Wednesday, 19 May 2010
The original Golliwog.
This is the actual Golly that belonged to Florence K Upton; now in the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, part of the V & A.
It was given to her as a toy in her childhood; an American made doll based on a travelling minstrel; these were often blacked up musicians. Often and strangely, blacked up black musicians. They were big hits of their day, a tradition which carried on into the 1960s, with The Black and White Minstrel Show.
Florence and her mother Bertha, who wrote the stories to Florence's illustrations, published their first book "The Adventures of two Dutch Dolls" (also shown in the photo above) in 1895.
They soon became a great success Golliwog becoming the star and hero in the following twelve books.
These three characters were original sold in a charity auction at Christie's to supply ambulances for the 1st World War; they were bought and presented to the Prime Minister at the time and lived for a very long time at Chequers, the country house of the PM. It was Margaret Thatcher who thought they might offend visiting dignitaries and sent them to Bethnal Green. Which is great as we can all enjoy them.
I think these are my favourite items at the museum. It is well worth a visit, have a look at their website to Museum of Childhood