Monday, April 15, 2013

The Art of Play: The Merrythought Mohair Chicken, 1935

Toy Chicken
Mohair and felt
Merrythought, 1935
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Britain’s Merrythought Toys first opened as an independent concern in 1930 with a factory in Ironbridge, Shropshire. However the Merrythought name first began in 1919 when one W.G. Holmes went into partnership with a G.H Laxton.  Together, they manufactured, in a small spinning mill, a special mohair yarn for the use in making toys.  When the toy factory opened in 1935, Merrythough poached man y of the employees from Chad Valley Toys.

Florence Atwood, Merrythoughts chief toy designer was hearing impaired and mute.
  During a time when such persons often could not find employment, W.G. Holmes welcomed her into his concern.  There, she produced the entire range of toys for the first Merrythought line in 1931 and remained their chief designer for Merrythought until her death in 1949.

The company is still in operation.

Here, we see an early Merrythought toy in the form of a plush mohair hen with a beak, tail and feathers that are all made out of padded felt. 
 The Merrythought logo is sewn underneath on a cream label and reads, “MERRYTHOUGHT, HYGIENIC TOYS, MADE IN ENGLAND.”

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