May 03 2017

History of Mary Meyer Stuffed Toys

by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer Stuffed Toy Lamb

#118 Mary Meyer Lamb

Mary Meyer Mfg. Co. was founded in 1933 by Hans – a salesman – and Mary Meyer a seamstress. They were married and started the business in New York City.
Hans had been a very successful Fuller Brush salesman and Mary had worked for Miss Carol – a high-end women’s clothing maker.

In the early 1930s when they started most women’s and children’s clothing were made by the mother or grandmother in the family.  Each woman had a sewing machine and all the needs to make a dress, a shirt or children’s clothing.  Each woman had needles, thread and a tomato pin cushion to hold their pins and needles.

Mary Meyer created a new pincushion design when she made animal pin cushions.  Dogs, cats, lambs and horses were the first animal pin cushion designs, followed by a camel, giraffe and dolls as pin cushions. They were all made of cotton fabric and stuffed with cotton batting.

Mary and “her girls” made them and Hans sold them to Woolworths, Kresge, Kress and all of the 5 & 10 cent stores.  The retail price was 49¢ . Hans also sold to the major department stores of the day- Marshall Field, JL Hudson, Hecht Co, etc.  Hans travelled all over the Eastern US by train carrying his sample case of animal pin cushions.  He also visited the buying office of the major chain stores in New York City.

Though pin cushions were their main product, Mary created some baby toys. Using her animal designs, she made the toys from oil cloth, the same material needed in kitchen table cloths. The toys could be washed off and were clean again.

By early 1940s, with cats and dogs made from oil cloth, Mary had created washable toys for children that Hans would sell.  In the mid-1940s, Hans developed stomach ulcers from the stress of business and the family decided to move to Vermont and live a quieter life.

But in 1948 Hans and Mary Meyer restarted their business. With a small staff of local sewers Mary taught them to make her pin cushions. Hans went back to selling his old customers and the business took off again.

In the late 1940s, Mary found some plush fabric. Plush was the imitation fur fabric and Mary started with her old designs and made them with plush.

In 1950 Mary Meyer printed their first black and white catalog of plush toys and they were off and running.

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April 26 2017

My Life At Mary Meyer Stuffed Toys

by Walter Meyer

I’ve spent 50 years of my life here at Mary Meyer.  I started quite young because Mary Meyer was my Mother. I took over the designing in 1960 and did it until 1985, when my son Steven took over.
I created New designs while we were manufacturing here in Vermont. Steven took over when we took our manufacturing over-seas – first Korea now China.
The quality of the stuffed animals coming out of China today can be excellent- much better than what I was making here in 1960 to 1985.
The fabrics today from China are excellent if you are looking for top quality plush. They with-stand wear better, they are softer and more cuddly and they also wash better.
In addition today’s stuffing material washes and dries better. The whole toy lasts longer than previously made stuffed animals we made here.
After a youngster hugs, tugs and abuses a toy for a year, it may really  look awful. But under that ugly, beat up toy, if washed  and brushed, it could look like a fairly decent stuffed toy, because of the high quality of Chinese materials.

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June 14 2015

I Found 65 Year Old Toy Lamb My Mother Made

by Walter Meyer

My Mother made stuffed toy animals for over 50 years.  Her name is Mary Meyer and she and Dad started a stuffed toy manufacturing company in 1933. It’s still going today, managed by her four grandsons.


In the beginning she made animal pin cushions. These were stuffed animals that women stored their pins and needles in during the 1930s and 1940s. She used the same patterns and covered the animals in oil cloth, which was washable. This made a toy that could be washed after a child got it dirty.


In 1949 Mother was contacted by Plakie Toys of Youngtown, Ohio, who made plastic keys and rattles for babies.  They wanted us to make stuffed toys for Plakie to sell along with their plastic rattles to their customers.


I was 18 years old at the time and accompanied Mother to Youngstown by train to show Plakie Toys the samples she made for them.  They liked the samples, placed orders and we were off and running.  Mary Meyer manufactured stuffed plush toys for Plakie Toys under the Plakie label during 1949 and early 1950s.


Two years later Mary Meyer came out with a different assortment of stuffed toys offered under the Mary Meyer label.  Mary Meyer’s assortment or line of stuffed toys grew each year.  An Easter assortment was added, along with Valentine toys and toys designed for Christmas. Before we knew it we were offering over 100 designs.  In the mid 1980s Mary Meyer started manufacturing in the Orient – first Korea then China.


How do I know all of this stuff? I’m Walter Meyer.  Mary Meyer was my Mother.  She passed on in 1999 and saw many of the changes here.  I wish I had asked her more about how she designed stuffed animals and about working with companies like Plakie Toys.


The reason I am interested in Plakie Toys is, last month I found 2 Lambs made by my Mother 65 years ago with Plakie sewn in labels. One came from Indiana and the other Pennsylvania.  They are exactly the same Lambs as Mary Meyer made for her line of toys.


When you grow up in a family business each of these designs is like a member of the family.  You take one look at it and you know it’s yours.   #118 Lamb was White plush with felt eyes and nose with Red satin ribbon. It was a toy that sold for $1.69 in a toy store in the 1950s. We made it through the 1950s and 1960s.  I helped make thousands of them here at Mary Meyer in Townshend, Vermont


Do you have a White Lamb like this?  It might have a Plakie label or a Mary Meyer label sewn into the seam in it’s butt in your attic.


That White Lamb that sold for $1.69 in 1950, I paid $40 for on the internet.  I am very happy to have it, because my Mother and our company made it 65 years ago.

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June 08 2015

Me– Mr. Meyer, Featured in Southern Vermont Adventures

by Walter Meyer

Memorable Mr. Meyer! [profile]

Originally seen in Southern Vermont Adventures

By Don Sawyer
Yours truly has always found particular joy sharing human-interest narratives about real and memorable Vermonters – folks of compelling personality and achievement, people who have enriched our culture and our lives. We’ve enjoyed the cantankerous but lovable West Townshend “Old Goats” with their dry wit and country perspicuity. We’ve been inspired by mesmerizing Putney rib-master Curtis Tuff and gifted Windham woodworker Elden Mills; we’ve been awed by the business ingenuity of Manchester merchant Donald Dorr and Vermont Country Store progenitor Vrest Orton; and we’ve savored the succulent menus of the owners of such delicious destinations as the Arlington Inn, the Blue Benn Diner, T.J. Buckley’s, Chauncey’s, the Dam Diner, Dot’s, Fireworks and Top of the Hill Grill. Today we’re blessed to spend time with Townshend icon Walter Meyer, 84-year-old community legend and entrepreneurial sage.


Walter Meyer keeping company with one of the Meyer bears. (photo by Kayla Rice)

Walter Meyer keeping company with one of the Meyer bears. (photo by Kayla Rice)

Though not a native Catamount, Walter Meyer has lived here happily since age fourteen. His mother, renowned artisan Mary Meyer, grew up in New York City, child of French and German parents. Mary was classically trained in dressmaking but freely explored other sewing venues. Walter’s father, Hans, was a World War I Prussian soldier before passing through Ellis Island and marrying Mary. Hans worked tenaciously as an award-winning Fuller Brush salesman then turned his enterprise to Mary’s highly salable pincushions.


Some of our senior readers may have memories of Mary Meyer’s famous flower-patterned, animal-shaped pincushions which appeared in 1933 at popular department stores like Kresge’s and Woolworth’s. So favored were her creations that Hans expanded sale to most of the east coast.


In 1944 Walter’s dad burned out in his marketing career and, in a quest for romantic quietude, moved his family to Wardsboro, Vermont. Here Hans dreamed of bucolic farm life but soon realized that marketing Mary Meyer products was much easier than living off the land. Yet, the family loved Vermont and was thrilled to find comfortable residence, work space and labor potential in nearby Townshend. Mary abandoned her pincushions for “oil cloth” toys, later “plush” fur animals with stuffing that progressed from excelsior (wood shavings) to cotton to rubber to rayon. Wonderful samples of these early creations can be viewed at Walter’s Route 30 Townshend museum.


A young Walter Meyer flourished in Townshend, at first a bit work-evasive but gradually an industrious horse farm roustabout. So energetic was adolescent Walter that his boss nicknamed him “Speedy” (he humorously admitted that though he loved working with horses he never actually learned to ride them!). Walter was as affable and popular then as he is today, re-elected almost annually as Leland & Gray’s class president. This warmth of personality would ultimately become his greatest asset in the business world.


Walter Meyer’s farm experience primed him for his curriculum of agriculture/animal husbandry at the University of Vermont. It also contributed to future soft animal design work. In  1953 Walter served at Fort Dix where he fused some lifelong friendships and matured considerably. He concedes, “I was a dumb Vermont kid who grew up a lot in the Army.” Upon return to Vermont, Walter observed a soft toy trade in transition. Hans had opened a branch in Germany, eventually overseen by Walter’s 19-year-old sister Lorraine. She’s lived contentedly in Bavaria ever since.


By 1960 Walter had immersed himself fully in the Mary Meyer Company and co-managed it with his mother for 25 years. Hans passed away in 1964, just as the business was becoming more competitive. Worldwide passion for stuffed animals had burgeoned exponentially since early Egyptian dolls and Teddy bears fashioned to honor Theodore Roosevelt. By 1980, plush fur fabric became exclusive and expensive. Simultaneously, cheap labor hosts in Asia began to dominate. Eventually, even Mary Meyer switched production abroad and, two years ago reluctantly closed their Townshend retail outlet.


In 1985, Walter pared his own company status to sales rep. He created and still coordinates a product site called, a special discount milieu for overstocked items. Mary Meyer Company competes favorably against strong foreign firms and noted American outfits like Douglas Cuddle Toys, Gund, TyInc, and Vermont Teddy Bear. Internet sales are sold, and Mary Meyer products temp customers of celebrated stores like Babies Are Us, L.L. Bean, Hallmark and Nordstrom. Well past retirement age, Walter continues to log measurable hours at the computer, generating income for the company and exploring unique product design.


Walter Meyer has replaced himself at the helm with four of his six offspring. Kevin, 54, serves as president, Steven, 53 as marketing and design manager, Michael, 52, as head of warehouse and shipping, and Peter, 51, as computer guru. Son Christopher, 56, once stood in as president but now thrives in Burlington at Great Northern Stereo; daughter Linda, 49, is a successful CPA, also in Burlington. Walter boasts 18 grandchildren to whom he’s infinitely devoted.


Most emphatically, Walter proclaims that none of his business success or personal fulfillment would be possible without the strength, wisdom and commitment of his incredible wife, Elaine, who once supervised the credit department while conducting family affairs of six children! Together, Elaine and Walter have infused themselves into the community while building an international business and establishing a home where the entire family finds solace. Son Steven shared that he and other middle-aged siblings routinely drop by Elaine and Walter’s house for lunch, just as they had done as children.


Walter’s mother, company founder Mary Meyer, passed on in 1999 after 94 vibrant years. She and Hans would indeed be proud of their son’s development of the business. They’d also be pleased that all product design takes place in Townshend with a sensitive balance of traditional Teddy bear styling and whimsical contemporary caprice. Imagine Mary’s reaction to new lines like coral-colored, squishy “Scribbles©” monkeys, kittens, ponies and gators, or ultra-soft “Marshmallow Zoo©” unicorns, lambs, Dalmatians and moose, or brand new “Print Pizzazz©” giraffes, hippos, hedgehogs and seahorses, or “Flip Flop© loons, dolphins, buffalo and longhorns, or maybe even “Sweet Rascal©” frogs, puppies, roos and owls, along with “Fab Fuzz©” foxes, zebras, raccoons and elephants.


Walter has seen his company successfully enter the lucrative baby market with “WubbaNub©” infant pacifiers affixed to pastel-spotted little plush “Nuzzle-Kitties©,” “WagsPuppies©,” “Stretch-Giraffes© and “Bobber-Duckies©.” Mary Meyer Company has expanded sales of padded blankets, cuddly cushions and animal mats while introducing more audio, visual and tactile adjuncts like rattles, teething toys and musical devices The “Taggies©” collection even includes baby boutiques ( thematic packages of blankets, toys, pacifiers and rattles). Walter assured me that all products go through metal detectors, have sonic-welded eyes, receive virtually no paint, lead based or other, and are tested by independent third-party laboratories.


My tour through Mary Meyer Company’s warehouse astounded me. A Route 30 passerby simply can’t see the building’s enormity and complexity. Products are fastidiously ordered, stored, packed, stacked and readied for shipment. A sizeable workforce is necessitated. Mr. Meyer walked me to a room of deep personal meaning to him, the Mary Meyer Museum. Nostalgic pincushions, oil cloth toys, excelsior-stuffed animals and early plush pieces – many made by Mary herself – perch proudly on the shelves. I would encourage readers to make appointment for a visit, just as school groups are invited to do.


Mary Meyer Company is truly a “family business,” a three-generational composite of loyalty, labor and love. With a warm smile Steven said about Walter, “Although he took us on fishing trips, my dad was always about work; business was the life of the family.” And work Walter did, but always with compassion and humility.


Retired soft sculpture artist Dianne Shapiro of Humane Trophies stated of Walter, “About 30 years ago Walter taught me how to do production cutting of plush. That made it easier to produce Humane Trophies on a larger scale! I will always be grateful for his help.”
Townshend Dam Diner owner Stephanie Schryba added, “Walter is an ageless supporter of the people and businesses of Townshend. Since I have been here (20 years), he has a strong presence in the Townshend Business Association and is always quick to lend a hand or advice.”


When I left 84-year-old Walter Meyer after our lengthy interview, he didn’t go home for a nap … he went back to work at the computer and in transit interacted ebulliently with several employees. With similar spirit he has contributed meaningfully to countless community groups: selectboard, school committee, volunteer fire department, EMT crew, lister team, church building committee and more. And the Mary Meyer Company has shared significantly with local benefits and Grace Cottage projects. Most of all, like the 40 or so folks now on staff, many southern Vermonters have found employment due to Walter’s efforts.


Besides creating beautiful pen and ink nature drawings, Walter intends to fill his future with his family, community and business endeavors, as he has always done. We who know Walter will stand by as he forges forward, and we’ll be forever grateful for his contributions to our lives. Mr. Meyer must definitely be cited as one of our most memorable residents, a gentleman you truly must meet.


“Diner Don” Sawyer has been painting classic Americana since 1988. He’s created over 200 prints of diners, drive-ins and  ‘road art,’ as well as New England scapes and scenes. His work can be viewed at his “home gallery” – Zephyr Designs, Main Street, Brattleboro – or ordered at


Originally seen in Southern Vermont Adventures

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June 06 2014

Happy Birthday Cake Stuffed Toy by Mary Meyer

by Walter Meyer

Mary Meyer created a family of stuffed toys called “Food For Thought”.  The “Hamburger” and “Can of Sardines” stuffed toys were some early successes in the group. One of my favorites was the “Birthday Cake”.  The cake was made of 4 pieces of fabric toy cake held together with Velcro.  Each piece was unique in that it created a sound when squeezed.

49401 Birthday Cake 500 2H     The first piece had a sound chip in it that played “Happy Birthday to You” when squeezed.  The other made a rattle, a squeak or a crinkle sound when squeezed.  Each piece had a fabric candle and a fabric flame as part of it.


The Birthday Cake was introduced in 2004 and sold for $19.00 in a retail store.  The toy cake sold for 2 to 3 years as part of the Mary Meyer assortment. It was 6 inches high and quite popular.  Mary Meyer made a few thousand of the Happy Birthday Cake.  Today they are hiding in attics, closets and toy chests throughout the USA.


Mary Meyer is located in Townshend, Vermont and designs, manufactures and distributes it’s stuffed toys to approximately 10,000 retail stores.  The company was founded in 1933 by Mary Meyer and her husband.  This is our 81st year in business and still owned and managed by the Meyer family. 

49401 Birthday Cake Pieces 500 H


 Do you have any Mary Meyer stuffed toys in your attic?  We  has been searching for old toys we made in the 1930s through the 1960s.  If you happen to have an “old Mary Meyer toy”, we love to hear from you and we will tell you what we know about it – such as when and where it was made.

My email is

by Walter Meyer



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May 20 2014

Mary Meyer “Food for Thought” Hamburger Stuffed Toy

by Walter Meyer

     One of Mary Meyer’s most successful stuffed toy designs was our Food for Thought  “Hamburger”, which was created in the late 1990s.  The Hamburger was introduced in 1997 and sold quite successfully through 2005.16626a

     The Mary Meyer Hamburger was made up of  the 2 halves of the hamburger roll with the Brown burger as part of the bun.  To the bun was attached a slice of Red fabric tomato, Green lettuce and Yellow cheese made of shiny plastic fabric.  The cheese, lettuce and tomato were attached to the bun with Velcro and a large button.  This allowed a youngster to have fun assembling and taking the hamburger apart as they played with it.  The stuffing in the Lettuce and cheese make a crinkling sound as they were squeezed by the child.

     Finally when the tomato, lettuce and cheese is assembled and attached to the roll, the roll can be closed to hold the contents inside.  There are seeds embroidered on the top of the hamburger roll. 

    The Hamburger is approximately 5″ across and almost 6″ high.  In the late 1990s it sold for $10.00 in a retail store. Mary Meyer made between 5,000 and 10,000 pieces.  Today they are hiding in closets, attics and toy boxes through out he USA.

Mary Meyer is located in Townshend, Vermont and designs, manufactures and distributes it’s stuffed toys to approximately 10,000 retail stores.  The company was founded in 1933 by Mary Meyer and her husband.  This is our 81st year in business and  we are still owned and operated by the Meyer family. 

 Next weeks Mary Meyer “Food for Thought” will be the Musical Birthday Cake. 16626b


     Do you have any Mary Meyer stuffed toys in your attic?  We  has been searching for old toys we made in the 1930s through the 1960s.  If you happen to have an “old Mary Meyer toy”, we love to hear from you and we will tell you what we know about it – such as when and where it was made. 
My email is 

by Walter Meyer







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May 15 2014

Mary Meyer “Food for Thought” Toy Designs

by Walter Meyer

The Mary Meyer Stuffed Toy company has been making stuffed toy animals for the past 81 years.16631 Sardine Can 250 A

     I am Walter Meyer and our family has been designing and making stuffed toys since 1933. In the late 1950s I took over designing our toys from my Mother – Mary Meyer.  In about 1985 my son Steven Meyer took over the designing from me.

     I asked him a few days ago what are some of his favorite toy designs that he had done. He said the “Food for Thought” group had some really great concepts and he mentioned a few of them.  I gather up samples of the toys he mentioned and had them photographed  for a blog post.

     Steve said one of his favorite toys  was Food for Thought Sandiness, which is a Silver Grey fabric sardine can with a plastic zipper.  The zipper can be wound to open the can. When opened it reveals 4 removable  fabric stuffed toy sardines with embroidered eyes and mouth.

     The “Sardines in a Can” was manufactured starting in 1998 through 2003 and distributed to retail stores mostly in the USA.  The Sardine Can was approximately 6½” long and retailed for $14.98 .  I estimate we made between 5,00 and 10,000 pieces.  16631 Sardine CanB 250 BToday they are hiding in closets, attics and toy boxes though out the USA.

     Mary Meyer is in Townshend, Vermont and designs, manufactures and distributes it’s stuffed toys to approximately 10,000 retail stores.  The company was founded in 1933 by Mary Meyer and her husband, and is still owed and operated by the Meyer family.

     Next week’s Mary Meyer Food for Thought- The Hamburger.

by Walter Meyer




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April 21 2014

Mary Meyer’s Polar Bear – Igloo Reversible Stuffed Toy

by Walter Meyer

For Mary Meyer’s Christmas line in 1994 our
designer, Steven Meyer, Mary Meyer’s grandson,

Polar Bear-Igloo Reverible

created Frigi-Bear, which was a polar bear that could be turned inside-out and became an Igloo.

The Frigi-Bear was made of White plush-toy fabric and was 8” high with Black eyes and nose.  There is an opening in the back of the bear through which you can turn the toy wrong-side-out.  When turned, it becomes an igloo.

In a retail store Frigi-Bear sold for $15.98

Mary Meyer made a few different reversible toy designs, this one being the most creative.

The Polar Bear/Igloo was manufactured during the early to mid1990s. 

Only a few thousand were made so it is not a common, everyday design.  This Polar Bear/Igloo may be in some attics or toy boxes, but the toy is a rarity.

by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer’s son




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April 21 2014

Mary Meyer Musical Elephant with Moving Trunk

by Walter Meyer


In the mid 1960s  Mary Meyer created a Standing Musical Elephant with moving trunk. 
It was
11 inches high, Elephant Stuffed Toymade of Grey plush with White ears, Black/White felt eyes, a Red neck-ribbon and Pink “I’m A Musical”  ribbon tag.
The musical mechanism was made in Switzerland and was wound up with a key.  As the music played the
trunk turned. The moving trunk was a very novel attraction and made the Elephant a top selling toy.

The Musical Elephant retailed for $4.98.  
This Elephant was designed in the early 1960s and was one of Mary Meyer’s best sellers through the 1960s and into the late 1970s. 
We made many thousands of this Musical Elephant.  I am sure there are many of them in attics and toy boxes today.

Today Mary Meyer is still actively creating New designs and offering a whole zoo of stuffed toys for babies, youngsters and oldsters alike.
Mary Meyer is located in Townshend, Vermont and is still owned and managed by the Meyer family.

by Walter Meyer
Mary Meyer’s son


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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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