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Volume 6  Issue 8




The toby jug is a drinking vessel that usually depicted a full-figured, drinking man sometimes holding a mug of beer in one hand and a pipe or glass in the other, wearing a tricorn hat. Although the toby jug originated during the late 18th century, it is thought their true origins may go back as far as two hundred years to the German jugs in the shape of bears and the Staffordshire owl jugs. Ralph Wood and his son, both Staffordshire potters, are credited with producing the first toby jugs. There are two possibilites for the name "Toby" that have been found. One that it is related to the character "Uncle Toby" from Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne and the other for the character "Toby Philpots" in the song The Little Brown Jug. They were produced for export to the American colonies. The colors of the early tobys were drab blues, browns, yellows and greys, unlike those you find today in bright colors.

The earlier versions were very detailed having fingernails and teeth. In the beginning they were not representatives of anyone particular. Later a trend developed to portray well-known individuals; some being George II, Napoleon, and Benjamin Franklin. The most valued are those that were produced by Ralph Wood I and his son in the late 1700's. By the 1830's, the toby was being reproduced by many potteries in the United States.

Royal Doulton is one of the best known producers of figurines, and character/toby jugs. It began production of their toby jugs in the 1930's. The values of their toby jugs can be as little as $75.00 or as much as $400+. There are others produced by the earlier makers, such as Ralph Wood and his son that are valued at $4000.00+.

If you are thinking about starting a collection of tobys, there are a few things to consider:

1. Look for hairline cracks. They can be difficult to see, so you need to look at the toby in a good light.
2. Check for repairs. Look along the rim and the handle. Repairs usually feel rough or one area may be slightly raised where it has been repaired.
3. Beware of seconds. On Royal Doulton pieces, the center of the Royal Doulton backstamp will be drilled out. These do not have great value.

To view some fine examples of antique Toby Jugs:
The Toby Jug


Warman's Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide - 32nd Edition
Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide-18th edition
The Toby Jug
All Info About Art & Antiques


The Next Monthly Newsletter will feature the history of crochet.


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