Steiff Search
History Of The Steiff Button & Chest Tags
   96 years of the "Button in Ear" trademark
Steiff "Button in Ear" symbolizes the fascinating development of a trademark that has become a symbol of ultimate quality for toys.

This trademark stands for

  high-quality products
  good design
  perfect workmanship
  maximum emotional intensity
  brand prestige / image
  increase in value
  equally valuable as a toy, a gift     or an ornament
  suitable for children
  compliance with the most
    stringent safety requirements

The Steiff "Button in Ear" trademark is the soul of the product.

Franz Steiff
Franz Steiff, one of Margarete's nephews and the company's chief technician, invented the "Button in Ear" in 1904.
From 1st November 1904 onwards, a metal button embossed with an elephant was attached to every Steiff product.
An ingenious idea, that has essentially remained unchanged right through to the present day and, as well as being a trademark, is also regarded as being a mark of absolute top quality.
The "first" button
A world-famous trademark was born - Steiff "Button in Ear".

The term "Button in Ear" was registered as a trademark on 20th December 1904 and patented on 13th May 1905. The "Button in Ear" was then supplemented by a fabric tag with the product number printed on it in 1908/09.

A trademark allows us to identify the origin of an article. Although only slight changes have been made to the button over the years, these were sufficient to offer today's Steiff animal collectors a means of determining the approximate date of a particular animal's manufacture.

The various types of button are shown below, with reference to typical representatives of the respective periods:
1904/05   1904/05   1908 - 1911
This was the first one:
the elephant button
( 6 mm)
Blank Button ( 6 mm), iron, nickel-plated Button ( 4 mm), iron, nickel-plated, with the word Steiff (with the F drawn back as far as the E)
1910/11 - 1927 1925 - 1934/35 1933/34 - 1943
Button ( 4 mm), iron, nickel-plated, with the word Steiff, (with the F drawn back as far as the E) Button ( 8 mm), iron, nickel-plated, with the word Steiff Button ( 6 mm), brass, with inscription; the final F is only drawn back as far as the preceding letter
1948 - 1950 1948 - 1950 1950
A grey-blue lacquered iron button ( 7 mm) was used shortly afterwards A blank nickel button
( 5 mm) was also being used at the same time
Button ( 6 mm), with the word Steiff
1950 1950 - 1952 1952/53
Button ( 6 mm), with the word Steiff Button ( 6 mm), iron, nickel-plated, with the word steiff (the final F is only drawn back as far as the preceding letter) Nickel button ( 5 mm), with inscription in script typeface.
1960 - 1972 1967 - 1977 1969 - 1977
Nickel button ( 5 mm), with the word Steiff Nickel button in the form of a hollow rivet Nickel button ( 5 mm, rounded off), with very small lettering (recessed where previously raised)
1977 - 1981 1980 - 1982 1982 - 1986
Button, brass, zapon-varnished ( 8 mm), recessed script typeface Button ( 8 mm), brass, zapon-varnished, with the word Steiff, recessed Differs from predecessor: button ( 9 mm), brass, zapon-varnished, with slightly convex surface and other connecting elements that are not visible from outside
1986 1986 - 1999 since October 2000
Button unchanged since 1986 The button remains unchanged. The front face of the button remains unchanged. Modern technology is now used for the concealed rivet joint.
   In the anniversary year 2004, all replicas and limited-edition articles feature a gold-plated button bearing the elephant motif,.
while "Bear 43 PAB 1904" boasts a stainless steel elephant button.   
   The specially-designed Margarete Steiff Edition products feature a button made of brushed stainless steel and embossed with the initials MS, plus the black ear tag with silver lettering.

Note: Blank Buttons are used for SECONDS (like clothing seconds that have the label cut) rejected in the Quality Control Program. These can be found on the market so be careful and demand only The Best as seconds will not retain value.

The exact date of an item cannot be determined with the reference to the button alone, as the various techniques overlapped. This means, for example, that older buttons were fitted while others were being produced. The quoted dates must therefore be used as orientation aids and may not be regarded as being an absolute means of ascertaining the age of an article.

In 1926, pendants, made of card, were also tied round the neck of all products. These changed in appearance over the years.

(1926 - 1928)
(1928 - 1950)
(1950 - 1972)
(from 1972)

(from 1983
for replicas dating back before 1928)
(from 1983
for replicas dating back to the 1950s and 1960s)
(from 1984 for replicas dating back to 1928-1950)
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