ROCHESTER, NY – Gund has donated a comprehensive collection of plush figures and soft toys to The Strong in Rochester, NY. The collection, along with donated corporate records, document the history of the company beginning in 1927.
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.
Founded by German immigrant, Adolf Gund, in Norwalk, CT, in 1898, Gund used premium fabrics to manufacture stuffed animals. In 1925, Gund retired and sold the company to a business partner, Jacob Swedlin, who retained the name, and in1947, the company introduced licensed plush toys in partnership with Disney, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Dumbo, Snow White, Mary Poppins, and more.
By 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 continues to sit as the company’s president.
“Through the decades, Gund has pioneered innovations in safety and manufacturing, setting standards in the plush toy industry,” said 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.”
Raiffe added, “For more than 100 years, Gund plush toys have delighted both Americans and global consumers. I am grateful that this history will be preserved for future generations by a world-class institution like The Strong.”