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Soft toy

Soft toy

  • Place of origin:

    Australia (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1960s (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Merrythought Limited (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rabbit fur, plastic and material

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This Koala is an import item made in Australia but expressly for Merrythought Ltd. It has its original cardboard tag tied around its neck. Merrythought is an old term for a wishbone from a bird. Merrythought Toys opened their first factory in 1930 in Coalbrookdale, now Ironbridge. However Merrythought toys first began in 1919 when W.G.Holmes went into partnership with G.H Laxton and a small spinning mill was opened to make mohair yarn for the toys, which was imported from Turkey, South Africa and other areas. Some of the original employers for Merrythought were previously employed by Chad Valley. One particular employer, Florence Atwood, was hearing impaired and mute, and went on to produce the entire range of toys for the first Merrythought line in 1931, some of which are still in production today. She became chief designer for Merrythought until her death in 1949.
MGM studios in Hollywood worked with Merrythought to produce their characters in soft toy form. However by 1960 MGM wanted higher and higher royalties for their copyright characters and so the company stopped producing them for MGM.
Production ceased in the large factories during the war years, however they moved to nearby smaller factory spaces and continued to produce some of their toys.
In 1933 dolls were added to the production line. But by the 1950s dolls were not as important and animals once again took centre stage, particularly pyjama cases. In 1982 Merrythought began to export to the USA to meet the demands of the American teddy bear collector.

Physical description

Soft toy koala in seated position made from rabbit hair with a hard body stuffed inside. The toy has plastic orange bead eyes with a plastic nose and plastic clawed hands and feet. The koala has an orange ribbon around the neck with a cardboard label attached saying 'Made in Australia expressly for Merrythought Ltd Iron bridge'. The label has an image that depicts the outline of Australia. On the reverse of the card there is a short piece of writing about the koala and its traits such as slow moving and tree climbing.

Place of Origin

Australia (manufactured)


1960s (manufactured)


Merrythought Limited (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Rabbit fur, plastic and material

Marks and inscriptions

'Koala bears are slow moving, tree climbing, friendly marsupials, with thick woolly fur coats, large ears and rubber like noses. They live in gum trees and feed upon the leaves. Babies are born at intervals of two years, spending about nine months in the mothers pouch and then on her back.'
This is on the reverse of the cardboard label around the koala's neck.


Height: 21 cm

Descriptive line

Soft toy, koala covered in rabbit fur, made for Merrythought, in Australia, 1960s.


Dolls & Toys; Children & Childhood


Museum of Childhood

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