Steiff Cloth Dolls

Steiff Cloth Dolls

Although best known for their mohair Teddy Bears and other stuffed animals, the Steiff toy organization traces its founding to the 1870′s when Margarete Steiff hand-made dolls for neighbor youngsters. The popularity of these led to other stuffed animals made from discarded factory scraps, which proved so well received the enterprise incorporated itself under the names of Margarete and her brother Fritz Steiff. By 1903, the company had a booming European trade and began to explore the export markets. Business was so good that more than 3,000 people were employed at their factory by 1909. Thoughout this period dolls remained a popular Steiff product.

Most Steiff doll heads are made of felt (beginning about 1894) or velvet, but some rubber heads are known. Bodies were of felt stuffed with cork dust. Their facial features tend to be strongly delineated, so many Steiff dolls have prominent noses and, until 1922, they had a vertical center seam. The dolls ranged up to 21″ tall.

Steiff dolls frequently have large, flat feet that permit the doll to stand alone. Steiff made a mulitude of character dolls, including ethinc models such as Eskimo and Chinese dolls as well as children, cowboys and sailors. Soldier-like dolls are said to have been modeled after the uniformed Heidelberg students of the period. Since 1905, Steiff dolls have carried an attached metal identification button similar to those found on Steiff stuffed animals.


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