THE site for the Toby Jug Collector

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TOBY JUGS

Toby PhillpotA toby jug is a full-length figure - more often than not male, (although there a few females too) dressed from head to toe in the clothing associated with the 18th Century: That is -a long frock coat, tricorn hat, knee-length breeches, waistcoat and neckerchief.  Usually these characters are clutching a jug or drinking vessel, or sometimes a pipe or snuff box.    

Toby Jugs have been produced for many years, and although there is some dispute amongst collectors as to their exact origins, it is thought that the first ones were made around the mid 1700's . 

Some collectors believe Toby Jugs are based on the character Toby Filpott who was renowned for his drinking prowess and who is pictured left.  There are others who think there could be a connection to the "Low Toby" - similar to a Highway Man, but on foot rather than on horseback (the equivalent of the modern-day mugger!).   

The Hearty Good FellowMy feeling is that he could be inspired by a number of illustrations of the time - a particular one being the one illustrated right entitled "The Hearty Good Fellow" which is attributed to Francis Hayman (1708-1776).  The title of this print is in fact a name used for a Toby Jug, and the print has the following inscription below the image:

With my Pipe in one hand, & Jug in the other,

I drink to my Neighbour and Friend;

My Cares in a Whiff of Tobacco Iíll smother,  For life you know shortly must end

                                                                                               

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Hearty Goodfellow                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ©   British Museum

In the engraving below - dating from the early 1800's,- entitled "A Smoking Club" you can see a group of bawdy looking gentlemen smoking their church warden type pipes.  A smoking Club

If you look very closely at the table to the righthand side of the picture, you can see a Toby Jug sat upon the table!   This suggests that Toby Jugs were in fact a functional item, used in Taverns and Clubs for serving beer.

Whatever the inspiration, the Toby Jug is generally depicted as a rather rogue-ish character, enjoying the excesses of the time in one way or another! - be it drinking, smoking, taking snuff etc.  Often they look a little "worse for wear" with pox marks, missing teeth etc.

 

The majority of collectors consider the best Toby Jugs were produced during the mid 18th to mid 19th centuries, many of them made with great skill and attention to detail in the modelling and painting.  Some of the finest early jugs were produced in the Staffordshire Potteries in England by the likes of Ralph Wood, Whieldon, Walton, Astbury etc, and nowadays it is these jugs which can command very high prices.

From the mid 19th Century onwards, new techniques and mass production methods meant Toby Jugs were being more freely produced and on the whole, these jugs are easier to find today (although as with everything, there are always exceptions).  In addition, as potteries have risen and fallen, their jugs have become less available and therefore more collectable.

Please visit The Toby Jug Gallery to some examples of the many different types of Toby Jug.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Many people confuse Toby Jugs with Character Jugs.  A Character Jug is only the head, or head and shoulders, of a figure - more like a cup or mug in shape (see below), and often having an elaborate handle. They are in general much more modern by comparison to a toby and whilst I understand that Character Jugs (in particular those made by Royal Doulton) have a large number of admirers,  it is the true Toby Jug that is the one for me and the one to which this site is dedicated.

character jug  I  AM THEREFORE UNABLE TO PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION REGARDING CHARACTER JUGS & YOU WILL NEED TO SEEK OUT A CHARACTER JUG SPECIALIST.

 This is a Character Jug NOT a Toby Jug

 

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