The Golliwog began life as a storybook character created by Florence Kate Upton in 1895.
Her book, entitled The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls, was published in London.
Based on a black minstrel doll that Upton had played with as a small child, he was dressed in bright red trousers, bow tie, high collared white shirt and a blue swallowed-tailed coat.
Upton’s ugly little creation was embraced by the British public.
Her book was immensely popular and he became a national star; 12 more books were published but because the Uptons did not copyright the Golliwog, the image entered into public domain, where he became a common character in Toyland books.
He was adventurous, silly and lovable!
The earliest Golliwog dolls were rag dolls made by parents for their children.
During the early 20th century, many prominent doll manufacturers began producing them.
In 1908 Steiff became the first company to mass produce and distribute Golliwog dolls.
Today, these early Steiff dolls sell for £5,000 to £10,000 each, making them the most expensive Golly collectables.
James Robertson & Sons, the famous marmalade manufacturer began using him as its trademark in the early 1900s.
They shortened the name to Golly, made his face more rounded and cute-looking, and by 1910 had a Golly on all their products, as well as giving away badges in return for coupons from their marmalade.
By 1999, Robertson has sent out 20 million badges.
He’s also appeared on pencils, knitting patterns, playing cards, aprons and tea towels.
In today’s climate the Golly is seen as a symbol of racial insensitivity.
Many books containing Gollies have been withdrawn from public libraries and the manufacturing of them has dwindled almost to extinction.
Finally, the resurgence of interest in the Golliwog is not by children, but by adults and collectors, some nostalgic, others with financial interests.
This lonely little golly can be found at GB Antiques Centre for £24.
The tea towel is £3.50.
Allan Blackburn is the owner of GB Antiques Centre at Lancaster Leisure Park. An antiques enthusiast for more than 20 years, his indoor centre now houses 100 dealers over 40,000 square feet, making it one of the biggest antiques centre’s in the country.
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