Looking for Special stuffed toy is like looking for a friend. you haven’t seen in years – I know exactly what he looks like, but it’s been years since I have seen one.
I spent the first 25+ years of my working life as a stuffed toy designer for Mary Meyer – our family stuffed toy business here in Vermont. As a kid I swept floors and chopped out Red felt tongues for thousands of stuffed dogs, cats, elephant, etc.
In 1955, after college and the US Army, I settled down to a life producing a few thousand stuffed animals each year. I have often wondered where they all went. Today with the social media I can look for them. Each week I receive a few requests for the history of a favorite stuffed animal or someone trying to find out where their old teddy bear was made. Each of these people have one or two favorite toys, but I have many favorites.
My Mother was Mary Meyer and she and Dad started Mary Meyer Mfg. Co. in 1933. This is our 80th year in business. In the late 1950s Mother passed the designing responsibility over to me. It wasn’t an immediate change. I just sort of slid into the job. She was in her mid 50s and looking for a new challenge.
Toy designing is a skill that involves many things – some artistic ability, learning how to cut and sew fabrics, some knowledge regarding what might sell and which toys will not sell, toy safety factors and mixture of many different things. An additional factor – I was the father of 6 youngsters which gave me a great group on which to test my designs.
But this story is about one of my favorite stuffed toys and I’m hoping we can find one of them.
In the early 1960s a fabric – new to me – was shaggy plush. I had been using standard toy plush 3/8″ to 1/2″ high for over 10 years. Shaggy plush was 2″ to 3″ long. It was an acrylic knitted plush toy fabric. I made a number of toys using this material and I used it as trim fabric on medium size toys. My favorite design was a very large Dog. He was about 46″ high and retailed for $25.00 in a toy store or a department store. He had a shaggy White head, legs and body and shaggy Black ears, muzzle and tail. He had Black and White felt eyes, Red felt tongue and a White pompon nose. I believe 1963 or 1964 was the first year they were made and 1974 was the last year.
During that 10 year period how many did Mary Meyer make?
I know we sold 100 pieces to Jordan Marsh Co. in Boston. Most of our customers were the toy stores, department stores, hospital gift shops and many tourist shops. This was a very large and goreous stuffed dog. It was a traffic stopper and kids loved him. I guess we made well over 1,000 pieces during the 10 years he was in our line of stuffed toys. Keep in mind this was a very expensive toy. It sold for $25.00 and in those days that was a lot of money. Unless you were trying to impress your girl-friend.
I sit here in southern Vermont today wondering, are there any of them still out there? I haven’t seen one on Ebay or Craigs List. People don’t throw away the toys that they loved as a kid. There has to be some of them out there and Yes, they may be in terrible condition.
If anyone has seen or knows where one of these Giant White Shaggy Dogs is hiding, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I’m looking for some of my old “stuffed toy friends”. As a toy maker I’m always looking for stuffed toys I made years ago. They are like family. This White ShaggyDog is 50 years old and waiting for someone to find him.
by Walter Meyer