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Character Novelty Company, Stuffed Animals, Plush Toys, and Puppets

Updated on January 17, 2018

Character Novelty Company, Inc. was a plush toy, puppet, and stuffed animals manufacture in Norwalk, Connecticut. From the 1930s, to the 1980s, the Character Novelty Company thrived. The company was founded by Cesare Mangiapani and Jack E. Levy, and was located at 50 Day Street in South Norwalk, Connecticut.

In June 23, 1936 Cesare Mangiapani patent a method of making toy animal figures from tuft yarn balls with the help of Jack E. Levy who was a partner in the Character Novelty Company. They had created a method of forming plush animal figures that comprised the formation of a wire framework on the inside of the yarn material that would fill out the soft body of the plush animal. The inside was made up of of thick looped metal wire at one end of the material and forming two thick V-shaped wires in the inside of the plush animal structure. This gives the body a metal framework for legs, arms and even a tail if desired or needed to complete the plush figure. This was done in such manner that each limb has an elongated leg of wire that passing the thick "V" shaped metal wires through the loop in the main area of the body, then bending all the wires in such manner that each of the "V" shaped metal wires forms the rear back end and the front end of the legs of the plush animal figure. Within this design the first mentioned wire can be used to form the tail of the plush animal, and thereof it can be looped end together with the other looped portions of the plush animal’s body; and finally the designer stringing the fibrous yarn material upon the framework so forming the soft and loveable plush animal that can stand up and be bendable to any position the owner desires of the toy.

Play time with 1960s Baby Lamb and 1997 Interactive Barney

Bambie, Hand Puppets and Tiger by Character Novelty Co

Bambie, Hand Puppets and Tiger by Character Novelty Co Character Brown Bear, Sleepy Monkey & Valentine’s Bear. Bambi the Deer Character Novelty Company of Connecticut USA ..
Bambie, Hand Puppets and Tiger by Character Novelty Co Character Brown Bear, Sleepy Monkey & Valentine’s Bear. Bambi the Deer Character Novelty Company of Connecticut USA ..

Character Brown Bear, Sleepy Monkey & Valentine’s Bear.

Bambi the Deer Character Novelty Company of Connecticut USA

A beautiful well made vintage "Bambi" hand made deer. This stuffed animal was Designed by Character Novelty Company in the 1950s . This Plush toy was hand made in Norwalk, Connecticut back in the 1950s by folks that knew how to make toys.
A beautiful well made vintage "Bambi" hand made deer. This stuffed animal was Designed by Character Novelty Company in the 1950s . This Plush toy was hand made in Norwalk, Connecticut back in the 1950s by folks that knew how to make toys.

In 1932 Mangiapani & Levy opened Character Novelty Company

It was in 1932 that Caesar Mangiapani and Jack Levy founded and opened the remarkable Character Novelty Company in a very peaceful town call Norwalk in the beautiful New England state we know as Connecticut. They made many wonderful advancements in the manufacturing of plush animals. It was after World War II, with the birth of the population "boom" called the era of the "baby boomers" after the end of World War II that the company grew quickly and started to sell an amazing assortment of beautifully crafted, and hand made toy animals to major department stores across the nation. In that remarkable period, the company sold their plush animals to small toy stores, and also to all the big retailers, and major department stores. The toy stores could not keep the Character plush toys on the shelf's, and many shipping warehouses were selling their Character Novelty plush toys to overseas markets. Character Novelty Company also had their own beautiful and well known showroom in New York. At the peak of the golden ear Jack Levy quit in 1960 to enjoy a peaceful and well deserved retirement. Thankfully the company still existed until the last owner and founder of the company Caesar Mangiapani died in the year 1983.

Bambie has the classic Character Novelty Company Tag

Bambie has the classic Character Novelty Co. tag which tells you all you need to know about this bear, he was made in the fable town of Norwalk,  in Connecticut, and he was made in the golden era of toy making the 1950s .
Bambie has the classic Character Novelty Co. tag which tells you all you need to know about this bear, he was made in the fable town of Norwalk, in Connecticut, and he was made in the golden era of toy making the 1950s .

Character Novelty Co. Bengal tiger, & Bambi the Deer

Bambie has the Character Novelty Co. Bendable & Possible Legs.

Bambie has the wonderful Character Novelty Company bendable and possible legs.  They had created a method of forming plush animal figures that comprised the formation of a wire framework on the inside of the yarn material that would fill out the soft
Bambie has the wonderful Character Novelty Company bendable and possible legs. They had created a method of forming plush animal figures that comprised the formation of a wire framework on the inside of the yarn material that would fill out the soft

The Character Novelty Co. made Captain Kangaroo's Puppets

Captain Kangaroo was always so sedate and calm, but he did have cool puppets that were made by the Character Novelty Company in Connecticut for him for free. I think even Mr. Green Jeans thought that was amazing!!
Captain Kangaroo was always so sedate and calm, but he did have cool puppets that were made by the Character Novelty Company in Connecticut for him for free. I think even Mr. Green Jeans thought that was amazing!!

A 1950s Bengal Tiger Designed by Character Novelty Co.

Here is a beautiful vintage Bengal tiger stuffed animal that was Designed by Character Novelty Co. back in the golden age of toys, the 1950s,
Here is a beautiful vintage Bengal tiger stuffed animal that was Designed by Character Novelty Co. back in the golden age of toys, the 1950s,

This Character Bengal tiger is hard to find in Mint Condition

This Bengal tiger stuffed plush animal was designed and hand made by Character Novelty Company in the glorious age of toy-making the 1950s. It is a great vintage stuffed animal that is hard to find in mint condition with no blemishes or imperfections
This Bengal tiger stuffed plush animal was designed and hand made by Character Novelty Company in the glorious age of toy-making the 1950s. It is a great vintage stuffed animal that is hard to find in mint condition with no blemishes or imperfections

The workmanship in this Character Bengal tiger is Excellent

The workmanship in this Bengal tiger is excellent; the detailing in the eyes and hand stitching shows the care that the Character Novelty Company put into their stuffed plush animals.
The workmanship in this Bengal tiger is excellent; the detailing in the eyes and hand stitching shows the care that the Character Novelty Company put into their stuffed plush animals.

In the photo below is the beloved Mr. Bingle the Snow Man. He was made from the very late 1940s to the mid 1960s by the Character Novelty Company from the original designs of Emile Alline ... A few might have been made later as well ... If you lived in New Orleans from the 1950s through the 1980s, you would know who the elf-like, snowman figure beside Santa Claus was. :) Created in 1947 by display director Emile Alline, Mr. Bingle was figured prominently in the large and elaborate yearly Christmas window display. Character Novelty Company had both a puppet version, and a plush sleeping, and play pal, of the loved Mr. Bingle the Snow Man

Magical Mr. Bingle the Snow Man, Created in 1947 by Emile Alline

Created in 1947 by display director Emile Alline, Mr. Bingle was figured prominently in the large and elaborate yearly Christmas window display. Character Novelty Company had both a puppet version, and a plush sleeping, and play pal, of Mr. Bingle.
Created in 1947 by display director Emile Alline, Mr. Bingle was figured prominently in the large and elaborate yearly Christmas window display. Character Novelty Company had both a puppet version, and a plush sleeping, and play pal, of Mr. Bingle.

In the video below is Character Novelty Co Brown Bear Singing

Here in the video below we have a Character Novelty Company Brown Bear singing his favorite song which is his “All Alone Song”. This vintage Character Novelty Co plush hand puppet is called simply Brown Bear, he has a yellow ribbon… This sweet bear was saved for the attic of my parents’ home before the house was torn down. He is a classic vintage Character Novelty Company hand puppet made for children. This little hand puppet is so cute! He has the classic Character Novelty Co. tag which tells you all you need to know about this bear, he was made in the fable town of Norwalk, in Connecticut, and he was made around 1959 . Character Novelty Company was world renounced for making wonderful stuffed animals, puppets, and plush characters starting in the late 1920s and the company was made a Corporation on January 9, 1959.

The Brown Bear By Character Novelty Company

The Character Novelty Co., Famous 1950s Brown Bear Puppet

The Character Novelty Co. Brown Bear Puppet was on of many animals that because the mainstay of the companies puppet collection. Used in many Kindergartens across the United States these Puppets were made from the 1930s up to the late 1960s.
The Character Novelty Co. Brown Bear Puppet was on of many animals that because the mainstay of the companies puppet collection. Used in many Kindergartens across the United States these Puppets were made from the 1930s up to the late 1960s.

Character Novelty Co. Easter Lamb that plays "Rock A Bye Baby"

Character Novelty Co. Easter or nursery Lamb that plays Music. She measures about twelve inches long, and  when you wind her up and she plays "Rock A Bye Baby" :)
Character Novelty Co. Easter or nursery Lamb that plays Music. She measures about twelve inches long, and when you wind her up and she plays "Rock A Bye Baby" :)

1961 Character Novelty Company Lamb made in Connecticut

Made in 1961 this Character Novelty Company Easter or nursery Lamb is a wind up stuffed sheep and a plush toy. This little lamb was hand stitched and detailed in Connecticut with love.
Made in 1961 this Character Novelty Company Easter or nursery Lamb is a wind up stuffed sheep and a plush toy. This little lamb was hand stitched and detailed in Connecticut with love.

The Character Novity Co, Factory in South Norwalk, Connecticut

Where the Magic happened, 50 Day Street in South Norwalk, Connecticut. Toys and plush animals are no-longer hand made at the Factory, but at least the building is still standing proud.
Where the Magic happened, 50 Day Street in South Norwalk, Connecticut. Toys and plush animals are no-longer hand made at the Factory, but at least the building is still standing proud.

Brown Bear & Sleepy Monkey made by Character Novelty Co.

Character Novelty Co was in business from 1932-1983

Pongo the Monkey, made in 1936 just in time for Christmas

Pongo the Monkey, made in 1936 just in time for Christmas sells of that year. He was the first Character Novelty Company stuffed animal figure using  the special wire patent, which was a method of making toy animal figures with an internal wire frame
Pongo the Monkey, made in 1936 just in time for Christmas sells of that year. He was the first Character Novelty Company stuffed animal figure using the special wire patent, which was a method of making toy animal figures with an internal wire frame

Pongo the Monkey, made in 1936 by the Character Novelty Company

In 1936 Mangiapani patent a Method to make Animal Figures

 In June 23, 1936 Cesare Mangiapani patent a method of making toy animal figures from tuft yarn balls with the help of Jack E. Levy who was a partner in the Character Novelty Company. They had created a method of forming plush animal figures that com
In June 23, 1936 Cesare Mangiapani patent a method of making toy animal figures from tuft yarn balls with the help of Jack E. Levy who was a partner in the Character Novelty Company. They had created a method of forming plush animal figures that com

The Character Novelty Company Method of making Plush Toys.

So as you can see in the two diagrams above and below we can once again refresh the Character Novelty Company secret method of making plush toys. In this new method of forming animal figures created by Cesare Mangiapani and Jack E. Levy you now have a plush animal made with the formation of a remarkable wire framework of strong looping wires at one end. It is these wires that formed a pair of stronger U-shaped wires in such manner that each has an elongated leg to form limbs for the plush animal in the making. These flexible but strong wires passed through the internal loops and the creator of the plush toy animal would then bended all the wires in such manner that each of the internal U-shaped wires would now form the rear and a front legs of the framework for the animal, while the first mentioned wire forms the tail if needed for the plush animal being created. Then with its unbent end and at its other end of the internal body frame it is joined to the loop engaging portions of the remaining wire frame to form the head portion of the internal framework, the plush animal creator then could covering the lower extremities of the legs so formed with rubber tubing and yarn, and bending the same framework upwardly in such manner that rubber covered feet are formed and finally covering the framework with a soft and durable fibrous material.

A Soft Plush Animal that can Stand up & Bend to any Position

Finally the designer stringing the fibrous yarn material upon the framework so forming the soft and loveable plush animal that can stand up and be bended to any position the owner desires of the toy.
Finally the designer stringing the fibrous yarn material upon the framework so forming the soft and loveable plush animal that can stand up and be bended to any position the owner desires of the toy.

Steeply Monkey, sometimes called Scary Monkey.

Steeply Monkey, sometimes called Scary Monkey, Made late 1940s

Steeply Monkey, sometimes called Scary Monkey. She came out in the late 1940s, & was part of the bed time collection of stuffed animals up to 1959. She has the special wire patent, which was a method of making toy animal figures with a internal wire.
Steeply Monkey, sometimes called Scary Monkey. She came out in the late 1940s, & was part of the bed time collection of stuffed animals up to 1959. She has the special wire patent, which was a method of making toy animal figures with a internal wire.

Character Novelty - Brown Bear on Halloween Night

The Character Novelty Company Valentine Bear made in 1955

The Character Novelty Company Valentine Bear made in 1955, the very first Valentine Bear made by Character & was a market success, with a large number being bought by for women and teenage girls for Valentines.  His Ad display said he loves everyone.
The Character Novelty Company Valentine Bear made in 1955, the very first Valentine Bear made by Character & was a market success, with a large number being bought by for women and teenage girls for Valentines. His Ad display said he loves everyone.

Character Novelty Company, Valentine Bear made in 1955

At Character Novelty Co. the Attention to Detail is Amazing

You can see the attention to detail in each plush animal and hand puppet made by Character Novelty Co. This vintage puppet has hand stitching and eyeliner that was applied by hand.
You can see the attention to detail in each plush animal and hand puppet made by Character Novelty Co. This vintage puppet has hand stitching and eyeliner that was applied by hand.

Character Novelty Company Sexy Puppet or So he Thinks He is :)

Cowboy Bunny, "Designed by Character - Character Novelty Co"

 A vintage "Designed by Character - Character Novelty Co" cowboy bunny. He is from 1963 and is ready for your bed time roundup. Hand stitching and loving details are in the Cowboy Bunny.
A vintage "Designed by Character - Character Novelty Co" cowboy bunny. He is from 1963 and is ready for your bed time roundup. Hand stitching and loving details are in the Cowboy Bunny.

Awesome vintage Giraffe Hand Puppet by Character Novelty Co.

Here is a awesome vintage Giraffe hand puppet hand made with love by Character Novelty Co.  The fur is bright and very plush. He has a golden bow that matches his coloring.
Here is a awesome vintage Giraffe hand puppet hand made with love by Character Novelty Co. The fur is bright and very plush. He has a golden bow that matches his coloring.

Captain Kangaroo with Bunny Rabbit who was made by Character

Captain Kangaroo with Bunny Rabbit. Bunny was made by Character Novelty Company. This was an AD that was  part of a seat belt campaign. Bob Keeshan played Captain Kangaroo for many many years on TV.
Captain Kangaroo with Bunny Rabbit. Bunny was made by Character Novelty Company. This was an AD that was part of a seat belt campaign. Bob Keeshan played Captain Kangaroo for many many years on TV.

Pierre the French Crocodile,made by the Character Novelty Co

Pierre the French Crocodile, He likes American Alligator Girls

Character Novelty Company, Pierre the French Crocodile, likes American Alligator Girls. He was made in the USA in 1960 ... He is a well made nine inch plush puppet with a lot of character.
Character Novelty Company, Pierre the French Crocodile, likes American Alligator Girls. He was made in the USA in 1960 ... He is a well made nine inch plush puppet with a lot of character.

1950s Little Dog Plush Stuffed by Character Novelty Co.

Beautiful vintage eleven inches tall plush dog by the Character Novelty Company, made in the United States back in the late 1950s.
Beautiful vintage eleven inches tall plush dog by the Character Novelty Company, made in the United States back in the late 1950s.

The Home of the Character Novelty Company, 50 Day Street in South Norwalk, Connecticut

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    • Glenn Waters profile image
      Author

      Glenn Waters 12 days ago

      Hi Meg,

      You can send me some photos of your teddy bear with the music box in him, and I can see what I can find out about your teddy bear. My email address is in the contact information below my picture above, and here it is again: glenn.e.waters@vanderbilt.edu;

      Thank you for your comment,

      Glenn :)

    • profile image

      Meg Turcios 12 days ago

      Hi, I am trying to get some information on my teddy bear. He has the tag from Character. He used to have a music box in his back. I would love to know about him.

    • Glenn Waters profile image
      Author

      Glenn Waters 5 weeks ago

      Hi Angelia,

      Yes please send me some photos of your Mr. Bingle ..

      I have sent you an email, with my address :)

      Thank you for your comments ...

      Glenn :)

    • Glenn Waters profile image
      Author

      Glenn Waters 5 weeks ago

      Hi Angelia, from time to time a old Character Novelty Company Catalog is sold on eBay, and I have seen some Character Novelty Company "Mr. Bingle's" go for good amounts on eBay as well. I will have to add some Character Novelty "Mr. Bingle" photos to my collection, because at this time I have none. Captain Kangaroo's Bunny Rabbit was a special ordered Character Novelty production with no tags, it was made for his show. So I would imagine that some of the first Mr. Bingle's may have been Character Novelty Company prototypes for commercials, and television shows, and they would not have Character tags on them, and would be very rare, and collectable.

    • profile image

      Angelia Layrisson 5 weeks ago

      Thank you Glenn,

      Are there any pictures or catalogs that you know of from that era?

      We are trying to place the earliest made Mr. Bingle (late 1940’s) and we really can’t find much in this area. Any pictures would be greatly appreciated. We own one of the oldest ones made. There is no tag to tell of a date. I’ve seen some that we believe are dated to 1950’s-1960’s and it has a tag with Characters, Inc Conn. that’s how I found this website.

      Have a great day!

      Angelia Layrisson

    • Glenn Waters profile image
      Author

      Glenn Waters 5 weeks ago

      Hi Angelia, I believe Mr. Bingle the Snow Man was made from the very late 1940s to the mid 1960s by the Character Novelty Company from the original designs of Emile Alline ... A few might have been made later as well ... If you lived in New Orleans from the 1950s through the 1980s, you would know who the elf-like, snowman figure beside Santa Claus was. :) Created in 1947 by display director Emile Alline, Mr. Bingle was figured prominently in the large and elaborate yearly Christmas window display. Character Novelty Company had both a puppet version, and a plush sleeping, and play pal, of the loved Mr. Bingle the Snow Man ...

    • profile image

      Angelia Layrisson 5 weeks ago

      Hello, I’m looking for information on a product that was made by Character. Mr. Bingle is a popular New Orleans icon and was hoping you may information on the years that it was made there.

      Thank you in advance!!

    • Glenn Waters profile image
      Author

      Glenn Waters 6 weeks ago

      Hi Laurie,

      Could you send some photos of your donkey to my contact address, and I will see if I can get a date for you :)

      Thank you for your comment,

      Glenn :)

    • profile image

      Carol Franson-Serra 6 weeks ago

      I have a cat made by Character that I've had for over 50 years. He went everywhere with me, including the Norwalk hospital when I had my tonsils out! My parents lived in Norwalk for many years. My "Character" cat will always be treasured.

    • profile image

      Laurie Crisel 2 months ago

      I have a donkey that was bought for me as a kid. I'm passing it on to my granddaughter and thought it would be great to pass on when it was made. Can ya help?

    • Glenn Waters profile image
      Author

      Glenn Waters 3 months ago

      Hi Samantha, a lot of the eye color changes occurred in the late 1950s ...

      Hello Nita, your stuffed Pluto sounds MINT, a cedar chest sounds like a wonderful place to keep him safe :)

      Hi George, I am glad you still have your Pluto, he definitely is a keeper.

      Hi Chris, thank you for sharing about your Grandfather, Caesar Mangiapani :) What an amazing childhood your mother must have had, and to meet Mr. Disney would have been like a dream come true for a child. I bet those boxes of stuffed animals would be very collectable today ...

    • profile image

      Samantha 3 months ago

      I was wondering when the eye color was changed from all black to black inside with brown around the outside. What year would that make him? He looks exactly like the original except the eye color.

    • profile image

      Nita Stoddard 5 months ago

      I also have a stuffed Pluto, I'll be 78 in Dec. The tag says Pluto Walt Disney Productions Character Novelty Co licensee South Norwalk, Conn. I was trying to date it. I believe I would of received Pluto between 1948 to 1950. He's been in the cedar chest for years!!!

    • profile image

      George K Marshall 9 months ago

      I still have a stuffed "Pluto", and I'll be 79 in November. It still has the "Character", "South Norwalk" label, but I no longer take it to bed.

    • profile image

      Chris Pepin 12 months ago

      Wow very interesting article, I'm the grandson of Caesar Mangiapani. Every Christmas my grandfather would give us boxes of stuffed animals I wish I still had them. He also did the original toys for Walt Disney one of my mother's fondest memoriies was meeting Mr. Disney at the Rainbow room with my grandfather.

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