Golly in a Jam

13th June 2016 — 24 Comments

Sometimes the more mundane metal detecting finds are the most interesting – like the Robertson’s Golly shared recently by John Lewis aka ‘coinshooter’ on the Northern Relic Hunters detecting forum.

Golly is probably best known in England, appearing during the 1920s as the advertising logo for Robertson’s Jams.


The badges became so popular that other items of Golly advertising merchandise became available and each year bought new items to add to you collection. It is a little known fact that the badges became a great strain on the company as nearly all monies raised from sales were donated to the various charities that Robertson’s supported. These charities included Cancer Research, Cystic Fibrosis, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Leukaemia Research and the 2001 Children in need Appeal. Eventually though Golly suffered the fate of the PC brigade as the continual habit of crediting Golly to the word ‘Golliwog’ finally seen him off. This is almost incomprehensible to fathom as anybody who takes the time to examine the history and paperwork of the Golly sensation will soon realise that even as far back as 1920s the word ‘Golliwog’ was not used, Robertson’s simply referred to their beloved iconic logo as Golly.


The Robertson’s jam jar lid found by John Lewis

It is believed that the firm was so taken aback that anybody could even think their company brand stood for racist views that they didn’t attempt to defend themselves and instead chose to retire Golly even though several surveys supported them.

So one of the greatest ever supporters of charities who stood for healthy eating, recycling, and our children’s safety whilst promoting sport and fitness, was finally seen off in the name of racism.

The Golly was as much a victim of racism as any other, He was a large part of most children’s childhood and stood for no more than jam and the fun of collecting his many friends. As such he should have been recognised as the pride of his era! Instead, he was removed from labels in 2002.  Thanks to golligosh.co.uk from which some of this information has been extracted.

History of the Term ‘Golliwog

A version of this article appears in the Northern Relic Hunter’s magazine. If you’d like to see more, then please click on the link below.




Jerry Morris and Mark@Morpeth have shared their Golly Golfers. If YOU have found a badge and would like to add him to the gallery, then please send it to me at john@johnwinter.com

Golly Golfers

Thanks to Jerry Morris (L) and Mark



Thanks to TheJim of DetectingScotland – his wife knew where they were!



A lid found by Shug100 in Scotland.

I believe that the Golly badge was modelled on the hero of Francis and Bertha Upton’s1895 book Two Dutch Dolls …

How did you collect a badge? Easy. By collecting ten of the paper Gollies that were tucked very tightly behind the label on each jar of Golden Shred. Robertson’s had found a way of securing the tokens so they couldn’t be easily pulled out from the jars on supermarket shelves by light-fingered collectors.

As you can see from the images, there were Golly badges for every career, sport or hobby … although I have yet to see a metal detectorist!  Alas, these controversial badges have now gone only to be resurrected by collectors and detectorists.

Had they continued Robertson’s would have been ‘forced’ in this day of political correctness to include a disabled Golly, one suffering from anorexia, a white version, a cross-dresser … and so on. Nobody seems to have noticed that Golly has been a transvestite for years!



DiggerDaves contribution



Nigel Ford’s ‘Good Golly

Alistair Milne says, “I read you article about Robertson’s jam. So guess what I found last night.”


YOU CAN DEPEND ON IT Courtesy of Alistair Milne


Thanks to Leslie Akrigg for a Golly found recently


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24 responses to Golly in a Jam

  1. Thanks for yet another great newsletter.

    You truly are brilliant at your work.

    Thanks mate


  2. Cracking work again sir
    Thank you John

  3. Thanks John for another master piece “Newsletter” and the article on the Robertsons Golly.
    In our childhood the Robertson logo was never even though of as having any racial connection.
    Again it was a case of the killjoys and do gooders poking their noses in and trying to segregate and divide opinion and put forward a division for their self recognition and satisfaction.

  4. Golly Gosh,Another excellent read.

    I have a Golly the Golfer badge in my box and will send you a picture.

    Best Wishes,


  5. Mine was always referred to as my Gollywog. It was left behind in remote Tasmania. Dad had to catch a train to retrieve him from the station master. When he arrived and collected him he found it was the final train. I guess Dad wasn’t impressed.

  6. Thank you John – I beg your pardon – Citizen… I feel a lot better now, after a stomp round the garden… Doubly whammy there: happy memories of Golly /and/ of Derek Nimmo in “Oh Brother” (” oh gollygosh!”). On this day of 26 Prairial CCXXIV… Cheers John!

  7. I grew up in a small country village, we did not have the bright lights of a big city to draw us in for our entertainment, we had to make our own fun, one of those fun things was to collect things, Robinson’s Golly being one of many things we could get excited about as small children, along with dead animal skulls, hunting grass snakes, running like kids possessed when the snakes turned out to be Adders ! You get the drift, we never knew what Racism was let alone understand it, then one of our cherished childhood memories was sullied by being classed as a figurehead of modern day racism, portrayed in every home and shop across the land ! And the rest is history as the saying goes.

  8. It’s always jam tomorrow! In my early days detecting I found two of the golly badges. Robertson’s did what they felt was right at the time by withdrawing the promotional badges. I totally disagree with the P.C. brigade both then and now!

  9. Oh “Golly” it takes a brave man to touch on subjects like this, these days.

    And the only man I know who can write a piece as well as this and put it so well is my good friend and Miserable old git John!!

    It inspired me to spend the last hour, raking through boxes and boxes of metal detecting finds to locate my very own Golly, that I found in a very small field that my parents take their caravan to every year! (It will be posted on NRH Forum, in the next few minutes)

    Thanks John for another brilliant blog, even my parents are now squabbling over the rights and WRONGS. Of losing this lovely character from our Jam jars!!

  10. I collected the golly stickers that were inside the jam jar lids and my grandad stuck them in a row above rhe chair rail in the pantry. When their house was expropriated, my grandad cut off the plaster with all my gollies on it to save it from the wrecker’s ball. Golly was lovely golly and nothing more to us kids.

  11. Funny how the Golly got the Jam company in to a Pickle! Sad. I thought Golly was lovely and it was a true, instantly recogniseable, ‘Feel Good’ household brand. The connotation, as is so often the case, was in the mind of the accuser, not the creator.

    Good to see the pics again. Thanks John.

    Bob Paterson.

  12. Very interesting article – I would be interested in knowing where the original image idea came from, the more I look at the golly figure I wonder if it was based on the shape of the particular fruit or berry used to make the jam.
    i agree very much with the previous comment regarding connotation saying more about the accuser.
    Thank you I enjoyed reading this unexpected article

  13. Brought back memories John, the Gollys changed hands like hard currency down our neck of the woods ! And as if it needs saying, issue 7 is as polished as the others, great work

  14. John
    I found your article about Robertsons jam very interesting as my wife and I both had a collection of these badges. Depending on how big your family was and how much jam you ate it could take about 3 to 6 months to collect a badge. In the late 1950’s in the little village I came from there was no TV, the nearest picture hall was 10 miles away, as was the swimming baths. So it was an event when the postman would deliver a badge to me. I had placed them in a line on top of a shelf in my bedroom along with other things I collected like coloured stones and other paraphernalia. My sister collected flowers and pressed them in a book.
    We had no clue about racism, and indeed one of our best friends came from somewhere in central Africa.
    In the late 50’s and early 60’s all the lads in our village had a birds egg collection, it was just one collection that we kept under a shed. Even then we knew about conservation and there was strict rules about what you could and could not collect. But I am starting to reminisce now so had better stop or I will tell you about the girl who stayed at the farm.

    • Oh days gone by ? We only took one egg but only if we didn’t have one ? We would go back to see if the remaining eggs were warm ! To make sure the mother had not deserted the nest ! We learned respect for our wildlife and wondered at it ! Walking the fields in early spring learning our environment oh what a wonder when I found a Warblers nest attached to swaying reeds a miracle of nature’s architecture my friends had missed it how proud was I ?? Today even if our children walk the lane’s there told there in danger never mind climbing a fence and just walking, finding lakes and ponds which may hold fish for them to catch!! I don’t envy today’s children they lack freedom and independence and imagination how lucky was I to be able to wander the fields??


      🙂 🙂

  15. Another superb blog John and reminders of a time long past when children both black and white could enjoy themselves and have fun collecting a set of harmless badges, days when the only mention of political correctness would be if Prime Minister was seen not wearing a tie. unfortunately I have never had the pleasure of finding a Golly Badge

    Thanks John, keep them coming.

  16. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 15th April 2018 at 8:11 PM

    Fascinating read John, and an interesting commentary on our lives.

    You grew up in a time where that icon and term didn’t mean anything to you other than pure enjoyment, whereas to a black person something entirely different perhaps?

    Not too dissimilar (although intentionally themed after black slaves) we had a maple syrup brand in North America called Aunt Jemima. She was caricature of a large black woman, with a thick accent, and would promote the brand.

    Here is a Youtube clip (if allowed) of her promotional material. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ipamH6EEwI

    As years went on the company caved to the pressure and made the woman more modern looking, and the accent was dropped. Though she still represents the brand, people want her removed altogether.

    The point behind all that is simply this…….to us kids it wasn’t a racial thing at all, but merely a face or name to a brand (much like Tony The Tiger is to Frosties or Frosted Flakes in North America).

    Most (if not all black children) likely wouldn’t see this as racism either, that is until their parents (or society) teaches them otherwise?

    Political correctness has gone way too far in many things in life, so where and how do we put an end to it?

    Personally I think it starts with the generation that teaches the young. If you don’t impart your hatred onto them, them won’t impart it on others?

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