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soft toy - Cloaky

Cloaky

  • Object:

    soft toy

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)
    Africa (The cloth used for the monkey's clothing could have been sent from Africa, made)

  • Date:

    1960s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Luck, Andolie (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    The monkeys are made from ladies stockings stuffed with wool and nylon

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Richard Reddaway and Clare Reddaway, in memory of Michael Jay Reddaway

  • Museum number:

    B.43:1-2017

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This soft monkey toy is called 'Cloaky' and was made in England in the 1960s out of a pair of stockings. The monkey is wearing a floral patterned dress with a striped red and cream knitted top. The monkey has a scrap of cloth in its dress pocket, perhaps to serve as a handkerchief!

Cloaky is one of a set of toy monkeys owned by two brothers in the 1960s. The toys were homemade by a teacher who lived with the family while the boys were growing up. Accompanying the monkeys are three exercise books, written entirely by the brothers, which contain information about an extensive imaginary monkey world that they created during their school holidays. The books have details about day to day life in monkey society, including political struggles, religious views, schooling and tests, cultural events, and the monkey justice system which featured fines and punishments for bad behaviour.

The books and the monkeys give a very unusual insight into the thoughts and concerns of teenage boys in the 1960s. The world they have created is complex in its political and moral structures, showing evidence of wider cultural influences. The books have captured the inner workings of imaginative play, something that is usually intangible and difficult to record, making the objects exciting and important records of modern childhood.

Physical description

The monkey toy has four long limbs with ten fingers and ten toes and a long tail made from brown nylon. It has two ears, two black buttons for eyes which are stitched in place with blue thread, and red stitching in a crescent shape to resemble a smiling mouth. Placed at the lower end of its tail is a child's ring made of silver coloured plastic with a green oval centre.

The monkey is wearing a cotton sleeveless floral dress with a cream background and a pattern of blue and red flower sprigs. The dress has a gathered patch pocket on the proper left front and in the pocket is a small loose scrap of cloth with a floral pattern in brown and orange. The dress fastens at the back with two metal press studs. Over the dress is a short sleeved red and cream striped knitted top.

Place of Origin

England (made)
Africa (The cloth used for the monkey's clothing could have been sent from Africa, made)

Date

1960s (made)

Artist/maker

Luck, Andolie (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

The monkeys are made from ladies stockings stuffed with wool and nylon

Dimensions

Length: 56.5 cm ear to tail tip, Width: 21 cm arms by side, Length: 27 cm dress, shoulder to hemline, Length: 10.5 cm top, neckline to hemline, Length: 12.5 cm cloth scrap, Width: 9.5 cm cloth scrap

Object history note

The toy monkeys belonged to two brothers, Richard (b.1952) and Michael Jay (b.1956) Reddaway, who played with them throughout the 1960s. The Reddaway brothers had a collection of twelve toy monkeys; seven were donated to the Museum in 2013 and 'Cloaky' is one of five toy monkeys donated in 2017. The monkeys had a king 'Ando', queen 'Apex' and various extended family members.

The monkeys were homemade by Andolie Luck, a live-in teacher who resided with the Reddaway family in the 1960s. They are dressed in a variety of outfits made from different fabrics, some of which are African textiles. Andolie had family living in Africa at this time and it was possible the fabric was sent to Andolie by her relatives.

Accompanying the monkeys are three exercise books that contain information about the lives of the monkeys. The books, written entirely by Richard and Michael Jay, record the identity and activities of their toys and the workings of the monkey society that they created. Entries are recorded in census-like listings, longer pieces of prose and in photographs. Monkey life involved things like political struggles, religion, school, tests and honours, entertainment and cultural events, and a justice system with fines and punishments.

These toys and books reveal the role of imaginary play in the lives of younger teenagers and boys. Parallels could be made with role-playing games such as 'World of Warcraft' for the levels of complexity and strategy involved in the monkey society. There is also evidence of wider cultural influences on the boys' play, especially in the plays performed by the monkeys and in the political propaganda produced during the monkeys' election campaigns which involved Liberal, Tory and Communist candidates.

The two brothers both attended boarding school first in Cambridge, then in Northamptonshire and the monkeys and the books took up most of their time when at home in the holidays. Richard Reddaway recalls that most of the family's toys were homemade; they also played with sawn pieces of wood as building bricks, and the garden and grounds of their house were the site of dens and outdoor play.

Descriptive line

'Cloaky' monkey soft toy wearing cream and blue floral dress and knitted red and cream striped top, handmade, owned by Richard and Michael Jay Reddaway, British, 1960s

Production Note

These toys were home made

Materials

Nylon; Cotton; Plastic; Wool

Techniques

Hand sewing; Stuffing

Categories

Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys; Soft toys; Africa

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Museum of Childhood

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