How do you describe your collection?
I have a colossal collection of trolls with over 48,000 pieces of trolls, troll dolls, and troll memorabilia.
I collect everything troll and anything that resembles a troll. We at the museum are so grandiose that we claim trolls are the world’s first inhabitants and everything is descended from them.
When and why did you start your collection?
I started my troll doll collection passively as a child. I received my first troll doll when I was five years old. I grew up in a generation of people who collected things. I would buy troll dolls in my many trips to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and yard sales. When it was a holiday, people asked, “What are we going to give Sherry? Let’s give her a troll doll!”.
Around the year 2000, troll doll collectors started dumping their collections. It was really easy to acquire 20, 30,40, 50 trolls at a time and at a very low cost. I’m a bargain shopper — I don’t spend a lot on one troll. I did not buy them brand new unless they were on the discount rack. I ended up with a couple of thousand trolls.
We needed a “hook” for a tourist destination on historic Main Street in Alliance, Ohio. The street had been abandoned by local businesses, but it was at one time the hub for the county because the trains crossed here. It became the cheapest commercial real estate in the United States. The trolls moved in — I created a museum called the Troll Hole. It was just going to be the Guinness World Record dolls — a few rows of trolls. The trolls had bigger and better ideas and now the museum is a tourist destination. The street now has 14 buildings with cool, quirky, fun things to see and do.
One lady came into the museum and stated that we’ve brought evil here and that we needed to go away. Trolls are part of the pagan belief system. Even today, there is still belief about the evilness of trolls. When the Church came along, it condemned all shamanic helpers, healers, and wisdom. They made trolls into witches and demons. People are beginning to realize that the trolls are earth elements and are here to help and protect the earth and humans.
How do you display and store your collection?
I lived in a rural area of Arizona as a child. There weren’t very many shops. I have four sisters and we all got a troll for Christmas. That’s all the trolls we had — just five dolls. It was just one shelf.
When I moved to Ohio, there were many more stores, so I started finding more trolls. I would place my seasonal trolls dolls on the back of our piano and swap them out for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and so on. The next thing you know, I had more trolls than would fit on the piano. I put them in my bedroom and my collection quickly went on shelves from floor to ceiling. There were so many I had to start keeping them in boxes because I couldn’t put them all on display.
The museum is long and narrow. It doesn’t look like a large space from the outside, but it’s two different addresses — 222 and 228 East Main Street. Once you start the tour, it’s like a maze from room to room. There are curtains and dividers that reveal the different sections. It’s much bigger than people think. Visitors are amazed how much there is to learn about trolls, the different types of troll dolls, their history, and worldwide impact. They are everywhere — you just don’t realize it.
I like the legend behind trolls. They aren’t just a doll. They represent the oldest civilizations. They possess powers of magic and universal knowledge. They are very powerful creators and speak of much bigger mysteries in life than a Cabbage Patch doll would.
I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs — so it’s okay to spend money on trolls.
What do you consider to be the Holy Grail of your collection?
The one that has eluded me is known as the Dam doll. Thomas Dam of Denmark was the handyman who crafted the iconic troll doll that became popular and sparked many copycats. These original dolls have four fingers on each hand, four toes on each foot, big noses, oversized ears, and long skinny tails with a tuft at the end. The original series of troll dolls had tails. They came in three different sizes and were produced into the 1960s. I almost got one on eBay years ago. It was going for $250. Typically they would sell for $450 to $600. Nowadays, the prices have zoomed up even higher. A Dam doll — that’s a Holy Grail, in my opinion, but it’s not in my collection. I don’t have any of the originals.
As to which doll in my collection is a favourite, that’s a moving target. I always go back to my very first, what I call “primo” troll. It was a 1964 version of a Thomas Dam troll. It’s 12-inches tall. I still prize it today. They are called “iggies” because they are ignormous.
I have some really beautiful trolls crafted in the Scandinavian countries using Icelandic wool. These are unique and artistic trolls and are more art pieces than they are dolls. These are among my favourite. Many troll collectors don’t collect off-brand trolls, but I have some dolls that I’ve never seen elsewhere.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a troll collection?
You want to collect things that you’re passionate about. The universal knowledge that I pass on at the museum is that trolls teach us that the world is run by cooperation — when you are good to others, good things happen to you and you must follow your passions.
What things do you like? Life is meant to be enjoyed.
Don’t do like I do and agonize over spending money on trolls. Just embrace the things you enjoy and good things will happen to you in return.
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