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

Golliwog Name Derivation

The Golliwogg originally appeared in the books of mother and daughter Bertha and Florence Upton. It was based on a then nameless black/negro minstrel doll that Florence Upton had played with as a small child in New York.

Florence Upton had originally begun to sketch out ideas for a children’s book, using ‘penny wooden’ dolls as her models. However, without a central character on which to hang the tale, progress came to a standstill. Her Aunt Kate Hudson had a rummage in the attic and unearthed an old toy that had belonged to the Upton children, left behind from an earlier visit.

This battered but much-loved rag doll, dressed like a Dickensian gentleman, whispered his name in Florence’s ear: "As the Golliwogg has always seemed to me to be telling me his own biography, so in the same way he must have told me his own name….I picked him up from the table in my studio, and without intention of naming him, without the idea of a name passing through my mind, I called him 'Golliwogg'."

However, the Uptons did not copyright the name Golliwogg, and the image entered into public domain. So, even though Golliwog's name was originally spelt with two 'g's, it is thought that the second 'g' was eventually dropped to avoid any possible infringement of copyright laws by publishers and manufacturers who were using his name for their products.

Since the Golliwogg name was changed to Golliwog, he has gone on to become a common toyland character in children's books and toys.

Some common misspellings of Golliwog/Golliwogs include Gollywog/Gollywogs, Golliewog/Golliewogs and Golewog/Golewogs, and the name is often abbreviated to either Golly/Gollys or Gollie/Gollies.

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