Auction news reports and saleroom gossip. Relevant Questions
and answers including Toby jugs to avoid when fake or restored.
Woolley and Wallis. 9.9.14
Coming to auction is this rare Spode & Copeland pearlware Toby jug, c.1811-15,
wearing a mustard yellow coat over a chevron-striped waistcoat and blue breeches, his jug of ale painted with
a blue and black foliate spray, his grin revealing misshapen teeth, incised `Spode & Copeland` to the reverse,
a chip to the back of his hat, 26cm.
Provenance: the Colin Russell Collection. Old Christie`s label for 4th June 1979.
The rare mark on this jug refers to the partnership of Josiah Spode II and William Copeland who traded under this name from 1797 to 1816.
Web traffic increases as we type.
As you probably have noticed the site is having a makeover, the less than organised filing
system being left over from our first attempts of building a website from the late 1990's. We much prefer a
personal site rather than a professional repetitive one which also leaves excess funds available for more Toby
Jugs. What I have noticed recently when trying to update my coding skills is the way professional web design is
influencing item description which can be very misleading. Some sites appear to be catering for SEO (search
engine optimisation) above quality descriptive text. A confusing description I have read being the identification
of variations of an ordinary Toby jug. The ordinary Toby jug isn't identified for comparisons but is nicely passed
over with the premise that we are all familiar with them, see if you agree with the identifications.
A Roman Nose, Sharp Face, Long Face, Step, Askew, Yorkshire, Collier are variations of the ordinary model. None
ordinary models are, Hearty Goodfellow, Coachman, Drunken Parson, Sinner, Rodney's Sailor, Lord Howe, Squire,
Thin Man, Martha Gunn, Drunken Sal, Welshman. Not mentioned were the Tipsy Man, Tithe, King Hal, Bacchus, Dollars,
Shield, Hooked Nose or Raised Cup. Could these attributions be what recent collectors really believe? or is this
just plain SEO inspired and what is that "Ordinary" Toby jug that we are all familiar with. Write and tell us your
My thoughts are that Yorkshire is a county where Betty's sells cream teas and the Toby jug list is SEO inspired because it can be interpreted in numerous ways. This has to be very confusing to collectors of English antique British Staffordshire pottery ceramic Toby jugs, Pratt-ware, Ralph Wood, creamware, pearlware or saltglaze from Staffordshire and beyond.
Vic Schuler first started describing Toby jugs as ordinary in the eighties which caught on and it seems to have stuck. Ordinary now being loosely used to try and describe a Toby jug that was always termed as "Traditional".
Whichever way the list is organized you will no doubt be able to find comparisons, but a lack of understanding of what is a Traditional model can lead to most Toby jugs being classed ordinary, rarities will be passed by and contemporary will be accepted as the norm. This leads me onto answering one of our reader's questions on a Toby jug illustrated on a private site.
The jug in question is a Sinner Toby which some of you had doubts to its authenticity as a period piece as it is dated c1800. At first glance there is nothing alarming to worry the unwary as the jug looks similar to any other Sinner when viewed from the front. The mould appears well used resulting in the five fingers on his left hand disappearing, the fifth of course the base of the wine glass, that being not present. The colour tones appear extremely harsh especially the red and black just like later wares of the Kent period. Other decorative detail is sparingly applied and being miles apart from the painting skills applied on the Walton shown. The small jug on his knee has been placed in the "ordinary" way as if the potter wasn't familiar with this models features. Then we look at the back to discover an ornate handle which is completely out of character. Similar type handles can be seen on Staffordshire spaniels 1860-1920 and 1930 vases. With a little research we traced it to what appears an identical handle on the majolica glazed Nelson character head shown on our Pin Board, it considered a later example of a Victorian jug that has a cobalt blue coat. There had to be doubts to the authenticity of this Sinner because the collector describes it as a prototype c1800, that presumably was portrayed to him at the time of purchase. Considering if a piece is genuine or contemporary will always be subjective, it will always be impossible to prove when the Sinner was made but it should be considered one of those questionable jugs where price becomes the important issue. I have never personally been influenced with dates and attributions, providing you like an item and it is the right price for its quality and period, that is all that matters. Fakes and alterations bother collectors enormously, Captain Price dedicated a complete page in his book to highlight his concerns on a particular Toby jug that he thought was fake. The skill to collecting today is not as simple as in his day, you not only have to contend with understanding what is traditional and what is not but also those restoration makeovers we so often see.
Thanks to the collector allowing us to use his photograph for reference.
More emphasis should be placed on identifying an item to be genuine. Lately it seems that all that is required to convince someone that their Toby jug is antique is a name and date (circa) where C is fast becoming the new tweet for century.
As inexperienced collectors we once bought an Enoch Wood enamel Toby jug from the Pinho collection. Having decided to clean what was a dirty jug we soon discovered why it looked so distressed. Having soaked it in a bucket of water for an hour its facial restoration of polyfilla and water colour dissolved never to be seen again. Water colours are great for enamel restoration but forget bath time.
A very rare marked Ralph Wood dog on a plinth base is coming to auction, this can be seen on our new Staffordshire Antique Pottery page. A collector wrote and suggested our Whieldon type Squire Toby jug could have been made by Ralph Wood. If you compare the Squire jug with the dog he does have a point but for now we are sticking with our attribution as Whieldon school. See More.. Ralph Wood dog on plinth base.
Have you noticed how collectors are paying huge sums for late 1820's Toby jugs, some of them being brown which is as unpopular as white. Mackintosh would have never considered such late jugs. This week a basic reasonable quality Hearty Goodfellow of the same date didn't sell at a mere £80.
What appears to be a nice looking anchor marked Davenport Staffordshire Toby jug failed to sell at Roseberys fine art sale having an estimate of £200-300. It remained on offer with a revised price of £140 for a limited time after the sale which has now ended but still failed to sell. This would be an excellent Toby jug to start a collection.
Gerrards Auction Rooms 10.7.14
Three Items of 19th Century Staffordshire Country Ware that are definately worth a closer look.
See More... Kent Staffordshire Toby Jugs
Condition Reports. 10.7.14.
Neale and Co. Enamel decorative Staffordshire Toby jug needs a closer inspection.
See More... Enamel Antique Toby Jug.
Two antique Toby jugs realise a respectable £420 bid.
Sold in their general interior sale were these two clean un-restored Toby jugs, the prize one being the John Walton Staffordshire example (right). Although it did not have the Walton raised scroll mark the modelling and decoration left little doubt as to who potted this ordinary Toby jug. The other example with it was either Davenport or Scottish. Once again and in contrast to the recent poor results of restored examples, good quality always sells well at all levels.
Stair Galleries. 17.5.14
Stair Galleries offered a private collection of Staffordshire Toby Jugs which followed in the wake of their successful October sale that yielded some impressive Staffordshire pottery results. I was able to trace most of the important Toby jugs through past catalogues and had noted the restoration when viewed in the UK. It has to be said that they were not the best examples but with modest estimates were worth following, the Thin Man Toby jug being the better of the desirable examples that was on offer.
See More... Staffordshire Toby Jugs
Bonhams London. 21.5.14
There were six lots of Staffordshie Toby jugs on offer in this specialist ceramic sale, being imported they carried an extra premium of 5% vat. It was nice to meet Fergus Gambon for the first time, who was very helpful with the condition of the jugs. There was only one Toby jug in this sale that I found interesting which was the "Step" Whieldon in Lot 41. There were two jugs in this lot, the other being a plain Collier type Toby jug that had a rich glaze but poor mould and the hat had been totally replaced/restored. I was expecting to find the Step Toby in good condition but it disappointingly had restoration to the hand, all of the pipe and parts of the small jug, those areas being important for any serious collector. See More... Staffordshire Toby Jugs
The recent run of bad results for restored Toby jugs continued with the sale of two Prattware Toby jugs at Clevedon Salerooms. Both Toby jugs were restored or had condition issues and carried an estimates of £3-500 each but only one manage to sell which was at the low estimate of £280. Clevedon auctions is one of the better rooms with a good international following so the Toby jugs would have had the best possible exposure.
Peter Francis Auction.
The ten Carruthers WW1 Toby jugs were sold at Peter Francis for £6500, a fair price for what is considered fairly common models, this makes Botha look ridiculously out of touch when offered for sale at £6000 alone.
It's seems to be getting harder than ever to find quality untouched pieces. That's five sales in a row without being able to buy a single Toby jug. Reading an article last week on a good informative Staffordshire site specializing in bocage figures highlighted the recent low values for relatively rare items. The pair of Walton "Old Age" (illustrated front page) are not rare but are lovely, they also struggled and sold on the reserve (Bellmans) for a mere £90.
It is always down to the buyer to satisfy themselves as to the condition when buying at auction. In our buyers guide we recommended a commission be paid to an experienced dealer if you are unable to attend a sale where they would view on your behalf. This recommendation has now been withdrawn from our buyers guide. It was misleading when not considering personal opinions as to condition and quality that can vary tremendously.
F.Carruthers Gould WW1 Toby jugs.
I hope you have checked the auction preview and noted the Carruthers Gould Toby jugs being sold at Peter Francis. The group of ten offered is minus Kitchener, he was the first in the series to be potted and originally offered in the same quantity as Botha. I find this ironic that this jug appears to be the collector's stumbling block and is in line with the news report. Ref..D2. It's important to avoid restoration on these 20th century Toby jugs, if there is a little then make sure it's on the examples that can be easily replaced. "When waiting for a bus three come along together". If 250 Botha's were to come together at six thousand pounds each, the price currently quoted, it would equate to £1,500,000, now there's a thought when you next swipe your Toby oyster card!
Damaged Whieldon Staffordshire Toby Jug.
This interesting Whieldon type Toby jug was sold last week at Stride and Son auctioneers. It would have been a nice Toby jug to own should it not have been damaged and poorly made. The multi lot which includes a damaged group of the Vicar and Moses made a bid of £620. The handle had completely gone and it had suffered a huge unsightly firing fault across a large portion of the hat and face. There was also another smaller firing fault across his leg. The quality of the glaze finish was excellent when compared to the questionable crazed similar jug recently sold in Canada. News Ref.H1.2013.
See More... Whieldon Staffordshire Toby Jug
Restoration. The Marmite of the antiques world. Love it or hate it,
it will not go away.
Reputation is everything.
One of the best compliments you can receive is when you assemble your sale purchases is to hear someone say. "They buy all the good Toby jugs". It's all about having an eye for quality. Buying flaked or broken Toby jugs and hearing comments like, "That lot will take some sticking back together" would make me cringe. But now it seems restoration of smashed items has become fashionable, push it to the forefront and be proud of it, show pictures of before and after, if you recommend restoration long enough it might eventually be accepted by all! This cavalier approach seems boastful and is totally opposite to our view and that of other serious collectors. We seem to be constantly reading praises for smashed items in contrast to the experts warnings from programs such as the Antiques Roadshow. Another point that no one has even considered is the importance of the global internet which should in the future give better cross referencing for most toby jugs prior to purchase, this would kill the need for a condition report stone dead. Any synthetic material used for repair will in time fade unlike reputation once acquired never changes. See More
Hartleys 26.3.14. Now if there is one sale I needed to view for reference it had to be Hartleys 26.3.14, but 250 miles away to view a possible contemporary Toby jug, the car said "No". I have only ever once bought a similar model to this sailor which was the flat hat type and grew to disliked it. There were only two Toby jugs in the sale, one was a standard Leeds traditional Toby jug, it looked very clean with good mould definition and realised a respectable £550. The other was a blue and white sailor that had damage and was the one that really concerned me. Were others also having the same doubts because £840 is a shallow price difference that bears no relation for their considered rarity status. The auction house catalogued it c1900, so the valuer must have thought it to be late given its clinical white look, although it must be said that the traditional Leeds Toby Jug circa 1785 was also offered dated as c1900. The hat (sailor) was broken off and stuck back on, all to often we see major damage on these jugs. It had one asset going for it, there was a detatchable hat/measure, unfortunately enquiring for more detail found this to be glued in position so only the top shape is visible for inspection. These Toby jugs can be seen offered for sale with a date of 1790 which is the time when the Woods were potting, this Ralph Wood model is clearly not made by them, the measure alone being very reminiscent of our friend the light bulb, the original one being much squarer. That's all I can say about a missed opportunity to an ongoing reference project that would have shed more light on these blue and white Toby Jugs.There will never be a substitute for handling. Well done Hartleys for erring on the side of caution. See More
Offered for sale at Bonhams was a collection of early Staffordshire jugs and mugs, eight of the lots being Toby jugs. These had been shipped in from abroad and carried an extra penalty of 5% on top of the 25% commission plus vat already payable on the first £10000.
Its at this point I usually describe the ensuing excitement when the first Toby jugs are offered, surely collectors have saved their money for this sale considering the poor results from the Woolley and Wallis auction? ......No.
Well how many collectors were in the room?..... None.
What about bids left on the book.? ....................None
But there is always interest from the phones.....interest on only one lot from one phone.
The internet then? ......one bidder for one lot..... one bidder for three lots.
Overall the Toby jugs were all badly damaged and received little interest, the reserves were set ambitiously high ultimately resulting in artificial respectable prices for the ones that did sell.
Controversial Long Face Staffordshire Toby Jug.
It has been two years since we first wrote the article Contemporary Toby jugs part one. We haven't seen any of these controversial Toby jugs sold in that time until this week and it was interesting to see how collectors viewed them. The two long faces were offered at separate auctions and were important for different reasons. The white example can be compared to both the enamel and the Pratt-ware one discussed in our article, they share more features of both which leaves little doubt that they are potted by the same pottery. The article will be updated in due course. The other one (left) had all the usual characteristics and colours we come to expect on the common model. Catalogued with a date of 1800 with an estimate of £500-600 it failed to receive a bid and will no doubt be offered again at a later date.... See More
Woolley Wallis auctions. sale 25.2.14
Last week saw the sale of a private collection of Staffordshire toby jugs at Woolley & Wallis, Salisbury Salerooms, I was unable to attend the auction but was aware of the collection having viewed it earlier. It was always going to be unpredictable having had Fieldings successful auction of the Mackintosh toby jugs within two weeks. The results appear to be disappointing although there were a couple of surprises and these were picked up by collectors through our post. One thought he had missed something special in the two Leeds type jugs lots 446 and 452 which did rather well regarding price. I suggested that they reacquaint themselves with our article. "The Humble Leeds", I like to think or hope that collectors find our articles useful in the pursuit of good toby jugs. The collection offered were an eclectic mix from contemporary to early running glaze and all in differing states of quality. There was one special traditional toby, that has to be revered by its new owner, as rare as a Standing Postillion masquerading as a Hearty Goodfellow, this toby would take pride of place in any collection and would always be a talking point, it is of course Ricky Gervais, (lot 449 bid £420), the beard making him a sure give-away. The few serious highlights were, a Ralph Wood type with unusual coloured blue coat and restored hat (Lot 480 £1100), the price well in line with others recently sold of this popular model. A full multicoloured Leeds toby made £900 (shown left) and a traditional Leeds at £420. A Prattware Long-Face £800 and a very heavily restored pale discoloured Step Whieldon £800. The prices overall seemed depressed to previous sales which could be seen all to clearly in all ordinary examples. Lot 441, a common later copy Yorkshire type so often sold as c1800 for £400 only realised £190, a considerable drop in any standard. This theme continued with a Walton Hearty Goodfellow at £300 and a Traditional Walton at £250, commission on all lots was 22% plus VAT. The full auction catalogue can be viewed with all illustrations at Woolley and Wallis Saleroom, Salisbury. Pottery Porcelain & Glass sale.25th February 2014.
There were two Rodney's Sailor toby jugs offered that were not the best examples. They were previously sold at auction in the last ten years giving us the opportunity to compare prices. The early running glaze Sailor lot 447 was first sold at Skinner's, USA sale in 2006 for £1651.35 + shipping and import charges. ($3055/ Dollar Rate 1.85=£1/ Lot 271. Coil Collection 15th -July-2006). The hat was broken in several pieces and repainted, there were numerous other cracks to the jug, this realised £1200 plus commission. The enamel Sailor lot 451 was sold at Halls, Shrewsbury in 2008 for £1900 total. It started out with a deep blue coat which has now changed to turquoise, the hat was completely replaced (poorly) and numerous other damage, it realised £700. Acquiring the two toby jugs from dealers and assuming a 25% profit margin with a 10% vendors fee, a fair modest calculation of the two jugs show a total loss of approximately 65%. Condition seems to have taken its toll when compared to the buoyant prices of the Mackintosh jugs. Although not a better investment than money in the bank at this time, a good collection is achievable at a reasonable cost when sort direct from auction, especially at these prices. The other advantage of buying at auction is that clean items can still be acquired untouched by an unskilled restorers hand.
This sale had excellent detailed condition reports provided by Clare Durham, as did Fieldings provided by Nicholas Davies & Will Farmer. How refreshing to have accurate condition reports, the few auctions that merely state, "well it looks all right to me" have to change.
Article with full illustrations. See More... Antique Toby Jugs
Fieldings Auctioneers, Sale date 8.2.14.
Mackintosh provenance toby jugs: Staffordshire antique pottery at its best.
It's always nice to meet up with collectors/dealers when viewing a sale that once was our local several years ago. We received some nice comments from collectors that our site is helping them in the pursuit of good quality jugs at auction, this is encouraging. Like the Grantham sale, fresh to the market items always create interest, in this case four desirable Mackintosh toby jugs which must have been bought directly by the vendor from the 1967 ceramic sale. The first of the Staffordshire toby jugs and subsequent models that were ordinary had a lukewarm reception. This soon changed to intensity with the offering of the first Mackintosh toby jug lot 204 (left). I can't recall having seen this form of toby jug from this potter in forty years of dealing, wonderful. A low reserve meant there were no telephones bids but that didn't deter it making a bid of £2300. The second Mackintosh toby jug lot 205 was a Ralph Wood hooked nose toby, rich in colour and in mint condition it was contested by six telephones and numerous bids from the floor and book, a bid of £2300 achieved. Lot 207 was a Mackintosh Ralph Wood 51 impressed raised cup, wonderful aubergine coat but a little over burning to the base. With just age related wear and pleasing face it was bid again to £2300, quite expensive when compared to a similar better example sold in South Ken. (sale news/ref.A9.2013). The last of the Mac jugs was lot 213, a traditional Staffordshire model toby with raised cup face. This had a pleasing colour combination and good mould although there was a little age related wear around the base. It received a bid of £2100, a little expensive for an ordinary model that is common. Remember, any attempt to restore some of the age related wear will DEVALUE your toby jug. Please don't do it.
The in-between toby jug lots I felt were dragged upwards from the fallout of the Mackintosh name. A poor quality traditional running glaze toby jug with measure, lot 208 was over-burnt all over, it was bid to £1050. Lot 213, a Ralph Wood impressed 51 raised cup had its skewift tri-corn hat replaced, possibly from another damaged toby, it realised a bid of £1200. There was an unusual toby jug (lot 210), that from the internet illustration looked to be Russian in origin, it wasn't. It was huge in size and had late gold highlights suggesting a date of 1880 onwards, unusual. Please write if you know the potter.
The desirable sleeper at the sale should it have been in good un-restored condition was lot 206, a Prattware Postillion toby which is illustrated on the auction preview. The whole hat had been restored (wrong shape) and the cup and right hand were replaced. It made £1400 bid. This far exceeds the price achieved by an enamel small Postillion that was recently sold in a multiple lot of five for a mere £188 inclusive at Bonhams in Oct 2012. Small enamel Postillion condition (Bonhams): Considerable damage/restoration to the hat, face, handle and the base.
See More... Mackintosh provenance Toby jugs
Provenance and the Old Toby Jug.
Half the fun of collecting Toby jugs is having the opportunity to be able to research a little of their history. Today this is often lost unless recorded in a saleroom catalogue on dispersal of the collection. In the past things were very different, Granny's sale would be local gossip, especially if some of her contents made prices that stood out from every day living costs. That antique Toby jug along with a little history of the owner would be reported in the local weekly columns. Sadly those days have gone, but Granny's treasured heirlooms still come on to the market with yellowing newspaper cuttings that can still be found screwed up and forgotten inside the Toby jug. These can make interesting reading and could turn up some fascinating facts about previous owners. Provenance can increase the value of your Toby jug and the temptation to delve into the past can be inspiring resulting in some great conversational stories which are a real bonus. A recent viewing of two special Toby jugs complete with news cuttings turned out to be very interesting. They were Tobys that should be on everyone's wish list, rare and sharing several unusual features, these two fresh to the market Toby jugs had to be originally purchased before collecting became fashionable. The cuttings were from the Daily Telegraph & Morning Post. Saturday Nov. 24, 1951 and read..."The late W. H. Berry, the comedian, formed a small collection of Staffordshire Toby jugs which fetched £531.00. two realising £66.00 each. Another Toby jug by Ralph Wood from an unnamed owner was sold for £190". The two Berry collection Toby jugs both had stickers to their bases reporting to be potted by Ralph Wood but were in fact Prattware. William Henry Berry (23 March 1870-2 May 1951). Billed as W. H. Berry an English comic actor. Born in London at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to a theatre booking agency, through which he acquired free seats for West End plays and musicals. Trained in concert entertainment and pierrot he appeared in musical comedy and comical character roles. One of his finest was as "Mr. Meebles", an unfortunate magistrate in the musical production of "The Boy" in 1917. He was heard on radio within the first few months of launching the BBC, and was still broadcasting well into the late 1930's. As his skills of performing developed he was invited into productions including: The Merry Widow.1907, Havana.1908, A Waltz Dream.1908 and The Dollar Princess.1908. His stage and radio work saw several return castings with Mr. Micawber being broadcast in 1938. He died in Herne Bay at the age of 81 with The Times obituary published 4th May 1951 page 8. Like other collectors from the entertainment world his interest might have been fuelled by having spare time between performances. Museums, galleries and auctions are numerous especially in London.
BBC Antiques Roadshow from Exeter. 23.3.14.
Did you manage to catch the new series of the Antique Roadshow this week? "Rouges Gallery" returned with some scary facts. Fergus Gambon and Fiona discussed four pieces of Whieldon type Staffordshire pottery that were displayed where one was supposedly a fake, it certainly fooled me. You can still catch it on I player till the end of the week. The four pieces can be seen below each illustrated with a coloured card for reference. The large tea caddy (green) is a dream, the milk jug (blue) fairly standard with the red teapot being the fake. Now if there is one piece I am not going to buy at any money it has to be the yellow one. Close up the sprig work looks fine but from a distance it looks awkward, gangly, badly assembled with the colours being indifferent, this might be because it has been smashed / restored. Apparently the fake teapot is so good it fooled nearly every expert that a thermoluminescence test was performed. Having replayed the program for a more in depth look I could not really spot much to object to apart that it follows an enamel design. Without handling it is difficult to assess colour and I would not expect the coloured glaze to run evenly across the base of the feet, they would tend to form drips on the edge. The only other defence you have is to compare weight, size and a good fitting lid. If the teapot is a fake then the running glaze is the best I have seen reproduced. The test technique can be read at http://daybreaknuclear.us/bortolot_faq.html#2 and is by no means 100%. There was no mention of whether the other pieces were tested but what I recall seeing offered at the Top ceramic shows during the 1980's, (Fergus giving the teapot the same date), the effort to create such a quality forgery on such a plain ordinary item, in my opinion, would be counter-productive. This fake teapot is probably linked to similar sold in the Weldon forgery case of the 90's, and it just goes to show it's still buyer beware. Buying antique ceramics can be difficult at the best of times, after wading through the restoration and alterations we now need this thermoluminescence HPI check for complete piece of mind. Before this you should first ask yourself one question. Does the seller really understand or believe what's written on their description.
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