Golliwogg Dolls

Golliwogg Dolls

The market for cloth character dolls really boomed with the creation of the Golly by Florence Upton, who was born to English parents in New York in 1873 and illustrated a children’s story, “The Adventures of two Dutch Dolls And A Golliwogg ” (written by Bertha Upton, 1895), with a black rag-doll character called Golliwogg who had a big smile, fuzzy hair and staring, white-rimmed eyes. He wore brightly colored clothes, including a stand-up collar and bow tie.

The Uptons, mother and daughter, worked together on twelve illustrated books, all featuring the gallant little character and his adventures traveling to such exotic destinations as Africa and the North Pole, accompanied by his friends, the Dutch Dolls. Because the original books were published by Longemans, Green and Company in England, the Golliwog’s fame and popularity spread there rather than in New York, the home of Florence Upton. English children and children of the commonwealth countries are those most likely to have heard the stories and played with the dolls.

The earliest golliwogg dolls were hand-made rag dolls by mothers and grandmothers in the image of the storybook character. As early as 1910 golliwoggs were mass produced, and many companies already making teddy bears, such as Steiff in Germany, began to churn out Gollies. By 1910 they had become so popular that Robertson’s, an English jam and preserve manufacturer, adopted the figure as their symbol, reproducing the Golly as a brooch and in felt cut-out form through the 1950′s.

Golliwoggs are now commercially produced in England, New Zealand, Germany, and the U.S. Golliwogg artists and creators can be found around the world. Items decorated with pictures of golliwoggs have been made over the years and these are now avidly collected. Post cards, greeting cards, dishes, perfume bottles, and playing cards are a few of the items that can be found picturing golliwoggs.

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