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Golliwog facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Vintage-golliwog-soft-toy
A Golliwog in the form of a child's soft toy
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Florence Kate Upton's Golliwogg in formal minstrel attire in The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg in 1895

The golliwog, golliwogg or golly is a doll-like character – created by Florence Kate Upton – that appeared in children's books in the late 19th century, usually depicted as a type of rag doll. It was reproduced, both by commercial and hobby toy-makers, as a children's toy called the "golliwog", a portmanteau of golly and polliwog, and had great popularity in the UK and Australia into the 1970s. The doll is characterised by black skin, eyes rimmed in white, red lips and frizzy hair.

Though home-made golliwogs were sometimes female, the golliwog was generally male. For this reason, in the period following World War II, the golliwog was seen, along with the teddy bear, as a suitable soft toy for a young boy. Golliwogs were collected throughout the Caribbean Islands .

In the 21st century, the doll has become the subject of controversy. While some people see the doll as a symbol of childhood and an innocuous toy, it is considered as racist by others along with pickaninnies, minstrels, mammy figures, and other caricatures of black Africans.

Changing political attitudes with regard to race have reduced the popularity and sales of golliwogs as toys. Manufacturers who have used golliwogs as a motif (e.g. Robertson's marmalade in the UK) have either withdrawn them as an icon or changed the name. In particular, the association of the golliwog with the pejorative term "wog" has resulted in use of alternative names such as "golly" and "golly doll".

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