Monday, 2 December 2013


If you can afford the best of pleasures for your children - or grandchildren - and if you also enjoy high quality art; this is a wonderful example, a great toy, and an enduring investment. You might have to queue behind distinguished customers such as: Harrods; London's toy emporium Hamleys; the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood Bethnal Greeen; the Skirball Museum Los Angeles;  film maker Mike Leigh; author J K Rowling; Rye Art Gallery; and the Devon Guild of Craftsmen - but if so, it will be worth the wait. We bought a custom designed, unique, handmade David Plagerson Ark with 30 pairs of animals for our two young daughters, 37 years ago. It is today worth ten times the amount we invested in it. And even so, we won't ever sell it.

David, the Mancunian, now Devonian (UK); chairman of the British Toymakers Guild, and artist (or "Ark-ist" - The art does stimulate a plenitude of puns) working from photographs, designed our Ark to cleverly reflect the Art-Deco architecture of our 1920's Oxford home, complete with its ivy, grapevine and half-tiled walls. He also crafted in wood and painted our three distinctive cats. Those real cats are sadly long gone but their models remain, as good as new.

Our children and all their friends, and lots of adults, and now our grandchildren have played with our Noah's Ark for years. Nearly four decades on it still looks brand new and all the pairs of animals are intact - except perhaps for Mrs Dodo who may yet be wedged in some child's secret and safe hiding place - or has become extinct. Mr Dodo continues on bravely, but alone. My favorites have changed over the decades, from the Blue Whales and feisty Zebras to the beautifully sculpted, smooth rotund, cream Polar Bears. These too may, like the Dodo, be endangered species.

David's Arks are wonderfully entertaining toys for infants, youngsters and the young at heart. I cannot recall any child who has visited us, who did not enjoy organizing Noah and his Family, and "two of every kind of animal" and marching them into the safety of their great Ark to be saved from God's global flood; usually accompanied with songs - "...the animals came in two by two - the elephant and the kangaroo... And they all came into the Ark; for to get out of the rain." Our set includes the white doves that returned with an olive branch, showing that the waters were receding, Noah's family was saved and that God would send the rainbow.

Our Ark is a real treasure. We have it on display - and it is now the polite and understated subject of  a subtle tug-of-love. Which of our two daughters will inherit it? It surely must not be divided. It must remain intact and will be loved by many generations, over the coming centuries. 

WHERE ON EARTH IS HE? He is in England. South West England; in Devon. Like many of the best artists, toymakers and craftsmen, David Plagerson is self-effacing and cunningly concealed. Try his website - and try his workshop in Devon. If Ronnie answers - she is his wife.

Email :  Phone: +44 (0)1803 866786  
David & Ronnie Plagerson, 
Noah's Ark & other hand made Toys, 
28 Bridgetown, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5AD, UK

...and NO! I am not on commission. I met David in Manchester 48 years ago. I was prompted to write this by a recent article in Country Life - and an urge to protect all endangered species - including our highest quality craftsmen. As Victorian admen might have said it: 

...This is a genuine, unsolicited testimonal from a satisfied customer. 
Buy Now to Avoid Disappointment. 

so - Build an Ark - 


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