Search Results:

<< Viewing Record 317 of 1190 >>
View : Light Box | List View | Image List | Detailed

Title:toby jug
Date Made:ca. 1800
Type:Food Service
Materials:ceramic: lead glaze with cobalt oxide refined earthenware (pearlware)
Place Made:United Kingdom; England; Staffordshire or Yorkshire
Measurements:overall: 9 3/4 in x 4 5/8 in x 7 1/8 in; 24.765 cm x 11.7475 cm x 18.0975 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2007.32
Credit Line:Gift of Jonathan Rickard
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

English pearlware Toby jug shaped like a man and a handle on the back, which was probably named after "Toby Philpot" or "Fill-pot," the nickname of Harry Elwes (died 1761), whose fondness for alcohol (he allegedly drank 2000 gallons of strong "stingo" ale from a brown jug) was celebrated in the song, "The Brown Jug" by the Reverend Francis Fawkes (1721-1777), published in 1761, the year that Harry died. The song's first verse describes Toby's dying, "as big as a Dorchester butt’ from too much ale; and the second verse reads: "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 offat Toby he form’d this brown jug; Now sacred to friendship, and mirth, and mild ale; So here’s to the lovely sweet Nan of the Vale. London publisher, print and map seller Carington Bowles (1724-1793) produced the first mezzotint of "Fillpot," based on a 1761 portrait, which shows a jolly, corpulent gentleman seated with a foaming jug of ale in one hand and a pipe in the other, and from which the Toby jug form was probably taken. After Carington's death in 1793, his son Henry continued the firm under the partnership of Bowles & Carver, also continuing to produced "Fillpot" prints. Toby jugs were first made in the latter half of the 18th century in many of the factories in "The Potteries" area of Staffordshire, some of the best known being those by the Wood family of Burslem, including Ralph Senior (1715-1772) and Ralph Junior (1748-1795), and Enoch (1759-1840). Others include an early version called "The Thin Man' attributed to Tomas Whieldon (1719-1795), and Neale & Co., Wood & Caldwell, Wedgwood, Hollins, John Walton, J. Marsh, John Davenport, tec., some producing traditional models until the 1850s. These inexpensive jugs were first made for pouring ale in taverns and middle class homes; however, soon after this form of pottery became a popular household item. Constant variations on the Toby theme were also produced by Staffordshire potters, including miniature tobies, female tobies, elderly tobies, portraits of famous characters such as Admiral Nelson and Dr Johnson and Lord Howe, etc. This smiling or grimacing figure "Toby" holds a foaming mug of ale (where the potter stippled the clay on the mug to simulate the effervescent froth) on his left knee with both hands, and wears a tricorn hat and a full length coat, waistcoat, cravat, knee breeches, stockings and tied shoes. See HD 2006.33.91 for a creamware example.

Label Text:
In 1761 a London print shop, Carver and Bowles, published an engraving of a fictional character they called “Toby Fillpot.” The print depicts Toby as a jovial, obese, and intoxicated older man seated at a table enjoying a jug of beer and a pipe. English Staffordshire potter Ralph Wood of Burslem, who has been credited with designing and molding the first Toby jugs may have been inspired by this image. His earliest Toby Jugs, dating to the 1760s, look extremely similar to the engraving. One collector has described the Toby portrayed in Wood’s jugs as “a short, corpulent, unsmiling old man with long, lank hair. He wears a full, long coat…a spacious waistcoat, a solitaire neckcloth left to dangle, knee breeches, stockings, and shoes ornamented with buckles. Sitting on a seat concealed beneath his coat skirts, Toby balances a jug on his left knee while his right hand raises a drink.” Actually this description leaves out the most consistently seen piece of clothing on early Toby jugs, their tricorn hats. These hats acted as spouts and often had a lid seated inside that could be used as a cup. During the same decade Wood created Toby jugs, ceramic technology improved dramatically, especially with the introduction by Josiah Wedgwood of high quality creamware, a light-colored earthenware with a yellowish lead glaze. The Toby jug featured in the exhibit and pictured here is made from this high-quality creamware. Most of these jugs were painted in bright and startling colors, but the one in Historic Deerfield's collection is unusually plain. It is also less typical because Toby is depicted with a pipe as well as a drinking vessel, more like the original image of Toby Fillpot than most Toby jugs.
Toby jugs have never really gone out of style and are still available today. Often the term refers to any jug in the shape of a human, but the preferred term for a non-Toby Fillpot mug is “character jug.” Beginning in the late eighteenth century the Wood pottery began producing mugs depicting famous people. Martha Gunn, the woman who taught King William IV to swim, may have been the first of these. In 1815 the Royal Doulton pottery began making mugs in the shape of people, even an occasional Toby, and has continued to produce these highly-collectible ceramics into the twenty-first century.

Link to share this object record:

Research on objects in the collections, including provenance, is ongoing and may be incomplete. If you have additional information or would like to learn more about a particular object, please email

3 Related Media Items

<< Viewing Record 317 of 1190 >>