April 11 2014

Maui Press-On Cow Sticks to Car Windows

by Walter Meyer

     Maui Cow Press-On was introduced by Mary Meyer for Christmas 1988 – 26 years ago -  and was sold through the mid 1990s.  Mary Meyer is a stuffed  animal designer, manufacturer and distributor established in 1933 and today located in Vermont and run by Mary Meyer’s family.

Cow Stuffed Toy Cow

     Maui Cow was 5” high with a plastic suction cup on all four feet.  The suction cups were  used to hold the toy Cow onto car windows. The cartoon character cat –  “Garfield” with suction cups was also very popular at that time.

     Maui Cow was Black and White plush, with Tan horns, Hawaiian print shorts and wore plastic sun-glasses.
     During the late 1980s and 1990s many cars could be seen with these press-on cows and other stuffed animals attached to their windows. 

     In 1988 the Maui Cows sold for $4.99 in retail stores. Also in this series with the Press-On Cow was a Press-On Moose, which also retailed for $4.99.

     This design concept of stuffed animals stuck on car windows is no longer a popular fad. Today  animals stuck on car windows are few and far between.

     The purpose of this story is to remind us of the great stuffed toy designs created by Mary Meyer designers during the past 50 to 60 years.  Stuffed toy designers have created millions of different toys.

     I have been here at Mary Meyer watching all the new designs since 1955.  We stuffed animal designers are artist who create “New Ideas”, which we then manufacture in quantity.  These designs then end up in people’s homes and today can be found in attics, closets and toy boxes all over the USA. 

     How many stuffed animals do you think are here in this country?  I think there are Millions of “much-loved” stuffed toys and we keep adding to their population every year.

by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer’s son

 

 

 


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April 01 2014

by Walter Meyer

Best Mary Meyer Stuffed Animal Designs  – 1930s to Today

     I’m writing to tell about great designs created during the past 50 or more years. My hope is these toy design will not be forgotten and they can see the light of day again.
62530 Shearson A       Shearson Sheep is my favorite Mary Meyer toy and was introduced in 1995.  Shearson is 9″ high stuffed sheep with removable sheep-skin suit.  With a zipper in front,  When the zipper is unzipped, the suite may be removed. This toy was a very popular seller during the mid 1990s and into the 2000s and was one of Mary Meyer’s most creative designs.  At the time Shearson was introduced it sold for $15.99 in a retail store.
      Kids loved to play with Shearson, dressing and undressing him.  Where are these toys today?  Most are in attics or toy boxes in a closet, How many are there out there?  Many thousands of Shearson still exist. Very few have been thrown out. Some were lost but most are alive and well and waiting for someone to bring them down from their resting place in the attic.
     The purpose of this story is to remind us of the great Mary Meyer toy designs created during the past 50 to 60 years. Mary Meyer started her toy company in 1933 and created the original designs her company made.  I took over designing in the late 1950s and my son Steven Meyer took over in the late 1980s until today. I’ve seen 75 years of Mary Meyer toy designs done by my Mother, myself and by my son Steven.
     I am also very familiar with toys made by my competitors – Dakin, Russ Berry, Pussy Cat Toy, La Mar, Eden, Knickerbocker, Gund, Rushton, Kamar, Truddy, California Stuffed Toy, etc. many of whom are no longer in existence.
     Each year new stuffed toys are created. New fads take the place of last year’s fad.  What ever happened to the great toys our children and grandchildren had 20,  30, 40 years ago? 
     I am going to try and resurrect some of the favorites of years ago, so Moms and Dads and Grandmas and Grandpas can relive some of the great toys we played with years ago.
     Let’s see what we can find.  I just happen to have a closet full of old great stuffed animals made by Mary Meyer, that Mother, Steven and I created for Mary Meyer over the years.
by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer’s son
Company historian


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January 06 2014

Mary Meyer Washable Stuffed Toy Scotty 1946

by Walter Meyer

MM Vin 601 Scotty 1946 Oil Cloth ToyMary Meyer started making stuffed toys in the 1933. My Mother was Mary Meyer and I have a collection of toys she made starting in the 1930s right up to today –  2014.
As a kid I watched the “ladies” who made the toys doing all of the different toy making operations.
Stuffing toys in the 1930s and 40s were hand made. 
Mary Meyer moved to Vermont in the mid 1940s from just outside New York City in New Jersey.
Up until this point stuffed toys were stuffed by hand mostly with cotton fiber. This was garneted cotton, which came in 2 colors – Dark Blue and Pink. Garneted cotton was made from clean rags which were run through a garneting machine, which took the cotton cloth fabric and tore it apart and returned it to it’s original condition as fluffy cotton batting. The dark blue was made from dark color fabric like denim and the lighter Pink was made from light colored and White cloth.
Mary Meyer used the lighter colored cotton, because the dark blue cotton showed through the fabric of the toys.
The garneted cotton was delivered in 500+ pound compressed bales, which were really difficult to maneuver around.

The cotton bales was put in a corner near the stuffing department and large armfuls of cotton were put in the stuffing department. The stuffers sat around a box of stuffing cotton and stuffed. They each have a empty stuffed toy.
When making a stuffed toy the parts are cut from a piece of fabric and sewn wrong-side-out, then turned right-side-out so the seam would not show. Then the toy is stuffed.
The empty right-side-out toy is called a skin or a shell and in the 1930s and 1940s was stuffed by hand with cotton batting. In a production facility women grabbed a large piece of cotton batting and pushed it into the toy skin with a wooden poker about 12″ long. First they stuffed the head, filling out the top of the head, the nose and then the rest of the head. Then they stuffed the arms and legs and finally the body. The opening in the stuffed toy was usually in the back or bottom of the toy, where the closed opening was difficult to see.
In the 1930s and 1940s a stuffed toy that was washable probably was made of “oil cloth”. If you can’t remember oil cloth, it’s the fabric that was on your grandmother’s kitchen table. It was a cotton fabric with a washable coating on it. Toys made from oil cloth would be washed off and cleaned after a youngster dirtied them.
Oil cloth had it’s good points and bad. It can be cleaned after becoming dirty.
The oil cloth protects the inner stuffing from getting soaking wet and not drying out. Oil cloth is difficult to work with, because it’s stiff and not very flexible. If you sew an oil cloth toy wrong-side-out and want to turn it right-side-out, the stiff fabric makes it difficult to do. It can be done, but it’s not easy.
Once you stuff the toy and want to close the opening through which it was stuffed, the stiff fabric is difficult to sew closed and may tear.
Washable fabric was difficult to find in those days, so you had to put up with oil cloth and try and make it work. After World War2 plastic fabrics came into use.
In 1945 Mary Meyer made a line of washable stuffed toys using oil cloth.
Here is #601 – Scotty – about 7″ long and 5″ high made of Red and White checked oil cloth, stuffed with garneted cotton. The eyes, nose and mouth were felt parts sewn on with Black yarn plus a Red satin neck ribbon. Mary Meyer’s line of oil cloth toys included an Elephant, a Terrier, a Horse, a Lamb and a Giraffe. They were made of oil cloth and stuffed with cotton with similar felt facial features and sold in a retail store for $1.00 or slightly less through out the USA
by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer’s son

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August 23 2013

Do You Have a 70+ Year Old Pincushion Doll in Your Attic?

by Walter Meyer
Pincushions Doll

Pincushion Doll

A friend just showed me a Mary Meyer pincushion she has thats over 70 years old. 
     My Mother was Mary Meyer and she started a company that manufactured pincushions dolls in the 1930s and today is still manufacturing stuffed toys and dolls  -  70+ years later. 

     During the late1930s Mary Meyer made animal pincushions and dolls. Women who sewed used them to store their pins and needles in.  In the 1930s women sewed most of their own dresses.  For generations women kept their needles in Tomato pincushiosn.  Mary Meyer (my Mother) changed the design from the Tomato pincushion to stuffed dolls and stuffed Scotties and other small animals.

     The pincushion doll I have today was made in the late 1930s.  It’s made of colorful cotton fabric and stuffed with garnetted cotton, deorated with 5 brass safety pins and a Blue satin ribbon.  My Dad – Hans Meyer- was the sales organization that travelled the eastern USA and called on department stores and 5 & 10¢ chain stores.  Woolwworth, WT Grant and the other chains would order 1, 2 or 3 dozen assorted of Mom and Dad’s pincushions for 40 or 50 stores. 

     Dad loved to visit Marshall Field in Chicago and the Hecht Co or Woodward & Lothrop in Washington, DC or Jordan Marsh in Boston. These stores bought his pincushions for their Notion or Women’s Sewing departments.

     The Blue check pincushion doll I just found was made in the late 1930s.  The body is made of cotton percale fabric and stuffed with cotton.  The silk-screened face we purchased from Crescent Hill Novelty Co. in New York City.  Also part of the doll were 5 brass safety pins and a satin neck ribbon.

     On the top of the dolls head is a cloth loop that is used to hang the doll.  Some of the dolls had a White apron and some did not.  Why? I have no idea.  I was about 9 years old at the time and pincushions were the least of my interests.  But being part of a business family exposed me to discussions between Mom and Dad – the maker and designer and her major salesman – at the dinner table.  I helped out in the factory.  I remember seeing and hearing about pincushions and the business.  I absorbed facts even though I was not interested in them.

     Today I am looking for for Doll Pincushions.  After 70+ years I have found 7 pincushion dolls Mary Meyer made.   How many did they manufacture over about a 5 to 8 year period in the very late 1930s?  I guess probably about 5,000 pieces.

      The first one my daughter found in Larned, Kansas about 5 yearsd ago.  She bought it on the web.  Since then we have  found 6 more.  The first two dolls had a “Mary Meyer – Hand Made Pincushion” Blue and Gold paper hang-tag on them.  The last  4 have no tags, but are identical to the ones with the tags.

     My goal today is to look for more Pincushion dolls and to see if I can dig out any history of the doll.  Mary Made in the area of 5,000 Dolls and we have 7 of them  There are 4,993 more dolls out there waiting to be found. 

     Did your mother’s or grandmother have a pincushion my mother might have made?  Where  and when did she buy it? Can you tell me anything about it?  Chances are I am not going to find out much history, but I have to try.  Antique shops and websites may have the dolls I am looking for.  Some will be in great shape.  Others will be in awful condidion, but I have to look for them.  I’m 82 years old.  I may not be here too many more years and whaat I remember will be lost when I’m gone.

     Do you happen to have a Pincushion Doll in your attic?  Do you have a Scotty or a Lamb pincushion that was passed down to you? We have found them in Kansas, Florida and in New England.

      If you do, please tell me about it.  You can email me.  I would love to hear about it and  anything you can tell me of it’s history.

by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer Stuffed Toys
Townshend, Vermont
walter_meyer@marymeyer.com

 


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August 21 2013

Pretty Girl Bunny Is Over 40 Years Old

by Walter Meyer

A friend of mine in Oklahoma found a Mary Meyer Pretty Girl Bunny we made in 1971.  She send me a photo of this 10″ high White plush bunny we made over 40 years ago.  This was one of my favorite bunny rabbit designs. Mary Meyer probably manufactured about 5,000 of these bunnies.   It was a White plush bunny with Pink plush ears, a Pink check gingham skirt, and a Pink felt hat with Pink flowers cemented onto the hat.  The final decoration was a Pink satin neck ribbon.  The Pink and White colors matched beautifully.

Pink Pretty Bunny

Pretty Bunny

The facial decorations – felt eyes, nose and tongue – were cemented on.   This cute Pink and White Bunny was a very popular bunny design.  It sold for many years during the Easter season at toy and department stores, hospital gift shops and card shops.

This cute Girl Bunny retailed for $3.98 each and today is hiding in many attics, closets and basements through out the USA.  During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Easter was a very popular season for giving stuffed bunny rabbits to youngsters.  Mary Meyer and other American stuffed toy manufacturers created an assortment of different Easter design including chicks, ducks, plus many sizes, shapes and decoraated bunnies.  Mary Meyer’s 1971 Easter wholesale catalog showed 44 different Easter designs.

The Pretty Girl Bunny shown above also had a companion “Pretty Boy Bunny”.  It was quite similar to the girl, except he had a Blue felt vest in place of the Pink check skirt, and a blue hat with Blue satin neck ribbon.  The Girl and Boy Bunnies were made to compliment each other and were quite attractive as a pair.  They were quite popular as an Easter decoration in many homes.  Mary Meyer also made other Dress Girl and Boy couples in larger sizes.

Mary Meyer was established in New York City in 1933 and moved to Vermont in the mid 1940s.  Today it is still owed and operated by the third generation of the Meyer family in Townshend, Vermont.

If you have a Mary Meyer stuffed toy and are interested in knowing it’s history, you can visit marymeyervintage.com and contact us with your questions.  We are always happy to help owners of our toys find out  about their toy’s history.

by Walter Meyer
Townshend, VT 05353
walter_meyer@marymeyer.com
Photo by Linda Laughlin

 

 


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August 07 2013

I found a 70 Year Old Stuffed Camel Pincushion my Mother Made

by Walter Meyer

80 Years ago my Mother and Dad started a small business in New York City that made small stuffed animal pincushions.  From those pincushions which are today as up-to-date as the buggy whip, evolved a company that manufactured stuffed plush toys.  Mary Meyer was my Mother and she and Dad started Mary Meyer Manufacturing Co. in NYC in 1933.

The first few years they made Animal Pincushions, which were scotties, lambs, horses, and elephants.  Mother was the designer and the maker and Dad, Hans Meyer, was the salesman.  He travelled all over the eastern half of the USA and sold animal pincushions to department stores and 5¢ & 10¢ chain stores like Woolworths.

Dad was a great salesman and kept a good size crew of ladies busy sewing, stuffing and making stuffed animal pincushions.

After World War 2 women didn’t sew their own clothing as much as they use to and there wasn’t a need for a stuffed animal pincushion to store their pins and needles in.  Mothers did not make all of the family’s clothing the way they did in the 1930s and 40s.Camel Pincushion

When I was 12 years old I helped Dad carry cartons containing order shipments to the post office for shipping to 40 to 50 Woolworth stores or department stores.  In each carton was one, two or three dozen 5” to 7” stuffed animal pincushions for each “5¢ & 10¢” branch store.

Whether I knew it or not, I was being exposed to a business, that I later joined after college and a tour with the US Army in the mid 1950s.

Mother grew up in New York City and learned the dressmaking trade at Manhattan Trade School for Girls.  She loved to sew and helped the business grow.  They first made Tomato Pincushion, then animal pincushions and finally stuffed plush toy animals.  Today that business is in southern Vermont.  Over those 80 years Mary Meyer has made many millions of stuffed toy animals and probably a few hundred thousand animal pincushions.

Today I answer emails from adults who have grown up with our toys and want to know something about their teddy bear or stuffed dog that they had for 20, 30 or 40 years ago.  I’m pretty good and  I can tell them what is ours and what is not and it’s history.  It’s like looking at one of your kids and saying “I know that kid.   He’s one of mine”.

This past week I saw a Camel animal pincushion that I haven’t see for 70 years, but I knew it was one of ours.  Stuffed Camels were never in great demand.  Dogs, Cat and Teddy Bears are the most popular designs, followed by Lambs and Rabbits.  Camels are fairly far down the list of popularity.

   How many Camels did Mother make?  Well, I have to guess at some of these
   answers, because there are no records saying “x number of pieces”.  I’m
   guessing they were made from 1939 through 1945.  If there were one Camel
   per dozen assorted pincushions, there could be 5,000 or more Camel
   pincushions made during that period.

  A Mary Meyer collector friend of mine sent me a photo of her Camel.  Keep in mind this pincushion is 70 years old and she bought it after it had been used for many years.  It’s faded and the ribbon is frizzy.  Pincushions were all made of cotton percale fabric, stuffed with cotton batting, with sewn on felt eyes, nose and tongues, with a satin neck-ribbon, with a tiny spool of thread and 5 brass safety pins attached.  They did not have a sewn in tag stating the name of the maker as we do today.

The Mary Meyer Camel pincushion is 7″ long and 6½” high.  If you look at the belly of the Camel the fabric is not as faded as the fabric on the sides.   It is still stuffed fairly firmly, but the safety pins are gone.  This pincushion is still in pretty good shape considering it over 70 years old.

 Why am I writing this?  Well, I wonder, are there any more Camels or other stuffed animal pincushions out there?  I have a few and I’m looking for others.  There are dogs, cats, horses, lambs, dolls, elephants, dolls and camels.  We also made toys out of oilcloth, but I’ll save that story for another day.

I’m a stuffed toy detective. I spent 30 years designing and making stuffed toy animals and now I’m looking for some of the products my family made 60 to 70+ years ago.  I am hoping there are some animal pincushions hidden in attics and garages all over this huge country, that will jump out and say “Here I am”.  Hopefully their owners will email me.

If you find something you would like me to see, you can contact me at wallym@svcable.net.   I would love to hear from you.

by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer Corp.
Townshend, VT – USA
Photos by Linda Laughlin

 

 


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July 07 2013

Has Anyone Seen My Lazy Hound Dog?

by Walter Meyer

“If You Build It – They Will Come” is a well known saying.

I built and sold them and now I wondering what happened to them.

I’m talking about stuffed toys.  I was a stuffed toy designer from the late 1950s to the early 1980s – about 25+ years.  The Lazy Hound was one of my favorite designs.  Probably because it was one of my best selling creations. 

My Mother was Mary Meyer of the Mary Meyer stuffed toy company.  The company has been making “stuffed stuff”, mostly stuffed toys, for 80 years.  Mary Meyer stuffed toy company is a family business started by my Mother and Father in 1933. I continued managing through the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s.  My four sons took over in 1985 and manage it today.

 

Lazy Hound from Mary Meyer 1960's

Lazy Hound from Mary Meyer 1960′s

My favorite job was creating new designs. How do you do that?  Well, you look at what has been successful and you go from there. You experiment with new ideas, new fabrics, possibly new colors and try and create something you like, that’s not the same old teddy bear.

That’s how the Lazy Hound came into being.  I wanted a body that was different and the lazy, lying body concept looked good.  I wanted either a cat or dog, because they are the most loved pets, people have.  I can’t do a “Lovable Spider”, because who wants to take a Spider to bed with them.  It should be warm, cuddly and lovable.  So the Lazy Hound came into being.

His colors are Cocoa Brown like many everyday pups.  His ears and snout were a contrasting color.  Blue buttons on his chest, Large Red tongue, and a light Blue satin ribbon finished a nice color combination.  I was totally happy with his design.

The Lazy Hound went into production in 1965 and sold for over 10 years, until the late 1970s.  We sold over 1,000 a year for over 10 years.  There could be 10,000 Lazy Hound in closets and attics all over the USA, but I haven’t seen one in years.  If you check on ebay and search for stuffed animals, as I just did,  you will find 314,263 on website for sale.  

314,263 Stuffed Animals for sale on one website. Add Amazon, etc.  How many other websites have stuffed animals for sale?

How many stuffed animals are sold in the USA each year on website and in stores?  Millions.

How many stuffed animals are in attics and closets waiting to be found again, after being discarded after many years of love. Million and Millions.

People don’t throw stuffed animals away.  Yes some get lost each year.  A few are discarded and sent to thrift shops.  But the vast majority are saved because they are loved and are the prize possession of a youngster, now grown into an adult.

That’s where my Lazy Hounds are hiding.  In closets, attics and in suitcase and laundry bags of every youngsters once-loved stuffed toy pals.

Hey, you out there!

Do you have my Lazy Hound sleeping in your attic?  You can’t just forget him.  He was your pal, your buddy for many years and you can’t just abandon him sleep forever in some remote bureau.  He deserves a place of honor in your life.  Show him to your kids and maybe grand kids.  He was your best friend and should be where you can continue your friendship for years to come.

Anyone finding a Lazy Hound, please email me at walter_meyer@marymeyer.com and send me a photo if you can.

Sincerely,

Walter Meyer

 

 


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July 05 2013

Are There Any Giant White Shaggy Dogs Out There?

by Walter Meyer

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 challenWhite Shaggy Dogge.

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 walter_meyer@marymeyer.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


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July 01 2013

Mary Meyer Humpty Dumpty Stuffed Toys

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.  

MM Vin 299 Humpty Dumpty Border Right HWhy 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.

MM Vin 299 Shake Me H Border RightThese 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 – at walter_meyer@marymeyer.com

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


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February 08 2013

Have You Ever Wondered Where All the Vintage Stuffed Dolls Are Today?

by Walter Meyer

I’ve spent most of my life designing and manufacturing stuffed animals and dolls. I took over the job from my mother who was Mary Meyer of the Mary Meyer Manufacturing Company, which was known by most simply as the Mary Meyer stuffed toy company.

Mother and dad, Hans Meyer, started making toys and pin cushions at the company they started in 1933 inNew York City.

I grew up in the family business my entire life. When I was a youngster in the 1940s, I began to pay close attention to the family business. My parents put me to work doing a variety of labor tasks at the company like sweeping floors and other odd jobs around the factory. Of course, that was normal in a family business back in those days. I worked fulltime for 58 years at the Mary Meyer Company and continue to dedicate some of my time to the company today where we still proudly own and operate our family business inVermont.

For the past few months, I have been trying to reconstruct how my mother designed her plush toys and what type of toys she made in the early days.  Mother told me a number of times that when we were manufacturing toys in New York Cityat 3 West 29th Street – just offFifth Avenue – she had 108 girls making items for the company.  But the question is, “What did they make?”

 

Mother and dad started Mary Meyer Mfg. Co. in 1933 during the depression.  Mother was a very successful seamstress and could sew anything.  She worked for Miss Carroll, a high-end ladies dress maker who made $3,000 dresses for wealthy women in the early 1930s.   Dad was a great salesman.  He sold Fuller Brush Company products and was quite successful.

 

My parents were a natural team.  She created it, and he sold it.  Now what did they make and sell?  I can go back to the early 1940s and find stuffed animals, but before that in the 1930s, they made stuffed animal pin cushions and Tomato pincushions.

 

I never asked my mother how she designed the soft products that she made in the early days.  Being a designer myself, I can understand the progression or evolution of design work. Mother began the business with the Tomato Pincushion, then moved to designing the Animal and Doll Pincushions then onto stuffed animals and stuffed dolls. 

 

In the 1930s almost every woman sewed – dresses for herself and her daughters and possibly shirts and shorts for the boys.  Since women sewed so much, they needed a way to keep and store their pins and needles, so a Tomato pincushion is what they began using.  After begin successful with the Tomato pincushion, mother went a step further in her design work. Using her design talent, she took that Tomato pincushion shape and with a little innovation she was able to design a Scottie dog, Lamb, Horse and a Doll pincushion.  These all became early Mary Meyer pincushions.

 

During the past few months, I have put together a collection of vintage Mary Meyer Pincushion Dolls.  These dolls were found on the Internet and from different parts of theUnited States.  It makes sense that these pincushions were found from so many different locations because dad traveled the Eastern half of the U.S. and sold the Mary Meyer products to department stores like Marshall Field’s in Chicago; the J.L. Hudson Company in Detroit; the Hecht Company and Woodward & Lothrop in Washington, D.C.; F. W. Woolworth 5 & 10 Cent Stores; and many others

 

But in the mid1930s, what did those 108 employees make for Mary Meyer Co.?

I may have found part of the answer.  What I found are they made both pincushions and dolls.  Some of these dolls have a loop on top of their heads for hanging.  (See the nearby photo.) It is easy enough to hang them by placing a straight pin on the wall in front of a work area and store pins and needles there.  Looking at the photo here, you can see the second doll down on the right column dressed in red is loaded with pins by a sewer who needed a place to keep them.

 

By looking at all of the pincushion dolls in the photo, you can see my mother’s evolution of her design work. The design elements are refined each time she made a different style of doll.

 

If you are wondering how I found these pincushions, they were on Internet sites.  When I went to the eBay website, there were 5,539 pincushions listed.  More than likely, none were made by Mary Meyer as those are few and far between.  But after all, we are talking about dolls that were made 75 years ago and probably sold for 49¢ to 79¢ each in the 1930s.  How many of these vintage pincushions are people hanging on to today.  Possibly more than we think. At the top of the photo is a hang-tag that was on many of Mary Meyer dolls.

 

If anyone who reads this happens to have a doll pincushion or an animal pincushion please email me with a photo of it and where you live.

 

Those dolls and animals are part of “My Family” and I love to see them and find out more about where they are today.

 

You can email me at  walter_meyer@marymeyer.com

Thanks for listening to my story

Sincerely,

Walter Meyer


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