I am still obsessed with Sock Monkeys! Have loved them my entire lifetime! Today we are featuring the history of this very cool doll which has never lost it's "coolness".
The iconic sock monkeys made from red-heeled socks, known today as the Rockford Red Heel, emerged at the earliest in 1932, the year the Nelson Knitting Company added the trademarked red heel to its product.
These socks were originally made by the Nelson Knitting Mills in Rockford, Illinois (hence the name) since 1890, and patented in 1915. When the company decided to include sock monkey instructions with every pair of the Red Heel® socks in the 1950's, the true marketing magic began.
Vintage Sock Monkeys
John Nelson, a Swedish immigrant to the United States, patented the sock-knitting machine in 1868, and began knitting socks on an automatic machine in Rockford, Illinois as early as 1870. On September 15, 1880, the Nelson Knitting Company formed, producing "Celebrated Rockford Seamless Hosiery," and selling them under the name of the "Nelson Sock."
Nelson Knitting added the red heel "De-Tec-Tip" to assure it's customers that they were buying "original Rockford's" as opposed to the generic "Rockford's". This red heel gave the monkeys their distinctive mouth and during the Great Depression, American crafters first made sock monkeys out of worn-out Rockford Red Heel Socks.
In 1953, a woman named Helen Cooke received the patent for sock monkeys. She sued a man named Stanley Levy because he sold sock monkeys but they were not the same design as hers. Levy contacted the Nelson Knitting Company hoping that they would declare the patent invalid.
The company knew that people had been making dolls for the last two years, so they gathered up all the dolls that had been made the past two years so that they could have evidence proving that Helen Cooke should not have the patent.
Helen Cooke settled the case against Stanley Levy when she was shown all the evidence that had been collected against her. She decided to sell the patent to the Nelson Knitting Company for $750. The company also paid other women for the rights to the doll including a woman in Tennessee who was paid $1000. Rockford, Illinois became the "home of the sock monkey.
Homemade red-heel sock monkey dolls usually have unique faces and body characteristics and are considered one-of-a-kind. Sock monkey dolls are also mass-manufactured in the marketplace. Sock monkey dolls mass-manufactured by a company normally all have the same face and body characteristics.
Not all sock monkey dolls are created from red-heel socks. A 2015 trend started to create sock monkey dolls from colorful striped or polka dot socks—even mismatched socks.
The Schylling Sock Monkey Company makes them today and they are very nice. But the homemade ones will always be my favorites. The Schylling Co. makes all kinds of merchandise relating to the Sock Monkey. Here is a very cute Sock Monkey Umbrella
Sock monkeys remain a popular icon and are popular with all ages. They now come in different styles, such as "birthday-themed", different colors, and even electronic ones that sing up-to-date pop songs. Most vintage red-heel sock monkeys found today are no older than the late 1950s, and many date from the 1970s. Read More on Wiki