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History of the Toby Jug

Toby Jugs have been around since the early 18th century.
They were brought back by Doulton in the 19th century, who developed the idea into a range of character jugs.
Today, their popularity shows no signs of declining and they have held their value at auction sales.
Their appeal is wide reaching because Doulton jugs are quite different both in their craftsmanship and their subject matter.



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Toby Jug 1

The first Toby Jug was made in the early 18th century.
It was a jolly, seated, male figure, with a mug in his hand and a three cornered hat which made a pouring spout.
He was dressed in clothes of the time; a long coat with low pockets, waistcoat, a cloth worn around the neck that was trimmed with lace, knee breeches and buckled shoes.
No one really knows why he was named Toby although it is possible he was named after Sir Toby Belch a character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Also it could be after a song popular in 1761 by the name of Brown Jug, which was around the time the jug was first produced in a traditional, brown salt glaze version.

Doulton made Toby jugs in the traditional manner since 1815 but in the 1920's Harry Simeon added color.
This inspired Charles Noke, a Doulton artist to rethink the Toby jug tradition.
He pictured a more colorful and stylish jug based on the head and shoulders of a character rather than the full figure.
He had in mind characters from English song, literature, history and legend, made to appeal to future generations.
It took him almost ten years to be satisfied with the standards of design and production, but in 1934 the first character jug was launched.
He chose as his subject John Barleycorn, a figure symbolizing whisky.

John Barleycorn became such an instant success that Old Charley, the Night Watchman, Sairey Gamp, Parson Brown and Dick Turpin was added to the jug making.
Two years later the first character jug modeled on a real person was made with Herry Fenton's John Peel, a trend which has continued to the present day.

A common feature of character jugs is their handles which often showed a fancy change of applied decoration which has developed over the years.
The first jugs generally had plain handles, with one or two exceptions, as some of the clown jugs had multi-colored handles.
Dick Turpin had a gun for a handle and the Jailer had a bunch of keys.
It was during the 1950s that the handles achieved greater creative importance when Max Henk was involved in their production.
His Long John Silver had a parrot handle and for the sake of being genuine does not have an eye patch, sticking to Louis Stevenson's book Treasure Island.

Midshipman Toby Jug The handles developed to tell more about the character and their associations, so the Dutchess from Alice in Wonderland has a flamingo handle, the emperor of Japan had a fan.
Recently, the London Bobby has both a whistle and Big Ben.
The character jug from 1996 shows how far this trend has developed in the model of Jesse Owen who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics.
This handle contains the Olympic torch, a contemporary US flag of the time and a banner inscribed with the name of the Olympic town Berlin.

Sometimes variations have been made to handle design without altering the overall style of the jug.
The Beefeater Guard who guards the Tower of London was introduced in 1947 and carried the initials GR on his handle for George Rex.
In 1953 when Elizabeth II came to the throne, these were changed to ER, Elizabeth Regina.
There was also a version with a gold handle which is now more valuable.
In 1991 a completely new updated design shows the trend for more elaborate handles with its raven, the birds which legend says signified the fall of London should they ever leave the Tower.

Other handle differences which help to date the character jugs are the early versions of John Barleycorn.
The first plain handle disappeared inside the jug at their top end.
Later handles were attached to the outside.
Early versions of Stairey Gamp have an S at the bottom end of the handle.
There have also been limited editions of handle design.
Founding members of the Doulton Collectors Club were offered versions of John Doulton with the clock on the handle pointing to eight o'clock.
Members who joined at a later date find the clock points to two o'clock.

Collecting Factors

Other factors which aid dating and can affect value includes color differences.
Like, the first clown range of jugs produced in the 1930s had red hair and multicolored handles, but due to the war time restrictions on the supply of materials, the hair during the war years was changed to brown.
Between 1951 - 1955 hair color had changed to white.
Red or brown haired clowns are two to three times more valuable than the white ones, but the most valuable is the one of a black haired clown, commissioned by a family whose grandfather was a black haired clown.
This was sold at auction a few years ago for $16,143.00.

Old King Cole Toby JugOld King Cole, designed by Harry Fenton, had a yellow crown in 1938 -1939 and a green handle and is quite a bit more valuable than the ones produced afterwards until 1960, which had a reddish-brown crown and handle.
Even more valuable are the ones which contained musical movement and was produced in 1939.
One of these sold at Phillips for $1,469.00.
The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland wore a black hat in the original, but ten years ago a red hatted Hatter came to the market and was sold for over $8,072.00.
It appears that in the 1960's, a painter in the factory changed the color of the hat and this was produced for a short period before it was discontinued.

Another example are the color differences in the buttons, hat, coat and feather boa of Hary Fenton's character jugs of the cockney pair 'Arry and 'Arriet which have made a big difference to the values.

Once in a while the jugs have been discontinued after a limited period for an unexpected reason and this also affects the value.
One prime example was in 1984 with the Clark Gable character jug which was produced for the US market.
About 2,000 were sent to America as a trial but the likeness was not approved by his estate.
Doulton recalled and destroyed all those that were sent back and stopped further production.
Those which remained on the market can get about $3,363.00 each, compared to the other celebrity jugs of the time including Mae West, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante and Groucho Marx, whose likenesses fetch only a small fraction of that figure.
The exception is the original prototype of the Groucho Marx figure which included two of his brothers looking around the cigar shaped handle.
High production costs led to their removal from the production line.

Another popular jug which was withdrawn because the image was disliked, was that of Churchill, designed by Noke in 1940.
Strictly speaking this was a loving cup rather than a character jug because it had two handles.
Made in cream during the Battle of Britain, it was withdrawn after 18 months because Churchill was not pleased with it and today it has a value in excess of $8,072.00.
Two colored versions were also produced.
One of these was sold at Sothebys a few years ago for $22,197.00.
One of the rarest character jugs ever made, characterized a schoolboy Toby Gillette, who had his wish made true on the Jim'll Fix It program.
Only three copies were made.
Two sold at Sotheby's for $20,179.00 each and the third is now in the Royal Doulton Museum.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.



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