Golliwogg's Bicycle Club, text by Bertha Upton, pictures by Florence Upton (British, 1895)

This is the second of the Uptons' Golliwogg books, in which a black minstrel doll acts as a playful, inventive, and protective figure for a family of wooden girl "Dutch dolls." These books belong to the genre, like Pinocchio and Adventures of a Japanese Doll, in which dolls act like people and interact with humans on an equal footing.

In this book the Golliwog interrupts a boring summer by creating bicycles in which he and his family of Dutch dolls all go adventuring: they cross the Channel to Paris, fend off a lion, arrive in Japan for a short stay, then go on to Turkey, a valley, a desert, and the land of the Panky-Wanky Indians, a cannibal tribe (apparently American) who paddle them home to Doll-Land in a canoe. The early placement of the Japan visit makes nonsense of any attempt to see this as a geographically coherent trip.
     The Japanese adventure is the only one in which nothing too unpleasant happens (though the dolls do get caught in the rain). The Japanese ladies are delighted with Golly, taking him for "a potentate in royal state" and he moves easily between acting as a coolie (the lowest grade of Japanese society) to being the guest of honor at a party, in fine (Chinese) dress. His Japanese hostess is named Yum-Yum, the name of the heroine in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Mikado, and as if to confirm her identity she invites Golly to sing.

Thanks for the images of this book to the Baldwin Collection of the University of Florida Libraries, which is engaged in its own project to put historical children's literature online.