A small stuffed toy ibex with tan fur and felt horns, turned to show the Steiff button in the ear

Memorabilia: Steiff Ibex

As part of my childhood love of animals (stuffed and real), I somehow became aware of Steiff, the German manufacturer of iconic stuffed toys and inventors of the original Teddy bear. They sold a huge range of animals of all sizes and species, most of them about as realistic-looking as it was possible for a plush toy to be. We once visited the equally iconic toy store FAO Schwartz in New York, which sold a vast collection of Steiff toys, including giraffes and elephants that towered over me, and tigers I could probably ride on. I yearned to own a Steiff animal.

They cost hundreds to thousands of dollars even 50 years ago. I couldn’t imagine what kind of family could afford such expensive toys, but we certainly couldn’t. I saved up my allowance and, on a future trip to one of Pittsburgh’s fancier toy stores, was able to buy this little guy. I vaguely recall that it cost $12? This was about 1972, so we’re talking $90 in today’s terms, an amount I would now hesitate to spend on a stuffed toy.

I felt him to be so precious that I never played with him much, nor even gave him a name. Poor little chap, he was not part of my busy community of toys. But he has stayed with me all these years.

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