The Chad Valley Bonzos
Little is known about the Chad Valley company's
two brothers, Joseph & Alfred Johnson, founded a
in stationary in George Street, Birmingham,
England. It was
Johnson Brothers. By 1897 the company was being
run by Joseph
his son, and moved to the village of Harborne near
this time, the company changed it's name to Johnson
the factory was known as the Chad Valley works, after
the nearby Chad
As well as stationary, the company started to produce
They prospered & began to produce soft toys soon
afterwards. A more detailed version of the
company's history can be found here.
In the early 1920's, Chad Valley gained the rights to
a range of velveteen soft toy Bonzo dogs. They
proved to be a
popular item, and many different varieties were produced
- some quite
and un-jointed, others with jointed head &
limbs. Some had
faces, others were moulded & more detailed.
All of them had
facial expressions painted onto the velvet base.
off with a leather-effect collar with the company's
on it, which gave the company's name and home town and
the name of the
The earliest Bonzos had a button with the name Bonzo on
it & a
edge surround, the later & more common buttons were
They had a hand-stitched label on their foot which stated that they were a hygienic toy.
The Bonzos themselves also had a special tag attached to their collar which gave details of the toy & included a facsimile of G.E. Studdy's signature on it.
In 1923, the retail price for the small sitting Bonzo was 8 shillings & sixpence, and the larger jointed, sitting or standing Bonzos were sold for 10 shillings & sixpence.
This jointed version was made with a dummy in its mouth, as if it were a baby!
A bib around his neck was added for extra effect & was held on with his Chad Valley button.
(Both the bib & dummy on this one have been replaced)
He is also 7 inches tall.
Another pair of fully jointed Bonzos, both of them 7 inches again. The one on the left, however, is an amazingly rare example - if you look very carefully, you can see his chest is actually autographed by George Studdy himself!
These are simpler, unjointed versions with a stitched
This cute one is slightly different, having his eyes
He is missing all of his id tags, but is fully
One of the smallest Bonzos, this fella is only 4 inches tall. Only his head is jointed, but as well as his collar & button he still has a tiny hygenic label on the bottom of his left front paw.
The three little ones together