Who would have ever thought a Danish fisherman in 1959 could have created a worldwide craze which would last even up until today?
By now, just about everyone knows what a Troll doll is — their crazy hair, their big eyes and their distinct nose and smile. Thomas Dam would probably still be amazed at their popularity. The creator of these fun creatures passed away in 1989.
The story goes that Thomas Dam didn’t have money for toys for his daughter, so he carved trolls out of wood for her. Folks in Denmark became instantly obsessed, and the troll fad hit its first peak in the mid-1960s when Dam Things was created to mass-produce these mystical good luck figures in rubber form for export.
The original Dam Trolls had glass eyes and mohair (authentic sheep wool hair). These are the two most distinguishing features to look for when collecting trolls — along with the DAM Things trademark on the feet and the year.
Trolls had another resurgence of popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, under DAM and other makers such as Russ and Norfin. You can find these wild-looking dudes to this day at flea markets, yard sales, vintage stores, etc.
And, they are still very popular to collect. In 2013, DreamWorks even came out with a troll movie based on these figures. But the KEY is to find a 1960s version!
Owning a vintage shop, I have only come across 1960s DAM Trolls twice. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d probably toss them away.
The mohair over years starts to fall out and thin and it’s not very visually appealing. But the diehard collectors of these first ones will re-hair them and make them look like new.
Very recently, I had the pleasure of selling three original DAM Troll dolls on eBay for a friend. As mentioned above, they looked pretty tired and their hair was a mess. But knowing what to look for was the key!
These three went for more than $350, and one of them actually was pretty rare and had a tail. The tail was missing its mohair, but even in that condition, it was worth a ton.
Moral of the story: Enjoy these mystical and wacky-looking creatures, but keep your eyes out for the originals. Check the boxes you may have put away in your attic many, many years ago.
Kari Lindstrom owns The Melamine Cup, Mid-Century Modern & More in Jaffrey. She is a past board member of The Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce and has a background in career counseling. For more information, visit themelaminecup.com.