The German company Steiff are best known for making teddy bears, but have also produced rag dolls and soft toys.
Steiff was founded by Margarete Steiff in 1877, when she began selling clothes and household articles that she had made herself at a ready-to-wear felt clothing company. In 1880 Steiff made her first felt soft toy – a pin cushion elephant. Six years later over 5,000 elephants had been sold – the pin cushion had become popular with children.
The doll pictured is believed to have been made by Steiff in about 1913. Based on an old woman, she is very life-like, with knobbly knees, a sagging stomach, a drooping bustline and rounded shoulders and made from felt and cotton and is stuffed with straw. Her eyes are black buttons sewn into her face and she has a slight smile painted on. She is 48cm tall.