My Nan worked at the Robertson’s jam factory which was on Barmerston Road in Catford, South London. They used to make Golden Shred marmalade and a range of jams and had, what many might say now, an inappropriate golly as the company symbol. We used to have golly badges and they are collector’s items now but I haven’t got them anymore because I rashly swapped them for something else (I can’t remember what exactly) when I was about ten years old and that’s a real shame.
We used to have quite a lot of marmalade and jam (blackcurrant was my favourite) and to get a badge you had to collect paper gollies which were behind the label on the jar and when you had ten you could send away for a badge. Later you could get little pottery figures instead.
Robertson’s introduced the Golly in the early twentieth century when John Robertson on a visit to the southern states of America noticed young children playing with little black rag dolls with white eyes, made from their mothers’ discarded black skirts and white blouses. He was so intrigued by the popularity of the Golly that he thought it would make an ideal mascot and trade mark for the Robertson’s range of products and the idea of Golly trade mark was accepted by the Company in 1910.
The most valuable and collectable enamel badges now sell now for up to a thousand pounds each but with over twenty million Golly badges sent out over the years most are only worth a few pounds or so but it’s not about the value or the money I just wish that I still had them! You can’t get them anymore because they were discontinued on 23rd August 2001 and you can’t get Robertson’s jam either, because in 2006 the brand was sold to Premier Foods and in 2008 they announced that it would discontinue the Robertson brand the following year.