Antique Staffordshire Toby Jugs
Antique Staffordshire Toby Jugs are types of ceramic figurines which resemble the head of a recognisable person or in the form of a seated person.
History & Description
They were first developed and popularised in the eighteenth century in Staffordshire, England, which was already a well-known area for the manufacture of earthenware figurines. It is believed that the jugs were named and based on Sir Toby Philpot, a legendary eighteenth century drinker who was mentioned in the Francis Fawkes song, The Brown Jug.
Toby Jugs typically depict a jovial, heavily-set man in eighteenth century dress, holding a pipe of tobacco in one hand and a mug of beer in the other. However, there are also jugs that only depict the head and shoulders of a figure (often an English king). Technically these should be called Character Jugs, but examples manufactured in Staffordshire are usually referred to as Toby Jugs.
Guide for collectors
The majority of the finest antique examples were made in Staffordshire, an area commonly known as the Potteries. Collectors should look out for examples made by some of the region’s most celebrated potters, including Ralph Wood, Whieldon, Walton, Royal Doulton, Josiah Wedgewood and Pratt.
There is an established community of Toby Jugs collectors and important or rare pieces can sell for thousands of dollars. They are commonly sold through both national and international auction houses.
Notable auction sales
On July 6th 2006 at Christie’s in London, a creamware Fiddler Toby Jug, circa 1770, realised a price of £28,800.
On October 6th 2006 at Sotheby’s in New York, a rare creamware Toby Jug, circa 1793, realised a price of $39,000.
On July 15th 2006 at Skinner in Massachusetts, Massachusetts, a Game Keeper Toby Jug, made by Pratt Ware, circa late-eighteenth century, realised a price of $20,000.
On July 12th 2008 at Skinner in Massachusetts, Massachusetts, a Game Keeper Toby Jug, made by Pratt Ware, circa late-eighteenth century, realised a price of $20,000.