A Century of Royal Doulton Character & Toby Jugs.
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Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century.
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TESTIMONIALS / MUSEUM
I am proud to say I'm one of the lucky ones who took the opportunity to pay a visit to this secret museum. Open Tuesdays and Thursdays or by appointment only, there is a world of Toby jug and character jug treasures to uncover. Did you know they have the smallest and largest Toby jugs in the world here? It's a world class exhibit with fantastic descriptions for each item so you know what the heck you're looking at. I had a personal tour today with the owner, Steve, of this magnificent collection. How in the world does he actually remember each and every detailed fact about each piece of the collection? Passion. He's not an art history major, but just a passionate collector of these hand painted jugs and mugs. He's famous! Did you know they even have a Toby made out of Legos? That's right!
Want a fun escape? Head on over for a Toby jug adventure around the world.
— Angela Shaffer, Highland Park, Illinois
This place is the epitome of a hidden gem. The museum itself is great. I didn't know what a Toby Jug was (or the difference between a jug and a mug) before I visited the museum, and learned a lot. The owners of the museum are also wonderful. They were more than willing to answer questions and were quite knowledgable about their collection. Definitely recommend visiting if you have a chance!
— Jane W. , Evanston, Illinois
While the American Toby Jug Museum may have an inconspicuous street-level entrance on Chicago Ave., downstairs there is a spectacular display of colorful and curious Toby and character jugs. In fact, this museum hosts 8,000 jugs, which are (usually) ceramic jugs molded to depict the full body (Toby) or the head (character) of a person or animal. The jugs span the late 1700s to the present, and most of the jugs are of American and European make, but there are also a handful from other parts of the world. It was fascinating to walk through the aisles of jugs and see the historical evolution of styles and crafting ability. Don't forget to look at the mirror behind the jugs so you can see their backsides. The museum staff are very knowledgeable and willing to answer questions. I highly recommend making a trip here!
— Angela C., Evanston, Illinois
The American Toby Jug Museum is one of the most fascinating destinations on all of Chicago's North Shore, and at this point I can declare it a hidden gem, because it is, more or less hidden. The museum is open only Tuesdays and Thursdays or by appointment only. So you'll need to schedule your visit accordingly, and you won't be disappointed. As much as I'd like to wax on about this museum, you really need to see it for yourself. It was a positive, eye-opening, antique and historical experience, and for me a very visceral experience. The museum owner and curators are extremely passionate, and their own personal histories reflect the growth of this collectible hobby world wide, as well as a Time-Life-magazine-cover-like benchmarking of American history. If you don't know what a Toby jug is, you won't be hard pressed to find info in a search engine, and their own website is highly detailed and informative.
— William G., Evanston, Illinois
My +1 and I had an absolutely fabulous time at the American Toby Jug Museum last night when I discovered this treasure of Evanston.
As soon as I saw my first Toby Jug (the biggest one in the world) and saw only a sample of the many shelves filled with Toby Jugs, I knew I was in for a treat. Kevin and Steve were very hospitable and I really enjoyed hearing about the history of the museum, how Steve's collection came to be, and about the illustrious Toby Jugs themselves. We enjoyed exploring the museum and it seemed extra special that Steve himself was there to tell/share his collection with all of us, too.
A sampling of some of my favorite Toby Jugs:
• Winston Churchill (there were a LOT and I loved every one)
• Margaret Thatcher (very funny caricatures)
• Star Wars characters
• Star Trek characters
• Lord of the Rings characters
• A bunch of actors who played the Doctor on Doctor Who!
Thank you so much to Steve for deciding to start this collection at camp many years ago!
— Carolyn T., Riverside, Illinois
This museum is an amazing place! I have spent much time in the museum and each time I learned more about the jugs. I have seen thousands of figural jugs in my life and I can say that several of the pieces in the museum are extremely rare and only in that place.
Some french collectors and dealers in antique majolica plan to come over there to USA and I’m sure they will be very surprised.
— Bertrand Cocq, (Museum visitor) France
The American Toby Jug Museum is one of the most incredible places in the USA for collectors of Royal Doulton toby and character jugs. Over the past 60 years, Steve Mullins has put together the best collection in the world of character and toby jugs manufactured by all the great ceramics companies. He has created a a museum of over 8000 pieces that includes toby jugs from around the world including English tobies from the 18th to 20th centuries, French majolica from the 19th century, as well as Spanish, German and even Japanese tobies. Stopping in the Chicago suburb of Evanston is a must for any visiting collector to the USA.
— Ed Pascoe, Pascoe & Co., Royal Doulton Specialist Dealer, Miami, Florida
On behalf of Chicago’s North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau (CNSCVB), I am writing this letter in regard to one of our major tourism attractions, the American Toby Jug Museum in Evanston, Illinois. We have worked with the American Toby Jug Museum since its opening and it is one of the favored destinations for groups that we bring to Evanston and Chicago’s North Shore.
The mission of the CNSCVB is to promote tourism to Evanston and Chicago's North Shore and the American Toby Jug Museum is a stop in our Cultural and Heritage Tour. At the Museum, our groups learn about the history of the Toby Jug which dates back to the 18th Century. We have been surprised by the number of visitors interested in this form of ceramic art and we have brought aficionados from around the world to the Museum. In addition, we have been able to educate arts and culture lovers about this unique art form and have become a popular destination for arts groups and educational tour programs.
As word spreads of this secret gem we have in Evanston, we have been bringing more and more visitors to the American Toby Jug Museum. We look forward to a long relationship with the Museum.
— Gina Speckman, Executive Director, Chicago’s North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau
Evanston is a wonderful community, home of Northwestern University, filled with beautiful beaches, parks, public transportation, theaters, puppeteers, painters, sculptors and best of all, diversity. We have a population that is diverse in terms of race, culture and socioeconomics. We have diverse cultural attractions to meet the needs of a diverse population. We have the Evanston Symphony, the Light Opera Works, the American Toby Jug Museum, the Mitchell Museum, Shorefront, the Next Theater and much more. We love it all. I have been to the American Toby Jug Museum and enjoyed it very much. The American Toby Jug Museum contributes to the quality of life in a vibrant community.
— Elizabeth Tisdahl, Mayor, City of Evanston, Illinois
The American Toby Jug Museum at 910 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois is one of the cultural highlights not just of Evanston, but the Chicago area. It is an important institution which educates and entertains the residents of Evanston, as well as visitors from around the North Shore and the country. The North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau comments on their websites that “a visit to the North Shore would not be complete without experiencing the area’s numerous cultural and historical attractions, including the American Toby Jug Museum.
It is easily accessible by public transportation from the northern suburbs, as well as the city of Chicago, situated at the CTA Purple Line el stop and the Metra Train Main Street station. Transit buses stop right in front of the museum. The general public can easily access the museum.
One of the challenges museums face is creating a welcoming environment, which will not intimidate the casual visitor. The American Toby Jug Museum faces the street level, and is next door to office suites, rug stores, a car dealership and a children’s reading library. It is an informal and unintimidating environment. Visitors can walk in the front door and enter the Museum.
Steve Mullins, the curator of the museum, is a nationally known scholar of American Toby jugs, and has co-authored the pre-eminent reference books on the Toby Jug ceramics. He is an in-demand lecturer on the topic of Toby Jugs. As someone who started collecting as young boy, he is passionate about the artifacts in the museum, and is an excellent docent of the collection. Today the collection numbers over 7,000 and is the largest collection of Toby and Character Jugs in the world. It provides an excellent education on the ceramic arts.
I have been a museum professional for over 20 years; I am a published art historian and former University Professor. As a colleague of Steve Mullins, I admire his work and the positive experience one has in the American Toby Jug Museum. I look forward to continuing our professional relationship.
— Eden Juron Pearlman, Executive Director, Evanston History Center
I have visited the Toby and Character Jug Museum on two occasions. I am a keen collector of Character and Toby Jugs, and live near London England. On my first visit I was completely bowled over by the collection; all the jugs are beautifully arranged in lovely cabinets, and every jug is marked by make and date of manufacturer. The most startling fact was the enormity of the collection, with each manufacturer of jugs so complete in number. The highlight of the collection for me was definitely the French Majolica jugs, simply amazing. However if one is interested in Toby and/or Character Jugs, then the Museum will not disappoint you. The Royal Doulton Collection is something to savor and enjoy, virtually every Jug that the Royal Doulton Factory ever produced can be seen in the Museum. If you visit Chicago, do not miss the opportunity to visit the this amazing collection that Steve Mullins has brought together, you will not be disappointed.
— Brian Dobson, Sandhurst, England
I’ve been a passionate collector and dealer in early English toby jugs for ten years and have had the pleasure of working closely with clients around the world helping them to build up their collections. As a result I am familiar with many of the most significant collections in the UK (where I am based) and also in America, Canada, Australia and Europe – perhaps surprisingly an exceptionally fine collection resides in northern Spain!
Steve Mullins and I became acquainted several years ago and I have been able to add a few early toby jugs to the museum’s collection from time to time. The question would be, why am I writing a testimonial when I have never even visited the American Toby Jug Museum?
With the exception of the mid 19th century Davenport toby jugs and the early 20th century Wilkinson Carruthers set of 1st World War military and political leaders I focus entirely on pre-1820 toby jugs, and I have to admit that my perception was that the Museum primarily focused on later toby jugs – I was wrong.
Recently, Steve kindly sent me a set of pictures of the Museums 18th century/early 19th century collection and I have to say that it is quite exceptional. In addition to being extensive and comprehensive it contains many very rare examples and is without doubt one of, if not the, finest collections that I have seen or heard of.
Clearly the Museum caters for all toby or character jugs collectors irrespective of what period or type they collect, however, for collectors of pre-1820 toby jugs a visit to the Museum is a must!
— Bob Moores, Nestegg Antiques
I have recently had the pleasure to finally visit the American Toby Jug Museum in Evanston Illinois.
My career as a Royal Doulton specialist, selling character jugs and figurines to collectors has given me the pleasure of
meeting Steve Mullins, who is the owner, curator of the museum as well as author of several wonderful books on the
subject of character and Toby jugs. In March of this year I attended a tour of the Museum, hosted by Steve Mullins along with Louise Irvine and a group ofCollectors.
We were all amazed by the enormity and scope of this collection. It was a visual feast, displayed to perfection.
I highly recommend to anyone who is a collector to visit to the American Toby Jug Museum.You will be overwhelmed by this collection of the finest and rarest Toby jugs in the world.You will see the earliest pieces ever made to present day.
Make it a point to see this incredible collection. No matter what your collecting passion is.
— Dan Powers, Miami, Florida
My spouse and I recently had the opportunity to visit the Chicago area for a family function, and being a character jug collector, I contacted Steve Mullins, curator of the American Toby Jug Museum in Evanston to try to arrange a visit to the museum. Steve was most gracious in accommodating our schedule, at the expense of his own, and we were personally welcomed by him at the doors of the museum. Steve provided us with a narrated guided tour, supplying a great deal of personal knowledge about the history of jugs and their development and evolution to the modern day toby and character versions, which supplemented the overwhelming visual beauty, diversity and unusual features of the thousands of toby and character jugs in the collection.
The collection of jugs is, quite simply, amazing! I have collected mostly Royal Doulton jugs over the last twenty years, and the museum’s collection of those jugs is truly to be savored, enjoyed and appreciated – it is so extensive and contains (just about) every prototype, colourway, and regular issue jug ever manufactured at that pottery prior to its closing several years ago. In fact, the museum houses even some of the privately commissioned jugs currently becoming available in very limited numbers. My spouse and I were just overwhelmed by the Doulton collection! It was somewhat humbling to me because I believed my personal Royal Doulton collection, including a few prototypes and several colourways, was extensive!
But what was even more interesting to me was the almost universality of toby jugs. The museum houses, in addition to jugs produced in England, an extensive collection of jugs from all over the world, going back as far as the 1700s up to recent times. There are Spanish, German, Oriental, South American and French majolica tobies. Each is individually labeled and catalogued with source and estimated date of manufacture in successive showcases impeccably arranged and lighted to great advantage. And having a guide, in the personage of Steve Mullins, just added to the wealth of information we obtained about individual jugs and entire collections. Regretfully, due to the family function, we only spent three hours at the museum – but could easily have spent three times that amount of time. What an experience!
My spouse and I commend and thank Steve for having the vision and tenacity to gather such a magnificent collection of interesting and beautiful objects d’arte not only for our viewing pleasure, but for future generations to appreciate, as well.
— Frank J. Champi, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida