An amazing woman


This is a story of an extraordinary woman, who depite physical difficulties followed her dream.

Margarete Steiff was born 166 years ago today, 24th July 1847 in Giengen/Germany and died of pneumonia 9th May 1909 in Giengen/Germany

She was a seamstress and founded the Margarete Steiff GMBH 1880 which makes to this day stuffed toy animals.

Margarete was a very lively, well-built child and led a carefree life until she became ill with polio at the early age of 1½. She was destined never to walk and to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Her mother, above all, found this very difficult to bear. She would have to care for her daughter for as long as she lived. Her daughter would never be able to take on the role of housewife and mother and, at the time, it seemed as though she had absolutely no prospects for the future.
The apparently helpless Margarete had other ideas, however, and was full of the joys of life. She radiated a positive aura and her convivial, cheerful nature made her very popular.

She spent her free time playing with the other children whenever possible. Margarete was a creative inventor of new games. She was always having new ideas and organized the games in such a way that she could take part.

In doing this, one of her natural gifts became evident, one that was to help her a great deal in the years to come: Margarete had a way of telling people what had to be done in a manner that made them want to do it.
Following an unsuccessful operatin on her legs, she went to a health resort. After that Margarete had a lot of catching up to do in school. Being a cheerful and ambitious person, she soon brought herself up to the required level.

The next thing that Margarete wanted to do was to attend a sewing school. Her father objected to this initially, wishing to prevent her from being disappointed if she was unsuccessful. She asserted herself, though, and showed her parents once again that they had underestimated her. Although she took much longer to get work doneand frequently had to ask her sisters to help her, she became a perfect seamstress after a few years. Margarete was always trying to overcome her limitations.

When she was around 17 years old, Margarete realized that she was never going to be healed. She knew that she was going to have to come to terms with her illness in order to find peace of mind and her real way in life. Margarete’s father, Friedrich Steiff modified his house in 1874 and among other things converted the study on the first floor into a dressmakers workshop.

Margarete was unable to turn the wheel of her sewing machine with her right hand, so the machine was turned round: she used her left hand to drive the machine and guided the fabric with her right hand.

She started making stuffed animals as a hobby.

These toys began as elephants, which were originally a design Steiff found in a magazine and originally sold as pincushions  to her friends. However, children began playing with them, and in the years following she went on to design many other successful animal-themed toys for children, such as dogs, cats, and pigs. She designed and made most of the prototypes herself.

Margarete Steiff was just 61 years old when she died on 9th April 1909.

What had originally seemed to be a hopeless life became a shining example of what can be achieved with courage, strength, heart and willpower.

What an inspiration, what a positive and amazing woman!

Nowadays Steiff animals are famous with the yellow “Knopf im Ohr” and the label with the name.

My squirrel "Perry" with his original label

My squirrel “Perry” with his original label

I am lucky to have got some Steiff animals as a child. I still have them here. Now they are rather expensive!

My favourite teddy whom I loved dearly. So much loved that the straw is coming out of his paws. Yes, in those day it was straw! Still cuddly and lovable!

My 52 year old teddy called "Zotti"

My 52 year old teddy called “Zotti”

Deer,dog,elephant,marmot,rabbit, birds

Deer,dog,elephant,marmot,rabbit, birds

My monkey "Yoko"

My monkey “Yoko”

I loved this monkey and chewed on his thumbs, hence they are broken and the straw shows…..  poor monkey!

Goldfish , hen and cat

Goldfish , hen and cat

My wonderful "Perry"

My wonderful “Perry”

My sister's 55 year old teddy called "Petzi" dressed in our old baby clothes.

My sister’s 55 year old teddy called “Petzi” dressed in our old baby clothes.

Finally, my son's Steiff teddy "Ted", much loved and 16 years old.

Finally, my son’s Steiff teddy “Ted”, much loved and 16 years old.

There is a movie from 2005 which is a wonderful life story of her which is well worth watching.

Her biography was taken from her website, see below.

steiff teddies


66 responses »

  1. Dear Ute
    Thank you for your visit.
    I especially find your monkey “Yoko”.
    Wish you a beautiful Wednesday
    Greetings Andrea sends you

  2. “The history of the world is full of men and women who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery and tenacity.” a quote by Mahatma Gandhi…. This woman is deserving of such a saying… lovely share, thank you… and enjoy your holiday…

  3. What a great story of love and determination. I didn’t know anything about the person behind the Steiff name. Lovely to see your much loved collection of soft toys. I have a soft rabbit which must be about 50 years old.

  4. I have never heard this life story. I will check out her website. What an amazing spirit, proving once again we don’t need legs to jump over so many life hurdles, its our spirit man/woman that sours!! Thank you for sharing your Steiff treasures and this beautiful story!!

    • That is it, how she was always cheerful and found ways round her disability is amazing. She never gave up and at that time in the 18 hundreds it was even more difficult I think!
      What a great woman!
      Thank you for being here, with love! Ute

      • lol – I have nearly too many to take care of…blogs and puppies (stuffed and otherwise). I wish I could whittle the blogs down, but they each seem to have their own personality. Some things seem to belong on one blog and other things on other blogs. It doesn’t help that I had to begin new blogs with for my coursework. Oh well, it makes life interesting…if not confusing 🙂 Thank you checking out my not-so-fuzzy-memories!

  5. What an inspirational story!
    You have a wonderful collection there Ute 🙂
    I bet you & theyhave shared & still share an infinite amount of xx hugs xx

  6. Steiff are the best stuffed animals in the world. Ist doch klar!! Till now I had no idea about the background of the Steiff animal’s “parents”. Thanks for sharing this Ute.

    • I found it so interesting and Margarete Steiff was such an inspiring cheerful character!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      Hope you are enjoying the Summer!

  7. Although I’m very familiar with her story, you’ve told it so incredibly well, Ute. Thank you. She was, as you say, an amazing and inspirational woman. One I would have loved to have met and I absolutely love your excellent collection! Thank you for sharing! 🙂 xx

  8. as we grow up with what we think are “just toys” suddenly, as adults, we find we have a collector’s item on hand. how wonderful you still have these beautiful creations and still looking in great shape as well. ♥ thanks for sharing this inspirational woman… ☼sunHUGS!!

    • Those animals are so close to my heart I would never give them away… just to my sons….. possibly…. may be…. or not.. 🙂
      Yes I admire her spirit!
      Thank you Laurie for being here again! I appreciate your friendship! ♥

  9. Reblogged this on A Grateful Man and commented:
    Ute crafted this inspirational tribute to an exceptional woman who refused to let adversity keep her down, and went on to create a legacy that delights adults and children to this day, 166 years after her birth.

  10. my own mother had polio and her life did not take a direction planned. she did have 3 children and worked full time. her mother worked plucking chickens for 50 cents an hour to send her to business school. she had her problems, even so she raised me to take things head on and i credit her for my ability to be at peace.

    thanks for sharing this!

    • It cannot have been easy, another admirable lady raising 3 children. Polio is not very common any more but was in these days. Thank you for sharing your private story! I appreciate it

  11. You would not think so but this post made my heart ache so bad. i have always wanted to own just one steiff bear, because of the history behind the bears. Before I die, I will have just one. thanks for the pictures. I drool over them on the internet quite a bit

  12. I want to take a picture of my Steiff now and post it! I had a teddy much like your son’s–the bandaged one–and loved him sooo much. If ever i could have a material possession back–that Teddy would be top on the list.

    You have a lovely collection, Ute, and I can see they are cherished. What a great article–all these years loving Steiff, and now I have a little bit more to love. 🙂

    • Thank you Karen, my sister and me were very lucky to have so many. We were always brought up to look after our toys, hence they survived. 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comment, Steiff animals are for loving!

  13. What a beautiful story, well told, Ute. I love your stuffed babies, and how long you have had them. It’s so cool that one is dressed in your clothes. How special. I love your nostalgia. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Tuesday Review: The House Bunny or Anne of Green Gables | Marsha Lee

  15. You know … i also have a 50 and more years old bear called ” Zotty ” . It exactly like your one . What a combination !! Unbelievable how little the world can be …

  16. I wrote about my favorite toy, which was a Steiff puppet, in my blog, earlier this year. I never knew about Margarete Steiff before reading this. I’m so glad I found you and this blog today!

    • Glad you could find out more about the Steiff animals. Thank you very much for visiting me and following. I do hope you find more enjoyment from my blog! Warm Welcome Ann!

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