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 email@example.com .
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
I wonder how many Old Humpty Dumpty stuffed toys are out there.
When I did the designing of Mary Meyer stuffed toys I had a wind-up musical version, a “Shake Me I Chime” version and a soft stuffed version.
Why so many? The first design was a soft, non-musical stuffed toy. It was a popular design for girls and boys. They were made combining Pink plush and Blue felt. This maked the toy acceptable for both girls and boys. The design was introduced in 1969.
Adding a musical mechanism was simple. Just insertd a wind-up musical mechanism playing an infants tune like “Rock-A-Bye Baby” and “Brahms Lullaby” . The musical mechanisms were made in Switzerland and were added creating this musical version. We made sure the key was placed in the back of the toy and stuffing the toy firmly enough so the music box does not turn as key is wound.
This photo showing Humpty Dumpty with large felt eyes was the original creation of 1969. The rayon plush was made by Baxter, Kelly & Faust in their Philadelphia, Pa. mill. The eyes, the Red mouth and Blue collar and hat were felt. Finally a Blue pompon was added as the nose.
In the case of the musical version, a satin ribbon was added saying “I’m A Musical”. This assisted a shopper in purchasing a musical Humpty Dumpty toy on display in a retail store.
The final addition to the Humpty Dumpty family was the “Shake Me – I Chime” version. This was done by adding a small (approximately 2½” long by 1½” in diameter) cylinder containing the mechanism that chimed as the toy is rolled around. These mechanisms required no winding or batteries. They just chimed when moved or rolled around.
The retail prices on Humpty Dumpty was $3.50 for the soft toy, $4.98 for the musical and about $4.50 for the chime toy in the early 1970s.
The final creation of Humpty Dumpty was done in the mid-1970s, when colorful plastic eyes were added and Pink version replaced the original design. In this one the felt hat and collar were Pink along with the plush and the ribbon and the collar became White felt and it became more of a little girl’s toy (see photo) . Was there a Blue version for little boys? I am not sure. Possibly someone reading this will contact me and tell me they have a Blue version.
These design were in the early 1970s – about 40 years ago. Like most people I do not remember everything I did 40 years ago. I did not keep detailed records, so I have to try and reconstruct Mary Meyer’s Humpty Dumpty’s life. They system is not always fool-proof.
If you read this and want to help us reconstruct the history of some of your toys from long ago, contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org .
I helped my Mother and Dad while I was in high school in the late 1940s and came home to Mary Meyer full time in 1955. I’ve been involved in every facet of stuffed toy manufacture from 1955 to 1985. Today I manage halfpriceplush.com, a Mary Meyer website that sells case packs of retired Mary Meyer toys.
How many STUFFED TOYS are there in attics and closets throughout the USA? How many were made by Mary Meyer? I wish I knew.
We have made a lot of kids happy. It all originated with a family, who has been making stuffed animals for 80 years. We love what we do. I hope others love our toys as much as I do.
by Walter Meyer
There are millions of stuffed toys in closets and attics that people have saved during the past 30 to 50 years waiting to be rediscovered.
I just received this photo of a Humpty Dumpty made by Mary Meyer in the early 1970s. That’s over 40 years ago and it’s in mint condidtion – like it just came out of the factory yesterday.
I joined Mary Meyer in 1955 and managed the designing and manufacturing until 1985, when my son Steven Meyer took over the designing.
The Humpry Dumpty you see here was made by Mary Meyer in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The original design was a soft stuffed toy and later a wind-up musical mechanisms and a chime were also added. It was made of Pink or Blue plush for the lower body plus a White plush head. The first designs had a pompon nose, Red felt mouth and felt eyes along with a Pink or Blue felt barret with a pompon and a felt collar. Humpty Dumpty was offered in Pink for little girls and Blue for boys.
The Humpty Dumpty shown here is one of the later designs that evolved. It has colorful lock-in plastic eyes and bow cemented on at the neck line. This version also had a chime mechanism, which chimes as the toy is rolled around and played with. It was a very popular Mary Meyer design and had a gingham check neck ribbonand a ribbon that said “Shake Me – I Chime”.
If you have a Mary Meyer stuffed toy and would like to know it’s history, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you.
Looking at these old Mary Meyer toys brings back many memories. I think of the many children we have made happy over the years. Mary Meyer was my Mother. I enjoyed working with her and it gave me an opportunity to create many stuffed animals that are now waiting to be rediscovered in attics all over the USA.
Displayed at the Toy Fair include all of the Pajama Pooch families. In center on lower shelf is the original Spotted Pajama Pooch (Dog) and to the right is the Tan and White versions of the PJ Dog.
On the upper shelf on the left is the PJ Cat in Grey and to the right the PJ Hound in White, Tan and Spot.
On the lower shelf are medium and small size versions of the Dog and Hound.
Each year in late January or early February the Toy Fair was held in New York City for buyers from all over the world and especially the USA of course. New design were introduced each year at Toy Fair.
By Walter Meyer
This is an early catalog sheet from Mary Meyer. As you can see there are 11 different designs. As you can see from the Price List that accompanies the photo there are also 11 prices.
Looking back at these designs I believe #324 Lamb shown here became #118 Lamb in the 1950’s Mary Meyer line.
Also #320 Small Sitting Bear became #124 Bear and #331 Horse became our standard #T2 Terry Toy Horse and #321 Scotty was our #T1 Terry Toy Scotty. #330 Medium Lamb became our #122.
I remember the other stuffed toy designs, but I have not seen any of the other original designs again.
If you look very closely at the photo you can see the centers of the eyes are French Knots which were used in the toys produced in the late 1940’s. Also on the nose and mouths, especially #320 and 301, you can see they are sewn on to the toys along with the French Knots on the eyes.
The retail prices of the 6 inch high smaller toys was $1.49 each, the medium size, 8 inches high toys cost $1.69 and the two large toys – #440 + #301 – were $2.49 each.
This is the earliest Mary Meyer printed sheets showing their plush toy products. The #324 Lamb, which later became #118, was a standard Lamb design for many years as was the #331 Horse design.