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Christmas Toby Jug

ceramic jug in the shape of a man holding a basket of food and wearing holly on his hat

Many people will enjoy a Christmas drink over the festive period, although few will drink from a vessel quite like this one from the Decorative Art collection at National Museums Liverpool.

This Toby Jug is in the shape of a man holding a basket, presumably containing food for a Christmas feast, with a rabbit on the top. ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ is written along the bottom.

The jug dates from about 1840-1850 and is made from moulded earthenware with painted enamel polychrome decoration. It is probably from Staffordshire.

This Toby Jug is not currently on display but you can see other highlights from the Decorative Art collection in the Craft and Design| gallery at the Walker.

Toby Jugs

Toby Jugs or 'Fillpots' were first made in Staffordshire and originally date from around the second half of the 18th century. They usually feature a somewhat chubby man with a bad complexion, a pipe in one hand and a beer mug in the other.

The name is suggested to have come from one Toby Philpot (Fill pot) who was the subject of a song called 'The Brown Jug' written in 1761. Toby Philpot was the nickname of Harry Elwes, a celebrated toper (a toper who is someone who likes a drink or five) who was said to be the model for the original jug.

Accession number 9.3.26.63