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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stitched and stuffed cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Patricia Mavroleon

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The original golly, called Golliwogg, featured as the hero of a popular series of books written in the 1890s and early 1900s by Bertha and Florence Upton. Bertha wrote the stories in verse and Florence drew the pictures, using as inspiration her childhood toys - a black leather faced doll she had allegedly acquired at a fair when she lived in the United States, and some wooden dolls. Although it is likely that Florence's toy was based on the Minstrel tradition in the United States, her fictional Golliwogg was a friendly, brave and adventurous character.

The books were such a success that it was not long before several types of spin-off merchandise began to appear, including card games and nursery china, and of course soft toys. It was relatively easy to make one's own golly and this example is an early attempt that was then played with by three generations of the same family.

Physical description

Unjointed soft toy made of cotton and stuffed with wood wool. The bottom half of the body is red and the top blue and white checked. The body is rectangular with short legs and arms that stick straight out from the body. The wrists are bands of blue fabric and the hands a dark blue/black felt.
The head is black cotton with white and black glass eyes, a mouth stitched in red and white thread and a piece of black rabbit skin glued on for hair

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca.1900 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Stitched and stuffed cotton


Height: 30 cm

Object history note

The golly was made for Edward McDonald, who was later killed in the First World War. It then passed to his nephew, Edward Lawson McDonald (1918-2007) who passed it to his son James McDonald (b.1956), the donor's brother

Descriptive line

Stuffed cotton golly soft toy hand made in England in about 1900


Cotton; Excelsior; Felt


Stitching; Stuffing


Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys

Production Type



Museum of Childhood

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