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Those "Dam" Trolls


Those Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder when it comes to those Dam Trolls! Originally known as Leprocauns, and also called Wishniks, Thomas Dam’s creation became one of  America’s most lovable dolls for the short duration of 1963-65 and through surges of popularity thereafter.  Though some Trolls were short in stature—mere miniatures-- others were over a foot tall! An invasion of ogres!  

As necessity is often the mother of invention, purportedly the folk lore behind the Dam doll is that Thomas Dam, a poor Danish fisherman and woodcutter could not afford a birthday gift for his daughter Lila, so using his imagination, carved his version of a troll. As trolls frequent Scandinavian fairy tales, it might explain Dam’s creative outlet.  Certainly no Barbie doll wannabe, storybook trolls are fictitious, humanoid, forest/mountain dwellers which can be huge as giants or small as dwarves.  Generally portrayed as dim-witted and having crude mannerisms, bulbous noses, long arms, and excessive hair, it goes without saying they’re not considered easy on the eyes…except for certain females.  Lila loved the feature creature, showed it to her friends, and a fad was born in 1959.  

By the early Sixties, three factories produced Dam’s trolls, and one of them was in Florida. Nearly all trolls are manufactured in hard vinyl, though some have been made out of ceramics, rubber, porcelain, and even hemp. The originals, which featured sheep wool hair and glass eyes, are marked with Dam, Dam Things, Scandia House, or Royalty Designs.  As the trolls rolled, gathering moss throughout the land, there grew breeds of imitations without markings to avoid copyright infringement lawsuits even though Dam Things Establishment sued over this and lost. Hence, other companies sprung like mushrooms on a forest floor: Russ Berrie, Jakks Pacific, Hasbro, Mattel, Nyform, Trollkins, and Ace Novelty. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association added Troll dolls to its “Century of Toys List,” commemorating the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century. 

Perpetuating the lore that capturing a troll would bring good luck to any human who could catch one of them, should you have a troll or two or more in your captivating collection, their mischief might be marketable. Common trolls can fetch prices ranging from a few dollars to fifty. Certain vintage Nyform trolls from Norway can earn you over $500. Produced in the hundreds of millions, a marvel to look at and precious to hold, some aren’t worth a Dam. 

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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