The 1960's and 70's were years of heightened awareness about
racial issues. Society became intolerant of books and toys that
were perceived as shedding a derogatory light on people of colour.
Poor Golly. He had become one of England's most beloved toys
and suddenly he had been placed on the "most inappropriate"
list. Production of golliwog toys and mementos almost came to
Many did not understand his origins, or realize he had been
unfairly classified. In fact, the Golliwogg was born out of the
creative genius of a mother and daughter team, Bertha and Florence
Upton. It was in Hampstead, England, where the two women decided
to write and illustrate a book for children that would feature
a black figure "Golliwog" and two wooden dolls.
The characters were representative of three of Florence Upton's
toys; a black cloth doll and two wooden Dutch dolls. On page
91 of Enchanting Friends, author Dee Hockenberry states it has
been suggested the dark-skinned natives working with British
soldiers in occupied Egypt played a part in the selection of
the name "Golliwog." The workers wore arm bands initialed
W.O.G.S standing for "Working on Government Services."
It is assumed that Florence Upton added a "g" and created
the word Golliwoggs.
Between 1895 and 1909, the women produced 13 books, the first
being The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls, and the last, The Golliwoggs
in the African Jungle. The Golly, or Golli, as he is also known,
enjoyed such popularity that after the women stopped penning
their books, many other works about the Golly were written and
published in England and America.
In 1908, the Margarete Steiff Company in Giengen, Germany,
produced the first known manufactured Golliwogg. Many other companies,
such as: Schuco, Herman, Deans, Chad Valley and Merrythought,
also produced golly for a growing number of collectors.
Many are not aware of his birth in 1895 and were introduced
to Golly through his friendship with a wooden elfin-like doll,
which appeared in the 1950's Noddy books. The Enid Blyton series
is full of the adventures of Noddy, Golly and often a teddy bear.
The Upton's did not copyright
their work and as a result, many benefited from their genius.
One such English company was Robertson's marmalade, jams and
condiments that adopted the Golli as their logo. The company
issued many premiums that could be redeemed for Golliwogg pins
In the fall 2002 issue of Canadian Teddy Bear News, editor
Patricia Atchison notes Robertson's "still use the Golly
today, making Robertson's Golly memorabilia, such as tableware,
figurines, jewelry, aprons, patterns, dolls, and Golly tokens
The variety of Golliwogg-related pieces is astounding. Golly
is a fascinating subject to collect since it has a long social
history and covers many specialty areas such as china, jewelry,
soft toys, banks, books, games and puzzles.
Avid collectors can join the International Golly Collector
Club. The contact information for the club is The Toy Store,
Franklin Park Mall, 5001 Monroe St., Toledo, Ohio USA 43623 or