers were exported, but theyvwere also extemsively sold throughout Germany so German children obviously played with them. The Steiff trademark was a "button in ear". That's how you recognize a Steiff product. Her bears in 1903 were displayed at the Leipzig Trade Fair, although they were not called teddy bears. An American buyer, capitalizing on the publicity over teddy bears in the United States, placed an order for 3,000 bears which was soon increased. The Steiff Company by 1907 was one of Germany's largest toy comopanies. The Steiff bears were some of the most wonderful early teddies and are particularly prosed by collectors today. Steiff teddies are still being made and a HBC reader reports seeing some at FAO Schwarz in San Francisco in 2002. HBC is, however, less sure as to just how popular they were with German children. We note that the Germans apparently eventually adopted the term teddies for their bears. We note that German children like American children became very attached to their teddies. We note a touching account about a German girl named Charlotte and her teddy. And a German reader, Hans, has provided us an image of his teddies and other stuffed animals. we also note an unknown German boy with his teddy who interestingly has the same bangs hair cut as the voy here (figure 1).


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Created: 6:41 AM 9/14/2004
Last updated: 4:12 PM 9/21/2004