There was a Steiff shop in the arcade near the hotel where we stayed in Hamburg. It was full of bears of all different shapes and sizes, some clothed and some not. There were other stuffed animal toys too but it is the teddy bear with that we most associate with the Steiff name. We bought them for our own children but they were much too expensive for us to stock in our John Dobbie toyshop. We stocked a selection of very nice teddy bears but at affordable prices.
Margarete Steiff began the company in 1880 and was later joined by her brother Fritz and nephew Richard. She originally made elephant pincushions but later made a variety of animal toys. It was her nephew Richard who created the famous teddy bear. The ‘button in ear’ was devised as a distinctive brand feature to stop other toys being passed off as Steiff toys.
Excerpt from Woman in a White Coat
Writing about of teddy bears reminds me of one of the saddest episodes in my memoir involving the death of a young child.
With only two days left before Christmas, the pathology department at St Jude’s Cancer Hospital had been quiet all day. The surgeons put off non-urgent operations until after Christmas, so that patients could spend the holiday at home. There had been very few specimens to process and most of the staff had gone home early to get in some last minute shopping. By four o’clock the department was deserted. I had already got one arm in the sleeve of my coat when the phone rang. I was tempted to ignore it but having four children I always worried in case it was about one of them.
‘Hello,’ I said ‘Pathology department. Dr Waterman speaking.’
‘Steven here, Dr Waterman. I think you’re on for post mortems. Can you come down? I’m all ready for you.’
‘Oh Steven, can’t it wait until the morning? I know tomorrow’s Saturday and Christmas Eve, but I don’t mind coming in specially. I need to get over to Hamleys and buy a present for my neighbour’s new baby before they close.’ Continue reading Fabulous Steiff Shop, Hamburg