Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stuffed Creatures Part 3: Edward Gorey Commercial Made Dolls

Our final area of Edward Gorey collectible stuffed dolls & toys is the commercially made items (see my postings from October 6 & 28, 2010 for previous discussions on stuffed toys). The commercial dolls come in several different forms. Some had limited availability, while others were, and occasionally still are, available through catalogs such as Signals.

The rarest of the commercially made dolls is the limited edition Doubtful Guest figure which was created in 1974 under Mr. Gorey's supervision. This doll was discussed fully in my posting on October 20, 2008.

There were five characters created by Toy Works in the late 1970's and 1980. Each bean bag animal features full color printing on fabric, is stuffed with hard plastic beads, and each has a printed copyright date. The animals are printed front and back and the detailing on these pieces is really wonderful.

The Toy Works collection includes a Bat (1980), Cat (1978), Pig (1979), Frog (1980), and a Rabbit (1980).
The Toy Works Bat is the most common of the dolls and one of the most wonderful. The fabric is printed with Edward Gorey's distinctive cross hatching which has been shaded to give the doll more three dimensionality. The eyes of the creature are red rhinestones and the wings are stitched and stiffened. With its 14.5" wingspan, the bat is the largest of the Toy Works collection.
The Toy Works Cat is a favorite amongst collectors. Each 6.5" cat wears a printed sweater with boldly colored stripes. Cats were available wearing orange/yellow or two tone blue sweaters.
The Toy Works Pig is an animal of sartorial distinction. This pant-less farm animal stands approximately 7" tall and is attired in a snappy vest, bow tie, and jacket. Pigs are usually printed with pink skin, but I have a second example with light purple skin.
The Toy Works Cat & Pig were also available as "Sew It Yourself" kits. Unopened kits are fairly uncommon.
The Toy Works Frog is a collegiate fellow and can be relatively difficult to find. Decked out in a letter sweater and tennis shoes, this amphibian is ready for the big game. The frog is approximately 7.5" in length when laid flat and has button eyes. The frog is the most acrobatic of the animals. He can lay flat, drape over the edge of chair, or sit up to watch the game.

The Toy Works Rabbit is by far the rarest of the animals. At approximately 6" tall this snappy fellow is boldly adorned in a green jacket and orange/yellow kilt. When I first encountered a stuffed rabbit years ago at Matthew Monahan's NYC apartment, he told me that this animal was not put into regular production, and very few were created. The fact that I have only seen of three examples in 30 years of collecting reinforces this opinion. The example pictured to the left belongs to a fellow collector.

A Bah Humbug doll accompanied the limited edition of The Headless Bust. Since the book had an edition of 776 copies, there were 776 dolls made. These dolls have tons of personality and can be set about in many different positions.

A small number of extra Bah Humbug dolls were made and were sold individually by Gotham Book Mart. One interesting thing about the Bah Humbug dolls is that some were printed facing left and some facing right. I am not sure which is more prevalent or if there were equal numbers of each.
In 2003, Gund came out with a stuffed Gorey Cat doll. These cats come with different colored, removable knitted sweaters. The detailing on these plush pussycats is fantastic. They look like they stepped right out of an Edward Gorey illustration.

4 comments:

Chloe said...

Do you by any chance know where (other than ebay which I troll for these items regularly) any of these items, other than the Gund cat, could be bought? Thanks so much! This is an EXCELLENT collection- I'm jealous!

ampootozote said...

eBay seems to be the place where the stuffed creatures turn up most frequently...book dealers occasionally have the stuffed animals, but they are all getting harder to find these days.

There is a hand made Figbash and a Gorey bat in the Bloomsbury auction tomorrow...

mechaniglo said...

I've been going through some old boxes that were in storage and came across an unopened Gorey Cat 'sew it yourself' kit-(orange & Yellow) in PERFECT condition. I didn't know that they are such collectible an item!

ampootozote said...

Hmmmm...what else might you have hiding away?! That is a great Gorey find.