Royal Doulton Character and Toby Jugs

A Century of Royal Doulton Character & Toby Jugs.
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Toby and Character Jugs

Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century.
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The Doulton Collector, June 2015
The american toby jug museum – a child's view

In the March 2013 ORDCC newsletter, I had an article about my family’s visit to the American Toby Jug Museum located in Evanston, IL. My family was privileged to make another visit to the museum last August. For those of you unfamiliar with the museum, it was founded by Stephen M. Mullins, who also wrote the authoritative book on Doulton jugs, “A Century of Royal Doulton Character and Toby Jugs”. It is THE world class museum for seeing toby and character jugs by all manufacturers. The museum is unmatched in telling the history of Toby and Character Jugs, with actual pieces on display to illustrate that history. Plus, it is free and open to the public. While there are other large collections of Doulton jugs in existence, I am not aware of any others that are open to the public like this. Over 8,000 pieces are on display, with the centerpiece of the collection being 1300+ Royal Doulton Toby and Character jugs, and Derivatives. This includes more than 200 rare and unique prototype and color trial jugs, some of which I had never even seen a picture of before.

While my previous article focused on the museum itself and the history of toby jugs, this article focuses on how it interested my three children – Verne (10), Carl (8) and Mariann (6). I was of course enthralled by the museum and the multitude of exhibits, and easily spent the entire day perusing the collection. My three children are not overly interested in Doulton and jugs at their ages, but they found enough of interest that they were at the museum for about 1 ½ hours. Steve had put together a scavenger hunt for the museum, so the kids had fun trying to locate the various jugs and tobies that were on the list. They also had fun trying to locate the four largest tobies. To help keep their interest, I had each of them pick out a favorite item and took a picture of them with it.

Verne currently really likes Hanna-Barbera cartoons, so he enjoyed seeing those characters, as well as other cartoon characters. Carl likes nutcrackers, and even has a large collection of them, so he was happy to see nutcracker character jugs. Mariann’s favorite animal is a chicken, so she had fun looking for and finding various poultry related jugs.

After they left, I took pictures of items that I found of great interest, some of which are here. One shows Carl with the world’s second largest toby, which Steve had recently acquired for the museum. As a Civil War buff, I immediately noticed the Grant and Lee prototype jugs. I had previously only seen a picture of them as clay models. The bottom pictures shows one of the many cases in the museum, this one filled with Doulton prototypes.

The museum is a true gem, and well worth a visit by any one that has an interest in any aspect of pottery. For those of us that avidly collect Royal Doulton, a visit to the American Toby Jug Museum is like visiting the Doulton Jug Archives. Even those that do not collect many Toby or Character jugs will find the museum fascinating. Since it has enough interesting items to keep the attention of three kids for over an hour, any Doulton collector would be able to spend many multiples of that looking over the intriguing and captivating collection. I strongly encourage ORDCC club members to visit the museum. For more information, check out the website or call 1-877-TOBY-MUSeum (1-877-862-9687). On my family’s behalf, many thanks to Steve for opening the museum for our visit!

—Vern Woodruff

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