Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oxendales Gollywogs

There is nostalgia and nostalgia. These gollywogs are in the current Oxendale's supplementary Christmas catalogue. They are called "nostalgic characters".

In my day lots of children had them. Apart from buying them in the shops, your mammy or granny would knit or crochet one for you.

For us as children there were no racial overtones to them. They were to us what Kermit the Frog was to a later generation.

Mind you, these days people can be barred from tv shows for even using the word "gollywog" in the Green Room.

I do remember that, as early as 1968, some of my American fellow students were appalled at the Lyons Tea Minstrels ad in a Bruges cinema. I frankly didn't know what they were on about.

However, you live and learn and I must say I am surprised to find the gollywogs turning up in a modern catalogue regardless of how they are described. It's one thing to refer to them in a historical context, as I am doing here. It's another thing entirely to start flogging them in a Christmas catalogue.

I wonder if Oxendales will get any adverse reactions?

[Update: the site now says the item is no longer available, but does not specify whether it was withdrawn or stocks ran out due to overwhelming demand. Given that the images are still there, it must surely be the latter. Well I'm blowed.]

(Thanks to Nora for pointing out the catalogue item.)


Stephen Neill said...

That is extroardinary - I thought they were a big no no :-)

Póló said...


So did I. Even in an age of rampant commercialism this seems a risky strategy for Oxendales.

Mind you, I gather from a good online customer of theirs that standards generally at that firm have been deteriorating for some time now.

Nora said...


The site says, "This item can be added to your bag but is temporarily out of stock. Delivery is likely to take over 28 days."

This suggests that they certainly haven't been withdrawn. I'm astonished!!

"The word "golliwog" has from the 1950s onward been used as a term of racial abuse directed at black people. This has reduced the popularity and sale of golliwogs as toys. Manufacturers who have used golliwogs as a motif have either withdrawn them as an icon, or changed the name. There has been wide press coverage of incidents in which the term "golliwog" has been applied to a well-known personality. The association with the also-abusive "wog" has resulted in many extant Golliwogs not being referred to as such, or being simply "Golly"."


Nora said...

Hey, from the same link:

In September 2008, Amanda Schofield , a woman living in Stockport, was arrested by the police for keeping a "golly" doll in her window. She claimed that it was her daughter who put it there after she found it in a bag of toys. Greater Manchester Police described the incident as "the latest in a number of previous incidents that the victim perceived to be race-related".[9]

Sean said...

And what's that they say about learning from history?

Póló said...


All very strange. Looks like they sold out and for some reason are not going to reorder. You'd think they'd take the images down. Puzzling.

Perhaps the inconsistency is due to a bad IT set up on their part. :)

Nora said...

The message on the Oxendales site has changed overnight. It now reads:

"Unfortunately the selected item is no longer available."

I'm guessing because of complaints, but obviously I don't know. I sure hope so. Such ignorance from a mail order firm in this day and age!

gollygee said...

Get a life, we are talking about a doll here. Just like Barbie,and cabbage patch dolls.

Nora said...

Not one bit like Barbie or cabbage-patch-rubbish, I'm afraid. And you created a Blogger ID just to post that?? Hmmm...

Póló said...

Link now leads nowhere.