Jerry Loader needs no introduction to most. In 2000 he exhibited a part of his comprehensive Robertson's Golly memorabilia collection at Paisley Museum, issued a Robertson's approved Golly badge to commemorate the event, is found at Quorn Swapmeet each year (almost) without fail and of course, has the largest collection of Golly memorabilia known. Many of us have known that he has aimed to bring out a book with the most comprehensive, accurate, concise account of the badges and history that he possibly can. I have been lucky enough to receive a copy of the book from Jerry and have had a chance to read and review it.
Jerry Loader has done it! He's finished the project that seemed destined always to be 18 months away from completion.
The result is a 210 page book that contradicts previously accepted facts and dates whilst contributing a mass of fresh information. At the beginning when you read a preface by one of the Robertson's family, you know you are in for an interesting journey. Follow this with a flick through the book and it will reveal that many photographs are in colour and the quality of the images is superb.
The first half of the book is presented as a time-line that takes us from James Robertson's birth up until the retirement of the Golly mascot. This time-line covering almost 170 years includes world events helping the reader to put into context each development within the family and business. It also fosters an appreciation of what challenges and opportunities each era brought to Robertson's. Along with fascinating documents such as the Robertson's family tree, factory details and product history there are anecdotes about diverse subjects such as the White City Advertising exhibition and the Robertson's Aircraft which prevent it from being a dry history lesson. It is awe inspiring to think of the time and money that must have been invested in researching the book. However, for me it is the photographs in this section, which is the highlight. They bring alive the historical details described on the pages as you see faces from by-gone eras staring out at you, the image of factories and houses as they were before being demolished or irrevocably altered. They include gems such as photos of the Golly choir, the Robertson's Brass band, The Robertson's Hockey team and, of course, workers inside the factory.
The second half of the book takes a comprehensive look at the Robertson's badges, pendants and patches. This is done via colour photographs and detailed listings complete with die reference numbers! Without looking for the variations and contradictions to previously accepted information, it adds to our knowledge of which manufacturers were involved and prototypes that were made. It also offers an answer to many of the collector's favourite puzzles e.g. the manufacturer of the (T) backstamp in the white waistcoat era plus why the 1993 and 1994 badge issues were so different. We get to see the Bakelite Golly in print for the first time, the manufacturers of the 1980's badges and proof that those pale yellow waistcoats weren't really all pre-war.
The whole book will require many visits in order to digest all the detailed information and to appreciate the implications of the facts and photographs it presents to us. So, having read 'The Folly of the Golly' once, there's only one thing left to do - go and read it again!
The longest 18 months in history may have come to an end but what is now exciting is the debate and interest this new addition to the Robertson's Golly legend is bound to stimulate.
I'll leave you to find out why the Happy Standard is on the front cover!
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