Toby mugs and jugs are popular character collectibles made by several different pottery firms. The first Toby jugs featured a seated man in period dress, including a tricorne hat that formed the spout of the jug. Doulton began manufacturing Toby jugs in 1815. Originally their jugs had a traditional brown salt glaze; colour was not added until the 1920s. The first character jug, John Barleycorn, was introduced in 1934. This new series of character mugs drawn from English history was an immediate success, and production continued until the Doulton pottery closed in 2004.
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Things you need
- Tracing paper
- Pencil or crayon
- Digital camera
Measure the height of your Toby jug. Doulton Toby jugs vary in height but rarely exceed 7.5 inches. Miniature Tobies were introduced in 1939 and measure about 2.5 inches in height.
Turn over the jug and find the trademark on the underside. There may also be an artist's signature, which will help date the piece. Doulton marked its wares from the beginning so it is unusual to find a genuine piece that is unmarked in any way.
Make a rubbing of an impressed trademark if you have trouble reading it. Hold a piece of tracing paper firmly against the mark, then rub lightly with the side of a sharpened pencil or crayon. Alternatively, take a photo of the mark with a digital camera and use the camera's software on your computer to increase contrast until you can read the mark.
Inspect the handle on your jug. Early Doulton Toby jugs had plain handles, but after the 1950s the handles were often decorated as part of the design. The Long John Silver jug, for instance, has a parrot for a handle.
Tips and warnings
- There are two theories about how these mugs and jugs came to be called Toby jugs. One theory holds that the name came from the character of Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night." The name might also have come from the 18th century song "Brown Jug," about a character named Toby Fillpot.
- The Doulton Company always referred to its product as Toby jugs, not mugs.
- Doulton was not granted a Royal Warrant until 1901, at which time the trademark was changed to read "Royal Doulton" on most pieces. A lion was also added to most trademarks used by the company after that time. A piece represented as 19th Century but bearing a "Royal Doulton" mark is either misdated or not genuine. Note that some earlier trademarks did include a coronet, but never the word "Royal."
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