Wagner Labels

The Wagner workshop used a number of labels over the years. The information below comes directly from the Wagner family in correspondence I enjoyed with them for a brief time about a decade ago, when they kindly answered some of my questions that I'd stored up since I was a child.

A Wagner animal typically wears a paper label on its belly, if it's a four-legged standing animal, or simply on its underside if it's molded in a seated position. The dressed animals that stand up on two legs typically have the label adhering to the back of the head. The label can be used to date, approximately, when a figure was made.

Label 1
       Label 1, popularly known as "the monkey-head label," was
       used from 1951 to 1965, when Wagner produced animals
       for the Max Carl toy company in Coburg.

Labels 2 and 3: From 1966 to 1983, animals bore either a round or oval label that read "Handwork K√ľnstlerschutz West-Germany" as well as a stylized F.W.

Label 2
Label 3

Label 4
 Label 4: From 1983 to 1990, the round label disappeared and the wording was changed to read simply "Wagner Handwork West-Germany."

Labels 5 and 6: Upon German reunification, the label was changed again, this time to read "Wagner Handwork Germany," and a larger oval label with a broad red border was put into service as well. These two labels were in use from 1990 until the company's closing in 1998.

Label 5
Label 6

Any other labels that you see would be markers of a different company, such as ones that say nothing more than "U.S. Zone East Germany" or the blue-and-white labels that read "Original Fur Toys."

I have not seen any indication that Wagner ever made these fur toys, though you will often see eBay sellers claiming that these animals are Kunstlerschutz, when actually many German workshops made composition and fur animals (among them the ever-popular "putz stick-leg sheep"). Which doesn't make them poor collectibles--lots of Wagner collectors add non-Wagner German animals to their collections, including me!--but still, truth in advertising is still a virtue.


  1. I began collecting these animals in the early 1970's after my grandmother gave me my first one, a camel. My sister and I both added more to our collection purchased mostly at a local shop in Scarsdale New York.
    I still have my collection.

  2. Thanks for posting all this info on these precious animals. I loved them as a kid. And still do!

  3. Thank you for all your hard work putting this together! It is very much appreciated by those of us that love these little flocked critters as kids AND adults!!

  4. Thank you very much for this wonderful website--it has been so helpful for tracking down my little critters!

  5. I had so many of these when I was little! Mine were mostly the animals dressed up in clothes. I had a ferris wheel, a car, a ballet school, and a playground for them, all made by Kunstlerschutz. My Mom bought them for me at FAO Schwarz in the late 60s, early 70s. Wish there were more pics on the internet of these great little toys.

    1. Wow, you had a great collection! I don't think I've ever seen the Ferris wheel. As for pics I always have the intention of putting more up here on my website, but life and work and such seem to preclude getting that done :)

  6. I just stumbled upon this amazing site..this has been a huge help trying to identify my little critters and the years they were produced...It must have taken you ages to put this all together..thank you so much!

    1. Thanks! Sorry, just seeing this post now! It did take a long time, but it was fun researching it.

  7. Hi, I was wondering if you could help me. I have a bear that is produced by this company that in bought in the 1980's. His little nose fell off and was lost. Do you know of a way that I can find a replacement nose for him? Thanks.

    1. Lost noses, lost antlers, lost ears...yep, these little animals certainly know how to fall apart! I wish I knew where the Wagners ordered all the bits and pieces. Way back in time they kindly sent me some spare parts to fix some animals, but they've been shuttered for more than a decade now. I have a couple of suggestions:
      1. Buy another Wagner on ebay that is cheap because it's an absolute mess, steal its nose and use to glue on your bear's face.
      2. If you know anyone who makes stuff out of Sculpy or Fimo clay, which you can bake in the oven, you can have them make a little nose that way.
      3. Check out etsy...see if anyone makes body parts for gluing on to, say, felted animals (needle-felting artists often make body parts to glue on their creations).

      I'm curious to see if my last suggestion is workable so am going to Etsy myself to check that out.

  8. I have a collection my grandmother brought over for me in the mid-60's (lion, camel, elephant, giraffe, fox, bear, and squirrel). The flocking is worn pretty thin on most of them and the camel has a cracked leg, but they are otherwise in pretty decent shape. I am lightening my load of material goods, and wondering if anyone out there would like to give them a good home? I'd love to see them go to someone who would enjoy and appreciate them!

  9. Hello Katie,
    I'm interested in your collection. I recently started to collect myself, and I am already in love withe these sweet animals. I'm sure I would give them a good home!
    If you're interested, please let me know at Salty.c1@hotmail.com
    Christina, from Antwerp - Belgium

  10. Wow what a great site! My Mom recently came across two mint full sets, a school house and a playground. They both have 5 or 6 bears, along with all of the accessories. She thinks that she bought them at Sears in the late 60s. She's got to go into a home unfortunately, And needs to downsize. I have a feeling they are worth a lot of money, but does anyone know somewhere that could evaluate them? I have a number of pictures of them. Any advice would help. Thank you - Tom - Providence, RI

  11. Hi, similar to last request really. We have recently been given a set of these furry creatures from house clearance of grandparents. They spent several years in Germany in the 60's, the figures have the "monkey head" label, and I would like to know what to do with them. Can I send more details/photos to anyone interested? Set includes: squirrel with tail & pine cone, fox with tail, hare, wild boar, cow, pink pig, Stag & Doe with antlers, baby deer, and a fawn with white spots - 10 pieces. Thanks, Sarah, UK