Saturday, 4 May 2013
bonzo dog, bonzo soft toy, bonzo studdy dog, george studdy, sketch magazine

I am posting here a picture of my Bonzo Soft Toy above.
Quite a few companies started making Bonzo Soft Toys after the success of the
Bonzo illustrations in Sketch Magazine, created by George Studdy.
Deans Ragbook, Chad Valley, Chiltern, Merrythought, and Steiff all made Bonzos.

    One black ear, one white ear, a few black spots, a stub of a tail and big blue eyes are the distinguishing features of that laughing pudgy pup called Bonzo.  In the early 1920's Bonzo reigned supreme.  He was the envy of politicians, film stars, and beautiful women.  His features beaming down from innumerable posters plastered across the world became an institution.  He appeared in films and on the stage, and he was the sole subject for a series of art portfolios.  He was also the inspiration behind the manufacture of a multitude of highly commercial merchandise such as toys - both cuddly and mechanical, ashtrays, pin-trays, trinket boxes, car mascots, jigsaw puzzles, books, calendars, sweets, and a profusion of postcards.  Everyone, no matter what their age, adored the little dog with the crinkly face, golf-ball nose, and big feet. 
    Bonzo and the situations his creator George Studdy put him in made him into a kind of 'Everyman', a comforting 'man-in-the-street' symbol which denounced all forms of pomposity.  He drank, gambled, and had a wicked eye for pretty women, but Bonzo was never violent, never spitefully unkind, and never repulsively offensive. 
    Looking back at the pre-1922 Studdy sketches of dogs it becomes clear that the original concept for a mischievous pup was born around 1911 - possibly earlier.  The first dog which, as Studdy put it, "could run by itself" appeared in Pearson's Magazine.  The drawing depicted a running hound with a wasp sitting on its tail and was captioned "When you are on a good thing - STICK TO IT!".  It was also produced as a framed print, together with a companion picture titled "If you see a good thing - GO FOR IT!". 
    This unnamed dog continued to appear in various Studdy sketches, and gradually became a regular feature in The Sketch magazine.  It was from this magazine that Bonzo finally sprang in 1922, and he never looked back. 
    By the mid 1920's booksellers, stationers, toy shops, and the big department stores were selling a huge variety of Bonzo products.  A.V.N. Jones & Co. of London produced two series of jigsaw puzzles, (thirty-one puzzles in all) each having a different colour picture of Bonzo, and consisting of "100 pieces on the interlocking system in Satin Walnut"!  When assembled, the picture measured 10 x 7 inches, and the cost was three shillings and sixpence (about 17½ pence today!).  The same firm made a range of ashtrays and pin-trays in a brown semi-porcelain, with a gilt edge and a black transfer print of Bonzo in the center. 
    Motorists could decorate their cars with Bonzo mascots, made from either chrome or brass.  One maker produced a wonderful mascot of him galloping like the wind.  It was named 'The Telcote Pup' (after the manufacturer), was about 5 inches long, and sold for 3 Guineas in 1923.  Confectionery manufacturers designed lollipops, jelly babies, chocolate bars, and sugar fondants in Bonzo shapes, and special Bonzo tins to sell them.  A profusion of soft toys appeared in the toy shops for the very young, and pull-along tin toys for toddlers.

Chad Valley gained the rights in the early 1920's to begin producing a range of velveteen soft toy Bonzo dogs.  They proved to be a very popular item, and many different varieties were produced - some quite simple and unjointed, others with jointed head & limbs.  Some had stitched faces, others were moulded & more detailed.  All of them had their facial expressions painted onto the velvet base.  Each was finished off with a leather-effect collar with the company's celluloid button trademark on it, which gave the company's name and hometown and the name of the toy.  The earliest Bonzos had a button with the name Bonzo on it & a metal edge surround, the later & more common buttons were just celluloid.

This is a Chiltern Bonzo, based upon the early Studdy Dog, similar in facial looks to my dog.

looks like my Bonzo here, with the red bow..
see link -

This Bonzo sold for close to £1000 in 2007 at Christies. It is very rare to find a Bonzo Dog with a swing tag.

My Bonzo Perfume Bottles


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