by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
As a teenager in the 1960s I was much too old for dolls. But a troll? Of course, I wanted a “good luck troll” because, as I recall, all you had to do was rub their hair and your wish would come true – or not!
I’m not sure exactly what year I received my giraffe troll, but I’m thinking it was Christmas of 1960. The bigger question is, why do I still have it? I found it in the attic when I was up there searching for Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and Fort Apache. It was just laying on top of some old “stuff” and not really covered or carefully stored.
I obviously wasn’t too concerned with the preservation of my troll. Big, I repeat BIG mistake. I searched the internet and found several on e-bay selling for $70 to $395 dollars. Like I said, big mistake. So rather than look for my giraffe on Ebay, come to the Historical Society on December 6, 13, or 20 and see my troll along with many other old toys on display. You can even rub its hair, but be gentle, at 60+ years, it is falling out (like most hair when we get older)!
My Lucky Troll, today
Troll dolls were created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. Dam could not afford a Christmas gift for his young daughter Lila and so he carved a wooden doll from his imagination.
The inspiration came from trolls in old Scandinavian folklore.
According to information I found on the internet, a troll is a being in Nordic folklore, including Norse mythology. In Old Norse sources, beings described as Trolls dwell in isolated areas of rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings.
In later Scandinavian folklore, trolls became beings in their own right, where they live far from human habitation, are not Christianized, and are considered dangerous to human beings. Depending on the source, their appearance varies greatly; trolls may be ugly and slow-witted, or look and behave exactly like human beings, with no particularly grotesque characteristic about them.
Trolls are sometimes associated with particular landmarks in Scandinavian folklore, which at times may be explained as formed from a troll exposed to sunlight. I also learned on the internet that trolls have a lethal weakness to sunlight. Perhaps that is why my troll is losing its hair! Too much sunlight!
The DreamWorks animated movies, Trolls (2016) Trolls World Tour (2020) and Trolls Band Together (2023) have certainly brought new popularity to the Trolls! But there is nothing like a vintage Troll to help us remember the “good ole days.”