Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland auctioneer slammed over sale of golliwog

Row: the doll up for sale
Row: the doll up for sale

By Gillian Halliday

An auction house has sparked anger after putting a golliwog doll up for sale.

Scarva Auctions, which is near to Banbridge in Co Down, listed the controversial item as a lot which is available to bid on via its website.

The Belfast Telegraph was alerted about the item yesterday after receiving a complaint from a member of the public who had branded it "offensive".

Scarva Auctions, however, defended its decision to list the item for sale, insisting that "no offence" was intended by the auction lot.

Golliwogs, which gained popularity in a late 19th century children's book series, are widely considered to be a degrading racist image and symbol associated with blackface.

It is not the first time that an auction company here has sparked controversy for the items it sells.

Last March Bloomfield Auctions in Belfast was forced to cancel the sale of a dinner set that was once owned by Adolf Hitler.

The move was prompted by the son of a Holocaust survivor who runs a Dublin art gallery.

Alliance councillor Brian Pope said it was "unacceptable" that Scarva Auctions should allow bids on the golliwog.

He called for the firm to withdraw the controversial lot immediately.

"This is a reminder of the racism of the past which should have been consigned to history," he said.

"We work extremely hard in the wider Banbridge area to promote a welcoming, inclusive and racially diverse community. There is no place in our community for this item."

He added: "It is vital we strongly oppose any images or products which may cause offence or hurt, particularly items which have racist or religiously offensive undertones."

In response, Scarva Auctions issued a statement which said: "Scarva auctions have offered a wide range of items on our weekly auction over the last 10 years.

"The item in question was offered for sale on behalf of a client and described as is common with such dolls of this era."

The statement continued: "No offence was intended by this listing which is consistent with other auction house catalogues, and as a respected and established business we endeavour to deal with the public at all times in a professional and straightforward manner."

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