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Toby Jug

897 of 1160 nominations


Toby Jug

Is this an icon?


Toby Jug

The figure of a round seated man wearing a tricorne hat and holding a mug of beer has been around since at least the mid-18th century, when it was made popular by Staffordshire potter Ralph Wood. The origins of the figure are unclear, but it is certainly associated with conviviality and is perhaps named after Shakespeare's Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Another possible source is a popular print of the 18th century of a similar figure with a comic verse about "Old Toby Fillpot." As a result of the popularity of the figures other Staffordshire potteries followed suit in producing them. Antique Toby jugs are highly prized and certainly very collectable. If you've only been keeping yours for chucking copper change in, you might just want to consider having it valued.


Your comments

Toby jugs are popular around the world and always associated with England. Many Engilsh Pubs have adopted the name. The first Toby Jug was made in the early 18th century. It was a jovial, seated, male figure, with a mug in his hand and a tricorn hat which made a pouring spout. He was dressed in clothes of the time; a long coat with low pockets, waistcoat, cravat, knee breeches and buckled shoes. No one really knows why he was named 'Toby' although it is possible he called after Sir Toby Belch a character in Shakespeare's Twelth Night. Or maybe it was after a song popular in 1761, around the time the jug was first produced in a traditional, brown salt glaze version. The song 'Brown Jug' featured 'Toby Fillpot'.

Geoff Shearn

Toby Jugs are typical of the eccentricity of the British, and I have been fascinated by them since I was a child. My real interest lies with the early traditional British Toby Jug, rather than the more modern Royal Doulton ones. To me, each of these early jugs has a unique character, and its own bit of history. I am now trying to make contact with other Toby Jug collectors who share a similar passion, through my website www.tobyjug.collecting.org.uk.

The Toby jug represents an awful lot about the British. They like a drink, they like an icon, they like a tangible representation of their Britishness, they like jolly people, and I think they like themselves in, I hope, a modest way.
Alan Gatter

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I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer