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I've been designing and making textile figures for many years. I have also recently taken up knitting and crochet again after a lengthy break  and I'm LOVING IT!  Textile Creations UK (http://textilecreationsuk.blogspot.com ) is my new website/ Blog, which includes all my knitted, crocheted, sewn, woven textile creations.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Controversial Gollies

Without wishing to cause offence or disrespect to those who have strong views against them,  I have included Gollies in my doll styles pages, since these toys predate Raggedy Ann and the Teddy Bear as a named character doll. 

Gollies, originally termed Golliwogs, understandably became controversial toys and are still frowned upon today by some as being non-politically correct, unacceptable caricatures. 
Indeed, the name wog is still used today as an offensive term given to someone of coloured skin. There are still many black people today who have strong associations between these types of doll and the bigoted treatment they endured simply as a result of the colour of their skin.

Indeed, when I made a black rag doll boy, I was asked "Is he a Golliwog or the token black?" 
As you can imagine I was appalled by the stereotype and the implied racism. Why shouldn't I make cloth dolls and figures of ethnic origin?

When I made Oliver rag doll, in the 1990's, I was appalled by people referring to him as 'the token black' or the 'Golliwog', both of which he was not

Clearly people still had much to learn about respecting different cultures and races. Indeed, there is more to black cloth doll making and black people than Gollies and Mammy dolls

As far as I understand it, GOLLY HISTORY  reflects the changing attitudes and times in which they were created, compared to those in which they continue to survive today. I would like to think that they serve to remind us of the past and the progress that we have made.

Many people nowadays appreciate Gollies simply as a particular style of cloth doll, with a certain charm of their own. Those who own them today, do so with great affection and adoration, without the associated prejudices/ stigma of previous generations. 

In 1895, Florence K.Upton created the character for her first children's book The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog.Although American, she moved with her British parents to England, where the book was published when she was 22 years old. Thirteen books were published between 1895 and 1909 and proved very popular in the
1920s. Patterns for them were published in popular magazines. 

Florence K Upton failed to copyright her character and versions of the character appeared on plates, clocks, cards, aprons, adverts etc and in numerous other stories. In the first book the Dutch Peg dolls initially find Golly frightful and later learn to love him for his loyalty, charm and warmth.

Gollies also appear in paintings by Mabel Lucie Attwell, in their original design having a long nose. 

There were also Gollies in Enid Blyton’s original ‘Noddy’ books. I suspect these were very stereotypical, unflattering portrayals. Consequently, in the 2oth Century, they were deemed improper and offensive and the character of the Golly was changed accordingly.
James Robertson & Sons jam manufacturers adopted the Golly as their trademark in 1910. The Golly label on jars could be traded for badges. Over 20 million badges have been issued and the Golly appeared on the jam and fruit preserve jars until September 2001 when Robertson issued its last ever Golly badge. A 9ct. gold plated 'Farewell Golly' badge in presentation box with certificate.

Collecting Golly ephemera has become a passionate pastime for Golly enthusiasts.  
The traditional Golly had a blue coat with tails, red or red and white striped trousers, a white waistcoat, red bow-tie, fluffy hair and a  generous red and white smile.
Nevertheless, Gollies today also abound with numerous individual interpretations and even a Golly Girl has appeared.

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