Puttin’ on the ritz (Part 3) – the introduction of Doulton’s ‘Character Jugs’

The introduction of Doulton’s ‘Character Jugs’

Together with the re-establishment of Staffordshire figure production, Noke senior also strived to re-introduce the long neglected production of Staffordshire Toby Jugs. Thus in the swinging 20’s Noke’s toby jugs of Charlie Chaplin and George Robey were introduced.


The very rare Charlie Chaplin toby jug

These are very rare today, and a further jug of a Huntsman from 1919 were the sole productions, until Doulton introduced their own version of the traditional Toby Jug, more commonly known to us as Character Jugs. Unlike the traditional Toby Jug, Doulton’s Character Jugs focussed on only the head of their character. Thus in 1934 the first Jugs, John Barleycorn and Old Charley, were introduced.


The ever popular John Barleycorn and Old Charley jugs

They were swiftly followed by many other instantly recognisable faces including Sairey Gamp, Dick Turpin and Parson Brown. The first reference to character jugs is recorded in Doulton’s factory design books in 1935. Before the end of 1934 another modeller was coming to the fore of character jug design, he was Harry Fenton, who together with Charles Noke, jointly and later separately were responsible for all the jugs introduced until 1948. The range was quickly expanded to include small size jugs in 1935, and then a medium size in 1938 of 6 dickens jugs, which proved unpopular and were withdrawn in 1948.

Since that time we have grown used to referring to large, small, miniature and tiny jugs. A more recent attempt at medium jugs has been tried but that is for a future article! The late 1930’s also saw the introduction of the first Character Jug derivatives including tobacco jars, musical jugs and even tea pots.


Three wonderful Old Charley derivatives

The beginning of WWII brought the inevitable slowing down of production and the introductions of new jugs just as it did with the figure department, although prototypes were being made such as the infamous Maori and the white matt Winston Churchill loving cup of 1941, produced specially for the ‘American and Empire markets’.


Three views of the famous Winston Chruchill jug

With many hundreds of Jugs having now been introduced, amongst them variations, prototypes and others with often subtle variations, this area of collecting Doulton often becomes intense with a few die hard collectors willing to part with tens of thousands of dollars to secure that one piece. This fever is fuelled by specialist books on the subject as well as many clubs and societies the world over. Here  you can see a selection of particular raritites and favourites…..




An ever popular book on the subject is Jocelyn Lukins’ Collecting Doulton Character Jugs, available exclusively through the link below:



5 thoughts on “Puttin’ on the ritz (Part 3) – the introduction of Doulton’s ‘Character Jugs’”

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