History of Gollies

Kate Finn Gollies – A History

In the late 1980’s we designed our first Golliwog & they have remained to this day, an integral part of the Kate Finn range.

Golliwogs had been a familiar toy in many stories written in the 1800’s and became very famous in the 1940’s when the English author Enid Blyton incorporated them into her series of Noddy stories.

The history of this toy is vague and many stories abound about how and why it originated. It was definitely a commonly popular toy in children’s nurseries in Britain throughout the 1800’s and in the early part of the 20th century and was held in great affection. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, when it was published in 1852, was the most popular and highest selling book worldwide, second only to The Bible. The picaninny, a black doll, was thought to be inspired by the character Eliza in this book.

During this time, when people’s main source of entertainment took them out in droves into theatres and music halls, Minstrel Shows were one of the most popular entertainments. At first the performers were white folk with blackened faces but after the end of the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) and the abolition of slavery in the United States, many talented black folk, free at last, formed their own minstrel shows and travelled the world. These shows were suitable for all ages, young and old, as they did not include the ribaldry of the music halls but concentrated on fantastic singing and dancing and gentle humour. Because of these entertainments children collected dolls that looked like their favourite black performers.

During the First and Second World Wars, in England, different interpretations of this doll were hand made by mothers for their children because everything was scarce – food, essentials, toys, clothing, textiles – so the only fabric readily available came from the material issued by the Government for black-out curtains and was therefore used to make homemade dolls.

For historical information the following internet sources provide interesting and varying backgrounds about the derivation of both the name and the doll.

**Florence Kate Upton

**Golliwoggs (Wikipedia)

**The History and Meaning of Gollywogs

Our Kate Finn gollies are collected by people all over the World and are treasured because of the exceptional quality and attention to detail that applies to all product made under the Kate Finn Brand. Girl gollies are just as popular as the traditional boy gollies and many Kate Finn collectors seek out matching pairs.

Collect your Kate Finn golly today.

With good wishes from

Kate Finn