Meet Towser, a stuffed rabbit that was made in England! He sports velvet red trousers and was fashioned from mohair. Towser is a very special rabbit designed by Nora and was one of her earliest designs first appearing in the “Nora Wellings” catalogue in 1927. Here is the fascinating history of his origin and the maker.
Norah Wellings who started her career with “Chad Valley” (known later for their Teddy Bears) in “1919” became one of the chief doll designers as she was extremely talented. Her brother Leonard Wellings was also an artist well known for his plastering skills who owned and operated a shop in Wellington, Shropshire, England. When Norah left Chad Valley it was Leonard who suggested Norah rent a room in his building to make Cloth Dolls and Soft Toys. Norah accepted and moved into the premises in “1926” employing only six women and called the small factory “The Victoria Toy Works”. She designed all of the dolls and soft toys herself and her company was known as “Manufacturers of Soft Fabric Toys and Novelties”. Leonard promoted her business as well as continuing his own plastering firm.
It was an exciting time for Norah in 1927 as she attended her first British Industry Toy Fair where her creations were shown for the first time with great success. The business grew very quickly and they soon outgrew the building where they started. In 1929 they purchased a Baptist Chapel on King Street, Wellington, which was expanded through the years. At the peak of her success in the “1930’s” two hundred and fifty people were kept busy with employment. Norah was also one of Britain’s leading doll exporters with over 70% of her sales going overseas which contributed to why these renowned dolls are found all over the world. Many of these products were also sold to vacationing customers traveling on a cruise ship to be purchased as holiday souvenirs.
Sadly, Leonard Wellings died in “1959” at the age of 67. Norah not only lost her brother but her business partner and best friend. She decided it was time to retire and on September 4th, “1959” her employees were given two weeks’ notice and production ceased. Norah spent her retirement doing the things she enjoyed that included painting, cooking and gardening. She passed away in “1975” at the age of 82. Her creations live on and are still enjoyed by the lucky recipients that have a chance to own a special piece of history.
Towser is not commonly found especially with the burgundy colored trousers. His face is adorable and I believe he has glass eyes. Mother of Pearl buttons hold up his suspenders and he has a crimson red hand stitched mouth. Towser’s floppy ears lend special personality that is all his own.
There are areas of mohair loss throughout but his face is 90% intact. A “make-do” repair can be found on the left hand side below the shoulder and upper arm area done in black thread as shown in image 7. A small rip is also present on the back of his right pant leg mid-way down as referenced in image 14. He is probably stuffed with excelsior or could be kapok filled. The makers tag is located on the bottom right foot as shown in image 10.
Towser is actually a standing bunny but with some assistance can be coaxed into a sitting position. He loves making new friends and would look terrific displayed with a basket of eggs for the Easter holiday. Children will adore him! He can also be set in a basket with your other cloth animals perhaps placed on a lonely chair in your bedroom. Enjoy!
Stands 8 ½” tall, measures 7” across (right to left end of arms) and measures 4 ¾” across the end of his trousers (bottom).