WG Holmes went into partnership
with GH Laxton. Although the demand for mohair, for use in
clothing and furnishings, had declined Holmes & Laxton
made mohair yarns in a small spinning mill in Oakworth, Yorkshire
||Holmes & Laxton buy Dyson Hall & Co. of Huddersfield,
a weaving company, to use that mohair yarn.
Merrythought was founded and the trademark
registered. Premises were leased at Coalbrookdale (now Ironbridge)
in Shropshire. Holmes & Laxton hired AC Janisch, who had
been in charge of sales at JK Farnell, and CJ Rendle from
Chad Valley. Rendle brought with him a number of other experienced
workers including designer Florence Atwood.
||The first company catalogue was produced and introduced Merrythought's
first range of teddy bears with designs by Florence Atwood.
||After expansion became the largest soft toy factory
||During the war the factory was requisitioned for map-making
so Merrythought moved to temporary premises in Wellington and
make textiles for the armed forces
||CJ Rendle died. Florence Atwood died. BT (Trayton)
Holmes (son of WG Holmes) joined the company
||An automatic stuffing machine, using compressed
air, was purchased and imported from America
||Merrythought bought their factory premises from
||Oliver Holmes, son of Trayton Holmes joined the company. Oliver
is now the Managing Director.
||Merrythought shop and museum opened
Merrythought unable to remain competitive. Goods produced abroad had the advantage of lower manufacturing costs and overheads. Merrythought ceased production on 27 November.
On 14 December Merrythought Toys Limited (by now Smudged Limited) went into voluntary liquidation.
||On 24 January Merrythought Limited purchased assets of Smudged Limited. Merrythought born again with intent of producing a smaller range of soft toys aimed more at the collectors market.
These are just a few examples, visit our Vintage
Bears or our New Bears web pages where, depending on availability, you will find more Merrythought
In addition to "normal" teddy bears Merrythought produced
Bingie bear, a sitting bear cub but with jointed head and
arms, Bingie appeared in Merrythought's first catalogue along with
another called Tumpy who was made from a soft wool
plush with a white nose and chest. Tumpy only appeared in the first
two catalogues and would be a rare find today but Bingie continued
until 1938. A family of dressed Bingie bears appeared in 1933: a
Granadier Guardsman, Highlander and Sailors - all of whom had mohair
heads and paws but their bodies, beneath clothing, were made of
brushed cotton. The Dutch Bear was introduced in
1938, it's head, arms and body was made from alpaca and he wore
wide corduroy trousers.
Punkinhead was commissioned in 1950 by Eatons,
a department store in Canada. The body was made of brown mohair
with a gold mohair chest and ear linings and velvet muzzle. His
white mohair top knot is very distinctive. He wore felt shorts,
which are often missing today. Punkinhead is considered to be the
forerunner to Cheeky.
One of the most popular Merrythought bears is Cheeky
who was designed by Jean Barber and introduced in 1956. Cheeky has
a large round head and velvet muzzle. A whole range of Cheeky bears
have been produced: originally made in gold plush and gold mohair
or art silk plush with bells in his ears. There have been Cheeky
bears with musical movements, Cheeky muffs and glove puppets. In
1966 Mr and Mrs Twisty Cheeky were introduced, they had an internal
frame that could be twisted into different positions, only the head
was made of mohair and the remainder of the body appeared dressed.
Cheeky is still made today and Merrythought provide a website which
allows customers to design a personal bear made from a wide range
of coloured mohairs.
- Teddy Bears produced in the 1930's were marked with a celluloid
button in the ear
- Earliest cloth tags read:
IN ENGLAND BY MERRYTHOUGHT
- From 1930's to 1957, the cloth tag on foot read:
MADE IN ENGLAND
- After 1957, the cloth tag read:
MADE IN ENGLAND
- Nose: vertical stitching with the outermost stitches on each
side being elongated and extending downwards until the 1950's
- Paw pads of early bears may have webbed stitching
- Muzzle: usually shaved before 1960's
If you would like to know more about Merrythought visit
our bookshop where you will find "More Merrythought Magic"
by Pat Rush. It's a hardback book containing 200 pages packed with
information about Merrythought bears, koalas and pandas and numerous
colour photographs. I would recommend this book to those with a
specific interest in Merrythought bears.