The Toby Jug, a pottery Icon, originally depicted a heavy set man in 18th Century attire with a a Tricorn hat holding a a pipe of tobacco in one hand and a tankard of beer in the other. The tricorn hat forming a spout, sometimes with a lid, and the handle is attached at the rear. Jugs depicting just the head and shoulders of a figure are also referred to as Toby Jugs or more formerly, “Character Jugs”. The example shown is a Staffordshire Pratt type “Pearlware” Toby, Circa 1780.
There are a number of theories regarding the origins of the name “Toby Jug”, one being it’s based on a character in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night “Sir Toby Belch”, a hard drinking character in Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. The other being they were were named after a well known 18th Century Yorkshire-man of prodigious drinking abilities, Henry Elwes. Elwes’s nick name, “Toby Fillpot” , is also named in an old English drinking song, “The Brown Jug”, first published in 1761. In any event they first seem to appear in Staffordshire England about 1760 and spread from there and have seldom been out of production since then.
The best known maker of them today is Royal Doulton. Toby Mugs are a tradition with Royal Doulton that dates back to 1933 when they were introduced by Charles Noke. The Royal Doulton Character Jugs range features popular personalities, characters from history and fiction that has included more than 300 different subjects.
The creator of Doultons Toby’s, Charles Noke was in his seventies when he introduced character jugs in 1933. His famous toby’s were expanded into a collection of gift ware using variations on the Tobys to make musical jugs, tobacco jars, sugar bowls, toothpick holders and teapots in 1939. In recent years values for these Toby jugs has been in decline, a result of the current economic climate and changing collecting trends. The one pictured here, a model D6588, was issued 1964 – 1967 and currently retails at Specialist Dealers for Royal Doulton in the $1500.00- 1700.00 range, the last one we’ve seen at auction went for $610.00.
Wilcox & Hall Appraisers