Amoung the many attractions of the United Kingdom for the collector are the numerous toy museums. Over the past years I have visited many of these charming exhibits. Dollhouse miniatures, Steiff, and many other types of toys and dolls were found in the wonderful collections on display. On occasion, a lonely Golliwog would appear, hidden in a dark corner, or perhaps, more boldly, in the arms of a porcelain doll. I was always thrilled to find him.
"Times they are a changin!" -I declared to myself on my most recent 12 day sojourn to this antique lovers paradise. Beginning with a trip to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood to see the original Golliwog and Peg dolls, Sarah Jane Meg, Weg and Midget, used by Florence Upton for her series of "Golliwogg" books, I tried to show my bear collector traveling companions why Golly should be a part of every collection. This famous Golly had found its way form "Checquers", Winston Churchill's estate, to the Bethnal Green Museum only quite recently. On my previous visit, only four years ago, not a Golly was to be seen!
In the Cotswolds, a beautiful area, with fascinating heritage, we visited the Toy and collectors Museum in Stow-on-the-Wold. Open only three weeks ago, the owner had a fascinating display of Teddy Bears, dolls Victorian toys, trains, games and books. Two large cases featured nothing but the Golly! The collection was a mixture of old and new Gollies. Havng just presented my talk on "Merrythought and the Golly" at the Hugletts show in London, my eyes was drawn to some early examples of this. Other items included in the collection were china, Upton books, postcards and sheet music. I smiled to see that even Little Golly "Razz" and Matazz" had found their way here. A large shop sold many similar to those in the museum, including a large number of old, homemade Gollies. A nice line of greeting cards featuring photographs of antique Gollies and Teddies was also available.
In the nearby popular, picturesque village of Braodway, Janic Longhi, at Broadway Bears & dolls, has put together a charming tableaux of Bears with some Gollies, using animation to create a carnival scene. The effect is enjoyable for children and adults.
The Lillyputt Museum of Antique Dolls and Toys, in Brading on the Isle of Wight, is located in a lovely Tudor building. Several nice old Gollies are featured in a collection that has quality and variety. Although most of the toys are labeled, the Gollies are not.
Our last find was the Museum of Childhood and Teddy Bears, situated in the heart of Brightons historic 'Lanes'. This very professional Museum has two floors of exhibits featuring Steiff, china, celluloid and cloth dolls, and two very large cases of Gollies. The animated displays, old fashioned Toy Shop, enchanting Snow White scene and Children's work house display are beautifully crafted. Wendy Boston, Robertsons and Dean's Gollies are all represented in the collection. Professional signs told the story. Very little literature is available concerning any of the museums, and what does exist does not mention the Golly at all. However the fact that he is being shown in this setting, with the well know collectible Teddy Bears and Dolls, bodes well for the future of the Golly