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Three cheers for the Toby jugs; ANTIQUES.

THE Brown Jug, a poem written in 1761 by Doncaster-born Reverend Francis Fawkes, tells the story of Toby Fillpot - sometimes Philpot - where he describes how the decayed remains of the drunken philanderer turn to clay in his grave, are excavated by a potter and made into an ale jug.

Toby's name had always been linked with ale drinkers: Sir Toby Belcsh in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and My Uncle Toby in Laurence Stern's ribald novel Tristram Shandy, published in 1760, for example, but while other stories and legends surround the origins of the now famed Toby jug, this is thought to be the first occasion that the name of the jug's "patron saint" was seen in print.

Soon after it was published, genial, rotund quaffer of ale Toby was being featured in paintings and prints of the day with foaming quart in one hand and clay pipe in the other. Next thing, some quick-witted Staffordshire potter immortalised him in clay and the Toby jug was born.

It's just one of several theories ... whether or not you believe it is up to you.

However, it was conceived, the Toby jug was soon a sparkling success, particularly with ale house landlords.

The jug had a tricorn hat fashioned so that each corner formed a spout and early examples had a cup, which fitted into the top and looked like Toby's head.

A Yorkshire ware standing jug, circa 1810-estimate: PS300-To find an original jug like this would be a find indeed, while others carrying the name of its owner or inscriptions entreating the user to drink up and fill up again are equally valuable.

Another uncertainty is who was the first potter to make a Toby jug.

What is known though is that it was with us by 1770. The jug and adaptations of it are still being made today, making it surely one of the most ideal mediums for collectors.

Of the early Staffordshire potters, probably Thomas Whieldon (1719-1795) and Ralph Wood the Elder (1715-1772) were most likely to have been among the instigators.

Whieldon started potting in about 1740 and in 1754, he and Josiah Wedgwood became partners.

Whieldon is best known for his "Thin Man" Tobies, produced in about 1765.

They show a somewhat emaciated toper with lank hair and far from jovial appearance.

Like Whieldon, Ralph Wood had been apprenticed to John Astbury (circa 1678-1743) who is regarded as the first of the great Staffordshire figure makers.

Pratt Toby 20, PS500 Three generations of Ralph Woods are recorded arare jug, circa his ruddy, complexion, PS1,200-PS1,500 as having made figures at their factory at Burslem, one of the Five Towns of the Staffordshire Potteries, and were among the first English potters to identify their work using either their names or a mark (in their case THE BROWN JUG Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale, (In which I will drink to sweet Nan of the Vale) Was once Toby Fillpot, a thirsty old soul, As e''er drank a bottle, or fathomed a bowl; In boosing about 'twas his praise to excel, And among jolly topers he bore off the bell. It chanced as in dog-days he sat at his ease, In his flower-woven arbour, as gay as you please, With a friend and a pipe puffing sorrows away, And with honest old stingo was soaking his clay, His breath-doors of life on a sudden were shut, And he died full as big as a Dorchester butt. His body when long in the ground it had lain, And time into clay had resolved it again, A potter found out in its covert so snug, And with part of fat Toby he formed this brown jug; Now sacred to friendship, and mirth, and mild ale, So here''s to my lovely sweet Nan of the Vale!

trees ie Wood). By the end of the 18th century the Toby jug was being made by just about every potter in the country.

Centres where they can be found include Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Sunderland, Scotland, Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and when Stoke potters emigrated to America in the late 18th century, the tradition was spread there too.

From those early beginnings the Toby jug industry blossomed and innumerable Toby-like characters developed. They included: Hearty Good Fellow; Sinner; Drunken Parson; Night Watchman; The Squire and even a woman - the Brighton "dipper" Martha Gunn.

In 1785, she earned national fame by bathing the Prince of Wales in the sea on the first of his many visits to the town. Thereafter, the wives - and mistresses - of nobility and the gentry flocked to do the same, under the careful control of Martha and her robust female assistants.

Toby Note wearty estimate: An pearlware askew estimate: Moving nearer to the present, Winston Churchill appears in one of a series of Tobies, modelled by Carruthers Gould for the Royal Staffordshire Pottery during the First World War. Other characters in the series included King George V; Lord Kitchener; Earl Haig; Admiral Beatty and Sir John French. Churchill also featured in a fine limited edition Toby modelled by Leonard Jarvis and decorated with glazes in the Ralph Wood style.

It appeared just after the Second World War.

unusual Toby jug with face, circa 1800, PS400-PS600 In line with various other Staffordshire figures, Toby jugs can still be picked up for prices in the low hundreds, although early examples by named makers such as Ralph Wood can fetch a couple of thousand at auction.

If you are tempted to start a collection, watch out for the many reproductions out there on the market.


A Yorkshire Pratt ware standing Toby jug, circa 1810-20, estimate: PS300-PS500

A rare Sinner Toby jug, circa 1800. Note his ruddy, wearty complexion, estimate: PS1,200-PS1,500

An unusual pearlware Toby jug with askew face, circa 1800, estimate: PS400-PS600

A Pratt ware Hearty Good Fellow sailor Toby jug, circa 1820 (restored), estimate: PS300-PS500

A pearlware Success to our Wooden Walls Toby jug, circa 1820-30 (restored), estimate: PS100-PS150
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Apr 27, 2013
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