by Dr. Lori Verderame
In the 18th Century, the collectible toby jug was named after a character in a pub or tavern song named Toby Philpot. Character jugs continue a long tradition of drinking vessels. Toby jugs were made in hand painted and glazed earthenware ceramic in the shape of human figures with the vessel opening at the top of the figure’s head.
The Royal Doulton firm who also makes figurines has made toby jugs dating back to the 1800s. The Royal Doulton lion and crown trademark is used on toby jugs. The Royal Doulton firm made it a practice to mold the name of the character into the back of each jug too.
Identifying Toby Jugs
In 1933, Charles Noke designed a series of toby jugs based on famous figures from history or literature. Other artisans known to produce toby jugs for the Royal Doulton firm included Leslie Harradine, Harry Fenton, Max Henk, and among others. The jugs were not the typical full figure reproduction but instead Noke’s toby jugs were only bust length. Royal Doulton produced toby jugs in several sizes. The most popular toby jugs measure 5 ¼ to 7 inches tall, 3 ¼ to 4 inches tall, and 2 ¼ x 2 ½ inches. Toby jugs are modeled and then a mold is produced. The mold is filled with clay (typically earthenware), fired, painted, and glazed.
Characteristic marks for the Royal Doulton firm, including registration marks, are found on the underside of the jug. By the 1960s, the rule that multiple registration marks must appear on the toby jugs was reconsidered. Values depend on condition, character, and rarity. Some Royal Doulton toby jugs command thousands of dollars from collectors.
Get an online appraisal of your Royal Doulton toby jug from Dr. Lori.