Sunday, November 28, 2004

Dam Troll History

From Debra Clark’s book, “Troll – Identification & Price Guide”:
“In the late 1950’s a Danish woodcarver named Thomas Dam carved his version of a troll for his daughter’s birthday. She loved the troll and showed it to others in the village, [where a Danish toy merchant saw it]. A troll craze was born!”

“By the early 1960’s, Thomas Dam had three factories producing his trolls in Denmark, in New Zealand and in Hialeah, Florida. Mrs. Inge Dykins of Denmark introduced the trolls to the US market. An overwhelming demand for them began. As with anything popular, demand led to many manufacturers copying the design. This is the reason so many trolls are unmarked. The manufacture of unmarked trolls was a way of making a quick buck and avoiding copyright infringement lawsuits.”

“Dam Things Establishment sued Scandia House Enterprises in the 1960’s, claiming copyright infringement. The judge [however] ruled that trolls were in the ‘public domain’ and that, therefore, Scandia House did not violate any copyright laws. Eventually Dam Things and Scandia House formed a partnership, and Scandia House gained the exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute the new line of Thomas Dams trolls in the US market. Scandia House Enterprises was a division of Royalty Designs of Florida. Inge Dykins represented Scandia House Enterprises, and Thomas Dam owned Dam Things Establishment.”

“In the 1990’s, a new troll craze began and continues today. The Thomas Dam line of trolls is now manufactured exclusively by EFS Marketing Associates, based in New York, under the Norfin trademark.”

From Pat Peterson’s book, “Trolls – Identification & Values”:
“ . . . Although he was not the first or only maker of trolls, it was his creations that captured the hearts of American children in the 1960’s. It was his skill at merchandising that made him an international success story . . . When trolls returned to America in the 1980’s; their appeal was not only to children but also to adult collectors . . . Dam’s version of Nordic trolls established a standard of excellence against which all modern trolls are measured.”

“According to accepted sources, Thomas Dam carved his first wooden troll figures as playthings for his children during a period of financial distress. He was a baker [fisherman and woodcarver]; but in post World War II Denmark, the bakery was not profitable and he needed an additional source of income. His carvings and the stuffed trolls sewn by his wife and daughter were very successful. In 1959 he opened his first factory in Gjol, a small town in northern Juttland, Denmark.”

“Within a few years, three factories were turning out thousands of trolls . . . After some legal skirmishing, a Florida court ruled against Dam’s claim of copyright infringement. An accommodation was then made with Scandia House [Enterprises], and a partnership formed in 1966 . . . after the court conflict, Scandia House gained exclusive distribution and manufacturing rights for Dam trolls in the United States. SHE trolls then are actually Dams . . . No matter what their marking – Dam, Dam Things, Scandia House, Royalty Designs – a 1960’s Dam is quickly identifiable, even when unmarked as are many . . . trolls.”

“Dam Trolls returned to the United States in 1982 under a new name – Norfins. EFS Marketing Incorporated was responsible for their return and has sole rights to their import and distribution.”

“Thomas Dam continued to design new Dam creations until his death on November 12, 1989. He died only a short time before the second massive troll invasion of America began.”

“No collection is complete without one or more Dam trolls . . .”

A note from Ms. Trollophile:
Another company, manufacturing under the name of Plastech, was established in England and was also licensed to produce Dam trolls during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It also created its own line of animal trolls, under the names of “Rauls” and "The Happy Gang".

General Information on trolls can be found HERE.