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The Kay Bojesen Monkey information and price guide

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The Danish designer Kay Bojesen (1886-1958) was a master of wooden crafts and is fondly remembered for his playful and imaginative approach to design, particularly for children. Best known among his creations is the iconic wooden monkey toy, a timeless piece that exemplifies Bojesen’s philosophy that design should be round, soft, and feel good in the hand. We take a look at the classic Kay Bojesen Monkey with a short history and background, and look at a some prices and values of vintage, original and special editions. The monkey is still being produced today.

A c1960 Wooden Monkey designed by Kay Bojesen stamped KAY BOJESEN DENMARK COPYRIGHT
A c1960 Wooden Monkey designed by Kay Bojesen stamped KAY BOJESEN DENMARK COPYRIGHT. Sold for £520 at Sworders, January 2014.

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Bojesen originally apprenticed as a silversmith under the renowned Georg Jensen. Despite this early start in metals, his passion and most enduring legacy would be in wood. Bojesen’s approach to design was deeply humanistic; he believed in creating items that brought joy, were engaging to interact with, and possessed a timeless aesthetic that appealed to both children and adults alike.

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His was inspired to create toys with the birth of his son Otto, and his intention was never to create exact replicas of wildlife, but rather to produce animals whose designs reflected a child’s view of animals.

70th Anniversary Kay Bojesen limba wood and teak articulated Monkey figure.jpg
A 70th Anniversary Kay Bojesen Monkey in limba wood and teak

Introduced in 1951, the wooden monkey toy has become synonymous with Danish design and Bojesen’s playful design ethos. Crafted from teak and limba wood, its movable limbs and expressive face allow it to take on a life of its own, embodying Bojesen’s belief that good design is something that brings joy and imagination into everyday life. The monkey can assume various poses, hanging from a bookshelf or sitting on a table, making it a versatile and engaging companion.

Vintage KAY BOJESEN monkey
Vintage KAY BOJESEN monkey. Sold for $780 (£613.67) on ebay, February 2024.

The monkey was not merely a toy but a piece of art that demonstrated Bojesen’s skill in woodworking and his understanding of form and movement. Its design simplicity, which hides the complexity of its construction, is a hallmark of Bojesen’s work, reflecting the broader principles of Danish design during the mid-20th century—functionalism, simplicity, and craftsmanship. Beyond the monkey, Bojesen’s oeuvre includes a charming menagerie of wooden animals, such as elephants, rabbits, and bears, each with its own character and appeal. However, the monkey remains his most beloved creation, having earned a place in homes and hearts worldwide.

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