A Toby Jug is a type of tankard moulded in the form of a fat, jolly man in a tricorne hat, with a jug of ale in his left hand and a smoking pipe in his right. The name reputedly derives from Toby Philpot, a bibulous character commemorated in the popular 1761 Reverend Francis Fawkes song, "The Old Brown Jug." Toby Jugs were made throughout the latter half of the 18th century, most notably by the Staffordshire potter Ralph Wood, and manufacturers such as Royal Doulton continued to issue them well into the 20th century.
Type "antique dealer" and the name of your area into your computer's search engine. This should bring up a list of local antiques stores. Look for stores that sell older antiques, rather than ones specialising in 20th century collectibles, because they are more likely to see the traditional appeal of your Toby Jug. Alternatively, if your Toby Jug is made by Royal Doulton, look for a dealer who trades in Doulton pieces. Selling directly to a dealer can result in a speedy exchange of goods for cash, but you might get a better price at auction.
Use your computer's search engine to find your nearest antiques auction. Once again, the best place for your Toby Jug will be a traditional antiques sale, rather than one selling a range of collectibles, because bidders interested in items such as 1950s glass, for example, might find a Toby Jug old-fashioned. The advantage of going to auction is that an expert auctioneer is likely to know whether your Toby Jug is an interesting older example and can then draw that fact to the attention of potential bidders. The disadvantage is that you'll have to pay a seller's fee of as much as 20 per cent of the final hammer price. To avoid that seller's fee, you could consider selling online.
List your Toby Jug on an online auction site. If yours is a 20th century example by a well-known manufacturer, such as Beswick or Royal Doulton, then make sure to indicate that in the title and to place the piece under the appropriate subcategory. On the other hand, if your Toby Jug is much older, then you would do better to categorise it according to date (for example, "1840 to 1900"). The disadvantage of selling online is that you'll be held responsible for any claims you make about the item's age or origin, as well as even the slightest omission regarding damage.
Eighteenth-century Ralph Wood Toby Jugs are usually marked "R. WOOD," "Ra. Wood" or with a rebus (a visual pun) of trees.
On many early Toby Jugs, the crown of the tricorne hat served as a lid that could be lifted off. These frequently go missing, so if you are selling an old Toby Jug, look for telltale scrapes to suggest whether a lid would originally have been present.
Tips and warnings
- Eighteenth-century Ralph Wood Toby Jugs are usually marked "R. WOOD," "Ra. Wood" or with a rebus (a visual pun) of trees.
- On many early Toby Jugs, the crown of the tricorne hat served as a lid that could be lifted off. These frequently go missing, so if you are selling an old Toby Jug, look for telltale scrapes to suggest whether a lid would originally have been present.