This is a re-post in response to a new submission by vmlojw.
Toban B. sent us this photo he took in Cardiff, Wales, of Golliwog banks:
While the sign indicates these particular ones were for display only, Toban says there were others clearly for sale.
The golliwog (also spelled golliwogg) is an old racist caricature, clearly similar to blackface minstrel-type or mammy figures in the U.S. It emerged in the 1800s but was popularized when James Robertson and Sons adopted a golliwog named Golly as the logo for their jam around 1910:
Now, obviously you’ll often find these types of things for sale in antique stores, or on display at museums. They were very common in the U.S., Britain, and I’m sure many other countries, so it’s not surprising you’d come upon them.
The thing about the golliwogs Toban saw, though, is that they don’t appear to be antiques. The same ones can be found on ebay, and here’s the box they come in, which looks quite new (as do the dolls themselves):
The ebay listing for that one lists it as “brand new,” though theoretically that could refer to an antique that had never been taken out of the box, I suppose. But the listing doesn’t say anything about it being an antique. And Toban says,
…the items on the table around them — at Cardiff Market — generally weren’t antiques. Since there were newly mass produced tourist/nationalism industry products around them, people passing by generally wouldn’t view the Golliwogg dolls as antiques. The dolls weren’t somehow distinguished from the newer products.
vmlojw, who is in Sydney, Australia, emailed in to tell us that her 1-year-old daughter received one as a gift and she later “found a local charity stall full of knitted golliwogs.” vmlojw figured this couldn’t happen in North America; I’m not so sure.
It’s one thing to find antique racist caricatures for sale. I still don’t know why you’d want to buy one, but I can certainly see why they’d be appropriate for museum displays. But I find it both bizarre and disturbing when new versions of such things are produced and put on sale as a “cutesy” souvenir. Do people think we’re so “post-racial” now that these are completely disconnected from their origins in a racist culture that viewed non-Whites as less human, less intelligent, and less civilized? Why would someone think this is an adorable reminder of their time in Cardiff? I really don’t get it.