Toy Company GUND Donates Collection to The Strong
August 7, 2015
For Immediate Release
Toy Company GUND
Donates Plush Toys and Business Archives
to The Strong Museum
ROCHESTER, New York—GUND, a subsidiary of Enesco and preeminent maker of plush toys, has donated a comprehensive collection of plush figures and soft toys to The Strong in Rochester, New York. These products, along with donated corporate records, document the history of the company beginning in 1927.
“Through the decades, GUND has pioneered innovations in safety and manufacturing, setting standards in the plush toy industry,” says Christopher Bensch, vice president for collections at The Strong. “The toys and documents in this collection offer invaluable resources for anyone seeking to understand the history and development of the toy industry.”
The collection includes more than 200 plush figures and soft toys spanning the 1920s through the 1970s, such as Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat. Additionally, the donation includes corporate records and legal papers, such as patents, correspondence, and copyright information; financial ledgers; photographs including those taken by famed photographer Annie Liebovitz for a national advertising campaign; toy patterns; advertising materials; trade catalogs; artwork; scrapbooks; and more. Select materials will be made available to the public in The Strong’s Play Pals exhibit.
“For more than 100 years, GUND plush toys have delighted both Americans and global consumers,” says Bruce Raiffe, president of GUND. “I am grateful that this history will be preserved for future generations by a world-class institution like The Strong.”
German immigrant Adolf Gund founded the company in Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1898 using premium fabrics to manufacture stuffed animals. In 1925, Gund retired and sold the company to a business partner, Jacob Swedlin, who retained the name. In 1947, GUND introduced licensed plush toys in partnership with Disney, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Dumbo, Snow White, Mary Poppins, and more. In the 1980s GUND became the first plush manufacturer to launch a national advertising campaign and popularized the slogan “Gotta Getta GUND!” Successive generations of the Swedlin family led GUND until 1969, when Herbert Raiffe took over as president. The Raiffe family owned and operated the company until its 2008 purchase by Enesco LLC. Bruce Raiffe sits as company president, continuing GUND’s family-owned legacy.
About The Strong
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. Known widely as the nation’s museum of play, The Strong blends the best features of both history museums (extensive collections) and children’s museums (high interactivity) to explore the ways in which play encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history. www.museumofplay.org.