The Golliwogg clan revival

 
 
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The Golliwogg Revival
 
By Donna McPherson
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 a halt.
 
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 and paraphernalia.
 
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 very collectible."
 
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 www.toystorenet.com.
 
Donna McPherson, Napanee, Ontario
charmant@sympatico.ca
 
 
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