Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,006 pages of information and 232,919 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
1864 The company of James Robertson and Sons was founded.
1910 It was in America, just before the first world war, that John Robertson (son of James Robertson) first saw the Golly doll. Whilst on a visit to the backwoods of North America he noticed many young children playing with little black rag dolls with white eyes, made from their mothers' discarded black skirts and white blouses. The idea of Golly trade mark was accepted by the Company and the Golly was first shown on Robertson literature in 1910, on items such as labels and price lists.
1928 Robertson's started the Golly brooch collector scheme which became the longest running collector scheme in history. The first badge to be produced was the Golly Golfer
1933 Robertson's was granted a Royal Warrant.
1939 The Golly badge scheme was discontinued as the metal was needed for the war effort.
By 1946 the Golly was back again.
1956 The Golly pendant with chain was introduced by popular demand and soon after, the design of all Gollies changed from the old Golly with "pop eyes" to the present day Golly with eyes looking to the left. The words "Golden Shred" were removed from his waistcoat, his legs straightened and smile broadened. At about the same time a range of 11 Footballer and 12 Musician Golly figures were produced in pottery, standing about 2.5" high. These were eventually discontinued however.
Several generations have affectionate childhood memories of saving Gollies from the back of Robertson's Jams and Marmalades and sending away for enamel Golly badges.
Over 20 million Gollies have been sent out and many have become highly valued collectors' items.
2001 The Golly scheme only finished when Golly was replaced by Roald Dahl characters. This has since been withdrawn following the takeover.
2002 Robertson's officially retired Golly. The company had found that Golly was, on the whole, no longer popular with the children of families, although the scheme was still successful with adult collectors.