Antique Legacies
RD Character Mugs
An Interesting Lot: 
Mugs, Jugs & Figurines

Royal Doulton Character Mugs & Jugs


In England, the tradition of jugs or pitchers in the shape of human figures dates back to the eighteenth century. These drinking vessels became popular and referred to as Toby Jugs.  It is said that they received this name after a song about a character known as “Toby Philpot” which was popular in 1761.

In 1933, Charles J. Noke developed a new type of figural jugs, that became known as “Toby jugs”. The pitcher (jug) was made of a  the head and shoulders rather than a full-figure. Noke designed a series of jugs , each of whom depicted a famous person or character in English history, literature, and song.  The first jugs were of Old Charley ( night watchman )and John  Barleycorn (personification  of whiskey). Other initial modelers were Leslie Harradine, Harry Fenton, Max Henk, and David Brian Biggs. 

The character figure is modeled, a mode is constructed, clay is poured into the mold, which is dried. Then the mold is fired, decorated several times and fired over and over again. From the late 1967 to 1971 the character jugs made of fine china, English Translucent China (ETC) rather than earthenware.  These jugs have a translucent body rather then the finish of earthenware. Because of the associated shrinkage, the resultant jugs were smaller in size, especially the larger jugs. Another tip is the ETC jugs are translucent (if the base of the jug is held to a bright light and a finger is runs across the base, a shadow of the finger is detected through the base of the ETC).  Alternatively by placing a light bulb inside the jug the ETC jug will glow and the earthenware will not.

The jugs were made in several sizes:

·       Extra-large version – only Tony Weller  6.25”

·       Large   - 5.25” – 7”  

·       Small  -  3.25”-   4” 

·       Miniature- 2.25” – 2.5” 

·       Tiny – 1.25” or less  ( discontinued in 1960 )

Burslem, England

Each character jug has a name that is molded into the back of the jug. The earliest versions made the terms "potted by (followed by the initials of the artist)”. The HD number is usually hand-written  on the bottom as well.

The Royal Doulton Lion and Crown trademark was used on Toby jugs made between 1919-1925. In the early 1930’s the trademark  was used an-0- to one side. Also included was the mark  “Made in England” ( mid-1930’s ).

From 1934, the Lion and Crown “Made in England”  trademark was used with a U.K. patent office registration number underneath or “Registration applied for”.  Typically , the registration was guaranteed a year before its release.

Between 1934 and World War II, some jugs were marked with a handwritten D number, which is usually found on the bottom.

Beginning with the 1930’s through the 1940’s , some character jugs had a date code giving of year of manufacture. This number is found is located to the right of the Lion and Crown trademark. The numbering system began in 1928 so the numeral “9” denotes 1937.

From the late 1930’s until around 1955 the name of the character jug generally appeared in inverted commas.  In the 1940’s ,the  backstamp on the tiny character jugs omitted the Lion and Crown mark due to the space constraints.

Earlier jugs were marked with an “A”. Although there are several explanations, the Royal  Doulton factory  explains it was a factory-control mark used during production to indicate wares to go to a certain kiln, the Georgian kiln.. The A mark was used between 1939 and 1955 according to Kovel ( The Kovels’ Illustrated Price Guide to  Royal Doulton.,1980).  According to Mullins and Fastenau ( A Century of Royal Doulton Character & Toby Jugs, 2008) the date was 1939-1956.

In 1950’s some jugs were marked three registration numbers. From 1952 the D pattern number began to be printed rather than handwritten by the painter.   One or more small marks are noted on the bottom through 1950 that seem to denote the artist(s) who was responsible for that particular individual jug. They appear as black dots, red lines or dots, gold lines, and on the earlier jugs, initials. One or more small marks are noted on the bottom through 1950 that seem to denote the painter(s) who was responsible for that particular individual jug, a mark of pride in their work.

The words “Reg. applied for” or a single registered design number appear on the early jugs.  The next chance was the printed name of the jug appeared inside quotation marks.

About 1950 , the factory began using the registered design numbers with the lion and crown trademark and the D number. Some small jugs due to the limited space marked with the words “Royal Doulton, Made in England”.

In 1960, new copyright laws meant that multiple registration numbers could phased out. By 1973 the registration numbers had been replaced on most character jugs by copyright notice and the date.

As all of the character mugs/jugs and Toby jugs offered here were packed away 1972 and carefully stored until 2011, the later changes to them do not apply. The reader is referred to an excellent book by Stephen M. Mullins and David C. Fastenau with Louise Irvine,  A Century of Royal Doulton Character & Toby Jugs . Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen,PA,  2008.