Family business “Stübchen”

A boy wearing an "army coat"
A boy wearing an "army coat"

Rhineland, around 1813/14. Napoleon is defeated, his army hastily retreats, and in the Grand Duchy of Berg, the French officials run away, taking the Grand Duchy’s money with them.

Grandma Limbach establishes the family business “Stübchen”

Grandma Limbach, a skillful seamstress, had been obliged to work for the Grand Duke’s Court at Düsseldorf. Now there is nothing left for her to do, she packs up her things and leaves for her home on the bank of the Rhine below the Seven Mountains. In her bag are the remnants of fine cloth and braids that nobody there needs any more.

The Congress of Vienna gives the Rhineland to Prussia, and in July 1815, Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm IV comes for a visit to Mount Drachenfels. The citizens of Königswinter are delighted, yet most of them have nothing decent to wear. During the last almost twenty years of war, they had other concerns. Grandma Limbach has an idea. She would use the golden braids and sumptuous threads and pearls to mend and give new chic to old garments and hats. Works of art come into being in her skillful hands. Soon many people bring their old things to her, hoping she can help, and indeed Grandma Limbach is very creative, mending and decorating old garments with her treasures from the Grand Duke’s Court. Her grandchild Anni is always around her and helps.

Then the big day was there. A lot of citizens wait on the Rhine promenade for the Crown Prince, many of them wearing Grandma Limbach’s creations. Her Belgian daughter-in-law Henriette offers hot chocolate to the crowd from a makeshift stand. Grandma Limbach is glowing. It is a new beginning after so many years of war.

Soon the family business is set up in Grandma Limbach’s little house. One room is turned into a milliner’s and tailer’s workroom, where she creates nice things from old and used materials that families with little income can afford. In the other room Henriette opens a café where she offered chocolate and imbiss. Soon Grandma Limbach is well known and she becames business partners with Madame Charlotte, a self-made woman who runs an elegant fashion atelier in Bonn. Both are convinced that “less is more”, and that nice clothes were not meant to display a husband’s wealth, and that a sumptuous hat could not hide a lack of brain. Creativity should not be wasted on vanity alone, hard working women with little income should find something nice for themselves and their families.

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