Golliwogg.co.uk - An independent guide to Golliwogs


An independent guide to golliwogs, including golliwogg history, golly dolls, gollie books, and gollywog collectables

Golliwog Collectables & Memorabilia

Golliwogs are an anomaly in the collectors' world. Though based on a character in a children's' book series, the character itself was based on a black faced rag doll which the author, Florence Upton has as a child growing up in the 1880s.

The earliest Golliwog dolls were simple, unjointed rag dolls made by parents for their children, and many sewing patterns were available. Many thousands were made, but these early versions of the Golliwog are eagerly sought out by collectors today. During the early twentieth century, many prominent doll manufacturers began producing Golliwog dolls. The major Golliwog producers were Steiff, Schuco, and Levin, all three Germany companies, and Merrythought and Deans, both from Great Britain.

The Steiff Company is the most notable maker of Golliwog dolls. In 1908 Steiff became the first company to mass produce and distribute Golliwog dolls. Today, these early Steiff dolls sell for $10,000 to $15,000 each, making them the most expensive Golliwog collectibles. Some Steiff Golliwogs have been especially offensive, for example, in the 1970s they produced a Golliwog who looked like a woolly haired gorilla. In 1995, on the 100th anniversary of the Golliwog creation, Steiff produced two Golliwog dolls, including the company's first girl Golliwog.

The earliest examples of Golliwog memorabilia date from 1909. The long social history of the Golliwogg means that there is an astounding and fascinating variety of Golliwogg-related pieces to collect, including many specialty areas such as china, jewellery, soft toys, banks, books, games and puzzles.

Unfortunately, during the 1960s the Golliwog was branded racist and removed from sight, as people mistakenly considered him to be a derogatory item. Consequently, many Golliwog books, including Florence Upton's, were destroyed at this time. Manufacturers also stopped production of all items with Golliwogs on them, and even the toy manufacturers' production of the dolls dwindled to almost nothing. That is, except for the Robertson's Company.

Robertson's Golly badge

Robertson's Jams, the famous English preserves company, has been using the smiling Golliwog as its logo since the 1920s, and still does. Despite much criticism during the 1960s and '70s, they simply changed their logo's name to 'Golly', and continued to stand by their trusty mascot. Consequently, the collecting of Robertson's Golly memorabilia is a hobby in itself, with a vast array of promotional material and items to be collected.

Over the last seventy years Robertson's must have given away (in return for 'Golly' tokens collected from their products) hundreds of thousands of Golly items. A good proportion of these are Golly pins (or brooches), which were the first type of premiums they produced, and they are still making today. Serious Robertson's collectors may have thousands in their collections. Other Robertson's Golly memorabilia includes such things as clocks, watches, tableware, porcelain figurines, jewelry, aprons, knitting patterns, dolls, pencils, erasers, and, of course, the Golly tokens themselves. Nevertheless,Robertson's Golly badges still remain highly collectable, with the very rarest sometimes selling for more than 1,000, and even comparatively common and recent badges being worth 2.003.00.

Annually, collectors throughout the world convene or the International Golly Collector Club's "Golly Fest". Usually held in January, information about the Golly Fest and how to attend can be obtained at www.gollyfest.com, or you can e-mail gollyfest@aol.com.

However, this captivating character's charm has captivated people everywhere and many collectable items can be found in online auctions, such as eBay.

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