04 November 2010

Mary Meyer Stuffed Toy Horse

Mary Meyer – the stuffed toy company was founded by my Mother and Father.  I have many great memories of them and the business they started in 1933.

The company was started in New York City, moved to New Jersey in 1937 and to Vermont in 1944 and we have been here ever since.

Mary Meyer was the creative genius who made new designs for her salesman husband Hans Meyer, to offer to his customers all over the eastern USA.  Hans was my Dad and traveled over much of his territory by train in the 1940’s.

In the Mary Meyer museum in Townshend, VT I have a number of toys they made in the late 1930’s and 1940’s.  One of my favorites in a Red stuffed toy horse made of oil cloth.  If you don’t remember oil cloth, it was used to cover kitchen tables in the 1930’s and 40’s, because it could be wiped clean very easily.

My parents and other toy companies used oil cloth to make toys, because the toys could be wiped clean, when they became soiled or dirty, just like the kitchen table cloth.  It came in many colors and my Dad would have a cotton fabric that he especially liked to be coated with the plastic-like resin to create a fabric called oil cloth.  Oil cloth was used for raincoats, as it shed water very well.

Getting back to the Red horse, in the mid 1940’s we made this Red horse about 4 to 5 inches high with silk screened decorations.  The body parts of the horse were first cut out and then silk screened using White decorations for the horse’s harness, eyes and noses, hoofs and saddle. 

The ears were made of a plastic fabric, a solid color center piece created the horse’s forehead and a White cotton mane and tail were sewn in.   The horse was sewn wrong-side-out, then turned right-side-out and then stuffed by hand with cotton stuffing material.  The opening through which it had been stuffed and turned was then sewn closed.  Sewing this opening closed was not an easy job.  Oil cloth tended to tear as the resin coating made the fabric fairly stiff.  The important thing was the toy was great for kids as it could be washed  and wiped clean.

Some of the other animals we made at the time were stuffed toy Zebras, which had silk screened Black stripes on a White body.

I am always looking for early Mary Meyer products, especially from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  If you have ever seen one of these please email me at walter_meyer@marymeyer.com.

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2 Responses to “Mary Meyer Stuffed Toy Horse”

  • 1 susan jackson Says:

    hello,i was 4 when i had a similar toy(1948)and oilcloth but bridle and saddle was white outlined in blue..i called him yankee doodle..did your folks make that version..?

  • 2 Walter Meyer Says:

    Hi Susan,
    Sorry I did not get back to you sooner.
    It’s hard to tell if my Mother made your Oil Cloyh Horses or not.
    There were one or two other toy makers who used oil cloth in the 1940s.
    For us it did not last longer than 10 years because we went from cotton goods,
    to oil cloth to plush – whaat we used today. That oil cloth period was ten years at the most.
    This is our 80th year in business and it’s still a fun business.
    Best Regards,
    Walter Meyer

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