Toby jugs date to the late 18th century. The earliest ones were produced by Staffordshire potteries and featured a jolly gentleman holding an ale jug. Today's collectors are drawn to the whimsy of these jugs, as well as their value. In order to collect authentic British Toby jugs, you need to educate yourself about this type of pottery and be willing to do some legwork in order to track them down.
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Educate yourself. Take a trip to your local library or bookstore or go to an online bookstore such as Amazon.com to find Toby jug collectors' guides. The more you know about these jugs, the easier they will be to collect. Learn the names and marks of the major manufacturers, study pictures of different types of Toby jugs, discover what to look for when buying a jug and find out which ones are the most valuable. Some examples of Toby jug collectors' guides are "Collecting British Toby Jugs: British Toby Jugs From 1780 to the Present Day" by Vic Schuler, Salmon Frances and Francis Salmon; "Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century and Their Makers" by Stephen M. Mullins and David C. Fastenau; and "A Century of Royal Doulton Character & Toby Jugs" by Stephen M. Mullins.
Know how much to pay. Before you start shopping, research prices for different jugs. Price guidebooks, such as "Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century Companion Price Guide" by Stephen M. Mullins and David C. Fastenau, are one option. Also try an online antiques and collectibles price guide like Kovels.com. This website also offers general antiques and collectibles information that can help educate you before you make a purchase.
Shop around. While both virtual and brick-and-mortar antiques or collectibles stores are good options for buying Toby jugs, consider less obvious places to shop. Estate sales and auctions are also places you can buy individual Toby jugs or a whole collection. The Estate Sale Network website lets you hunt for sales by state and city. The individual sales descriptions include detailed information and often pictures. For auctions, Auction Zip is an online live auction finder.
Visit online auctions. If you are unable to attend a live auction, many Toby jugs are sold through the virtual auction site eBay. Here, you will have the disadvantage of not being able to see the jug in person, but you will have the advantage of a large, rapidly changing inventory with many different price points.
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- Toby Jugs
- "Collecting British Toby Jugs: British Toby Jugs From 1780 to the Present Day"; Vic Schuler, Salmon Frances, and Francis Salmon; 1997
- "Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century and Their Makers"; Stephen M. Mullins and David C. Fastenau; 1999
- "A Century of Royal Doulton Character & Toby Jugs"; Stephen M. Mullins; 2008
- "Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century Companion Price Guide" by Stephen M. Mullins and David C. Fastenau; 2000