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
Character Brown Bear, Sleepy Monkey & Valentine’s Bear.
Bambi the Deer Character Novelty Company of Connecticut USA
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
Character Novelty Co. Bengal tiger, & Bambi the Deer
Bambie has the Character Novelty Co. Bendable & Possible Legs.
The Character Novelty Co. made Captain Kangaroo's Puppets
A 1950s Bengal Tiger Designed by Character Novelty Co.
This Character Bengal tiger is hard to find in Mint Condition
The workmanship in this Character Bengal tiger is Excellent
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
Brown Bear, All Alone, 1960, Character Novelty Company
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.
Character Novelty Co, Brown Bear Singing “All Alone Song”
The Character Novelty Co., Famous 1950s Brown Bear Puppet
Toy Dog on Wheels by the "Character Novelty Co." 1950's to 1960's
The Character Dog's Plush "Fur" is in very Good Condition
He Wears his Blue and white Character ID Tag in his Left Ear.
Character Toy Dog on Wheels, His Measurements are Below
Character Novelty Co. Easter Lamb that plays "Rock A Bye Baby"
1961 Character Novelty Company Lamb made in Connecticut
The Character Novity Co, Factory in South Norwalk, Connecticut
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 by the Character Novelty Company
In 1936 Mangiapani patent a Method to make Animal Figures
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
Character Novelty Company, Sleepy Monkey, sometimes called Scary Monkey
Steeply Monkey, sometimes called Scary Monkey, Made late 1940s
Character Novelty - Brown Bear on Halloween Night
The Character Novelty Company Valentine Bear made in 1955
Valentine Bear made in 1955, Character Novelty Company
At Character Novelty Co. the Attention to Detail is Amazing
Character Novelty Company Sexy Puppet or So he Thinks He is :)
Cowboy Bunny, "Designed by Character - Character Novelty Co"
Awesome vintage Giraffe Hand Puppet by Character Novelty Co.
Captain Kangaroo with Bunny Rabbit who was made by Character
Pierre the French Crocodile,made by the Character Novelty Co
Pierre the French Crocodile, He likes American Alligator Girls
1950s Little Dog Plush Stuffed by Character Novelty Co.
Vintage Character Novelty Co. Cow Hand Puppets - Boots and Buckshot
Boots and Buckshot, Character Novelty Co. Cow Hand Puppets -
The Home of the Character Novelty Company, 50 Day Street in South Norwalk, Connecticut
Doreen on February 24, 2020:
I have a solid brown bear with a wind up music box in his back and a white ribbon tied around him....looking for any info on him
LeeAnn Stremkowski on August 11, 2019:
I have a baby blue and white bear with a tag that says “Designed by Character, So. Norwalk, Conn” it is in the original box, but the cellophane on the window is gone. The bear is a little squished, but in otherwise excellent condition. Does it have any value or should I just give it to my granddaughters to play with. The best estimate is 1930s as it was for my great uncle who died at a very early age of rheumatic fever.
Janene on September 29, 2018:
I got a Teenchy dog with a Character Novelty Company tag at an estate sale. I can't find information on him anywhere. I think it's from Song of the South but I'm suspecting it's from before the Disney movie. I would appreciate any info.
Glenn Waters (author) on August 17, 2018:
Hi Tom, the rabbit was probably from the 1950s or early 1960s, these became very popular for Easter gifts for children, and were carried in the toy departments of upscale department stores during that time. Their are very few left these days, so hold on to her.
Tom Holub on August 17, 2018:
About 25 years ago I saved a velvety rabbit before the house was torn down...It's been in storage till now.....It's pinkish with light brown head and a pink bow....Tag on right ear says Designed by Character...So. Norwalk Conn....What can you tell me about this doll.....?
Glenn Waters (author) on March 17, 2018:
I would use a good upholstery cleaner, the kind that comes in a aerosol spray can, apply it gently, and rub in softly, let dry and repeat if necessary. Do not over saturate might damage the music box inside the little kitty. You could use a hand held blow dryer on a low setting to help re-fluff up her hair. She is beautiful ...
Thank you for sharing,
StephanieShea on March 17, 2018:
I'm so glad I found this article. I bought a music-playing Character Novelty Company cat yesterday morning at an estate sale and had to have her. She's so sweet looking! I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to clean her. The following is an Instagram photo of her!:
Glenn Waters (author) on February 11, 2018:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Thank you for your comment,
Meg Turcios on February 11, 2018:
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 (author) on January 19, 2018:
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 Waters (author) on January 18, 2018:
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.
Angelia Layrisson on January 17, 2018:
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!
Glenn Waters (author) on January 17, 2018:
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 ...
Angelia Layrisson on January 16, 2018:
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 (author) on January 08, 2018:
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,
Carol Franson-Serra on January 07, 2018:
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.
Laurie Crisel on December 21, 2017:
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 (author) on November 08, 2017:
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 ...
Samantha on November 08, 2017:
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.
Nita Stoddard on August 30, 2017:
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!!!
George K Marshall on May 06, 2017:
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.
Chris Pepin on February 18, 2017:
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.