It all started with a mouse, a "Pieps" mouse to be exact. It was a Saturday at the big fleamarket on the university's parking lots many years ago where we saw "Pieps" first.
Of course we were familiar with Steiff animals although we both (my ex and I) hadn't had any when we had been children. If you live only 35 miles from where they come, however, you are bound to know about them. Well, not to mention that they are world famous of course. We had never really thought about vintage Steiff, though, and what they looked like.
We fell in love with "Pieps". "Pieps" mice had been made for twenty years, in the colors grey and white. I don't remember if we paid too much - we probably did - but we couldn't resist. The seller told us a little about vintage Steiffs and that people collected them. I guess it must have hit us like a lightning, but at the same fleamarket we also got a rabbit and a guinea pig and learned about mohair and dralon.
When we came home, we didn't know that a door had been opened, a door to more fleamarkets, auctions, new friends, visits to the Steiff museum (still the old one back then), and of course Steiff animals.
We never forgot that "Pieps" started it all. Whenever we saw one we liked, it came home with us which is why I doubt the one in the picture is the ONE.
To this day they are sitting on giraffe necks, in teddy laps, they are riding on foxes and are guarded by cats and dogs.
We didn't have internet then. We had printed price guides and we did everything to get our hands on old Steiff catalogs for more information, too. We were excited to learn about all the things that Steiff made beside the animals, kites, toy aeroplanes, wooden toys, building blocks, and of course there was the stuff with Steiff animals printed on them, from egg cups to card games, from waxed cloth to plastic dishes.
Just today I put away the little Christmas tree that is part of my hallway decorations every year.
The other day I watched a documentary about Steiff. That's when I decided that Margarete Steiff who started the company in the late 19th century had to go on my fan wall of bead loomed portraits.
At the moment she looks a little out of place among all the actresses and actors there, with her earnest look which is not unusual for photos in those times. As you can imagine, there were not many pictures of her to choose from. Don't let it fool you, she was an amazing woman.
You will find a short biography of Margarete Steiff on my fan wall page.