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How to Collect Steiff Animals

Updated on May 16, 2017
One of my few Steiff Teddy Bears, he was purchased at a toy store in Germany.
One of my few Steiff Teddy Bears, he was purchased at a toy store in Germany. | Source

The Margarete Steiff Toy Company has been in existence since 1880 and has always prided itself on making exceptionally high quality stuffed animals and toys. From its humble beginnings in a small southeastern village in Germany, Steiff now sells its toys worldwide, with many of their pieces being highly sought after collectibles.

Steiff collectors go to great lengths to find that one piece they still need for their collection. Some only collect Steiff bears while others, like me, collect all of their animals. Still, other collectors search for cartoon character toys or the limited edition series. Whatever the case may be, there are many things to know when collecting these animals.

A sampling of some Steiff "friends", both old and new.
A sampling of some Steiff "friends", both old and new. | Source

From a Collector's Point of View

In a sense, I have been collecting Steiff animals since I was born, over 47 years ago. I never intended to become a Steiff collector, it just evolved. My mother was born in Germany, so I had German grandparents, and from my birth, I was always sent Steiff animals as gifts. When my grandparents were still alive, we would visit in the summers, and I would purchase one or two.

These animals have always been very precious to me. They were never purchased with the intent to sell them later. Growing up, they were "friends" that I played with, spending hours making grand animal parades around the house.

It was not until I was in my early thirties that I realized I had a true collection. Before that, they were the stuffed animals that sat on shelves in my bedroom. It was not until I came across an article mentioning that a Steiff bear had sold for some exorbitant sum, that I realized I should probably take a closer look at my "friends." It was also at this point that I knew I was a collector.

Other Steiff Collectibles
Other Steiff Collectibles | Source

How Do I Know if I Have a Steiff?

There are 3 things to help you identify an authentic Steiff:

  1. Look for a button in the ear, or on another part of the animal if it does not have an ear.
  2. Look for the ear tag with identifying numbers on it.
  3. Look for a chest tag.

For more detailed information on identifying Steiff animals check out: How to Identify Steiff Bears.

"Diggy" on the right was given to me after my grandmother died.  She kept it on her nightstand as long as I can remember.  "Diggy" on the left was purchased at a toy store in the U.S.
"Diggy" on the right was given to me after my grandmother died. She kept it on her nightstand as long as I can remember. "Diggy" on the left was purchased at a toy store in the U.S. | Source

Where to Find Steiff Animals

There are many places to find both old and new Steiff. Always make sure that you are purchasing from a reputable dealer.

For new Steiff toys:

  • In Germany - Practically every toy store sells Steiff animals. In addition, there is the factory store in the town of Giengen an der Brenz, the home of the Steiff company.
  • In other countries - Higher end toy stores, as well as finer specialized stores, usually carry them.
  • Television Shopping - Television shopping networks sell Steiffs. This line of animals is usually mass produced so you may not always find those special collectibles.
  • Online - Steiffusa.com is a good source for new products.
  • Ebay - While mostly older Steiffs are found on eBay, there are online stores that sell new products as well.

For old Steiff toys:

  • Yard Sales - You never know when you will stumble across a lucky find. Just make sure you know how to identify a Steiff animal before you spend a lot of money.
  • Flea Markets - Flea Markets are a good source for Steiff toys if you know what you are looking for and have an idea of prices. But look out, they tend to charge high prices for toys that are not in good shape.
  • Ebay - I have purchased a few pieces on eBay and have been happy with their condition and quality. Ebay is a good tool if you know exactly which animal you want, and how much you are willing to spend on it. Make sure to always purchase from a reputable seller. I always look for the listings with lots of photos which can help me identify the piece.
  • Auctions - Auctions are for the serious collectors. Some of these pieces can sell for thousands of dollars.
  • Antique Stores - I have often found Steiff at antique stores, but the prices tend to run high.
  • Online Stores - There are many online stores that sell older animals and have a wonderful selection. Just be sure to know what you are looking for.

As with any collection, it is up to you as the collector to decide when, and what, to purchase. Always be well-informed and set your limits. Know how to identify the Steiff animal you are looking at and make sure it is in good condition. Attempt to ensure that the seller is trustworthy. This will help you get that perfect addition to your collection.

Steiff friends from the sea.
Steiff friends from the sea. | Source

Look Out for Fakes!

Because older Steiff animals can be worth a fair amount of money, there are fakes out on the market. Here are few things to keep in mind if you think you have found a treasure.

  • If the button in the ear is bright, shiny and silver toned with no lettering, then it is a fake.
  • If you really know your Steiff animals, then you'll know that a horse that was not produced until 1963 and that has a dull pewter blank button only used until 1953 is a fake.
  • Look at the eyes. Older ones were made of shiny glass. Look at the quality of the stitching and the materials used. Steiff has always used the highest quality craftsmanship.
  • Finally, use your intuition. If it does not feel right, then walk away.

My beautiful Manni, the victim of our dog Max.
My beautiful Manni, the victim of our dog Max. | Source

Taking Care of Your Collection

While they are made as toys, Steiff animals, especially older ones, should be handled with care. There are product lines that are made for younger children in mind, but these animals are an investment and should be treated as such.

  • Keep animals away from your Steiff. The plight of one of my oldest Steiff bunnies "Manni" (pictured at the right) still saddens me. Our dog was a year old and was always quite curious about my collection. One day, I left the door to the room where I display them open. When I came back in, Max was happily chewing away on Manni. I have kept the arm in hopes of finding someone to restore him. As you can see, this bunny was still made with the old wood shavings. I learned my lesson, and Max is never allowed anywhere near my Steiff.
  • Store them away from sunlight. These animals fade easily and sunlight is really damaging.
  • Keep an excel spreadsheet with pertinent information on each of your Steiff toys. For example, on my list, I have the following information: animal type, materials used, posture, name on chest tag, number on ear tag, and limited edition number if applicable. This is especially useful for insurance purposes.
  • Take photos and store them in a safe deposit box. This is very important. If your collection were to be lost in a fire, these photos would be useful to your insurance company.
  • Cleaning should be kept to a minimum, if at all. I would never use anything to clean Steiff animals, not even water. If the piece is from one of the children's toy lines, check out the manufacturer's suggestions and follow them. For older pieces or newer collectible line pieces, the most I do is carefully blow the dust off of them.

Valuable or Not

If You Are Interested in Collecting Steiff

There are many Steiff clubs around the world. Quite frequently there are conventions where collectors can meet and get know each other. If you ever have a chance, go to the factory in Germany and take a tour. The pieces displayed are amazing.

Collecting Steiff toys is a wonderful hobby. Whether you were fortunate to obtain them as gifts or whether you have just started your collection, Steiff collecting is a wondrous thing. The toys are created with such care and detail and there is such a wide variety. Be careful though, it can become addicting!

© 2012 Glimmer Twin Fan

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    • profile image

      vik69 7 months ago

      Thank you very much for posting!

      I have five years of collecting toys. To date, I have about 500 toys from Steiff ...- bears, dogs, cats, rabbits, foxes, sea animals ... There are toys and other well-known companies - Teddy Hermann, Grisli, Clemens, Shuko, Steinhäuser, Carl Moritz Breitung, Berg - Tiere mit Stainless ...

      Sincerely, Victor.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 20 months ago

      That's a tough question Rachel. The values change from time to time. Try looking up on line, maybe there is a recent auction with sale prices listed. I'm afraid I don't know the exact depreciation when there are no identifiers. It would help if there was a hole in the ear where the button may have been or maybe the remnants of a tag on the chest. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Rachel 20 months ago

      I am struggling to find out the value of my two Steiff animals who do not have identifications. One is a Manni bunny (very much like the one you have) and the other is a Maskenbar Bear. Do you know where I can research them? What is the depreciation when there is no identifiers? Thank you

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      Marina - Sounds like you have a nice collection. You'd have to look up the best way to sell them in your country. I'm sorry that I can't help you with that. Good luck.

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      Marina 3 years ago

      I collected steiff animals in the sixties, when I was really young, but now I'd like to sell them (21 pieces) . How can I get the right price and which is the best way to sell them? Tks Marina dodo56@libero.it Milan-Italy

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      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Hi pstraubie - Definitely be on the look out for these. They really are cute and if you are lucky enough to find one at a yard sale you may just get a bargain. Thanks so much for commenting.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is very interesting. I never had one of these but now I think I will look for one or two for my grandson. And I see there is another article about these so I must learn more.

      Thanks for sharing this...it was interesting that you said all of a sudden you realized you had a collection. It's funny how that happens, huh?

      Sending you many Angels and blessings this morning. :) ps

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is very interesting. I never had one of these but now I think I will look for one or two for my grandson. And I see there is another article about these so I must learn more.

      Thanks for sharing this...it was interesting that you said all of a sudden you realized you had a collection. It's funny how that happens, huh?

      Sending you many Angels and blessings this morning. :) ps

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Hi wabash annie - I appreciate the nice comments. I don't really collect a lot of new ones anymore, but I still enjoy my collection.

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      I've had collections over the years and appreciated the Steiff hub so much! I am past the age of beginning a new collection but can see how one can be hooked on these animals. Great pictures, by the way.

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      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Thanks for the vote and share vespawoolf! It's amazing what people will get rid of at flea markets so you never know when you may come across a treasure. Keep your eyes open!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      How nice to enjoy a lifelong hobby! Not everyone has the opportunity to keep a collection from childhood. From your photos I can see the animals are in pristine condition. We have flea markets here and now I'm going to watch out for Steiff animals, especially the bears. We can find designer clothes and there are heaps of stuffed animals, so I'm sure they're around somewhere! Thank you for all the detailed information, too. Voted up and shared!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      recappers - thanks for the comments! This was fun to write.

    • recappers delight profile image

      recappers delight 5 years ago

      I like the little anecdotes you've put next to some of the photos. It gives it a nice personal touch.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Thanks so much eHealer! A collection has to start somewhere. Give Steiff a try!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Beautiful hub! I love the photos, they really set off the content. I learned about Steiff, I never knew they even existed. They are very beautiful, I don't think I ever had a stuffed animal. Maybe I'll start collecting steiffs. Thanks Glimmer, great job as usual and voted up and awesome!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Thanks Mama Kim! One of these might have to go on your Christmas list. I hope you get your wish!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Oh no... poor Manni. These are an adorable collectable ^_^ I collect porcelain dolls and barbies... Not nearly as cute as your collection! I may have to get me one or two of these ^_^ Christmas is coming up...

      Voted up and interesting

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Tammy - They really are cute and there are so many different ones. I bet your daughter will love them!. Thanks for the visit.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image
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      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Thanks mollymeadows! You never know when you may come across a treasure and sometimes the seller does not know what they have. Then you really are in luck!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      These are adorbable! I haven't heard of this line before. I usually go with Gund. Gosh, I don't need another hobby, but seeing these cuties really makes me want to collect them for my daughter. Excellent and informative!

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Interesting! I sometimes visit estate sales and am always happy to learn more about collectibles. Thanks for the tips!