Royal Doulton Character Jug Prototypes – Part 2

The 1970’s saw many new modellers joining Royal Doulton and inevitably some of their early work was rejected. In 1975 Robert Tabbenor’s, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh was rejected and in 1977, Peter Gee’s Jester toby was another that did not get approval to go into production. A new addition to the Williamsburg range, Cabinet Make Of Williamsburg, was advertised in 1981, but was never released as it was decided to discontinue the range. However, in 1995 it did finally join the range as it was released at the RDICC (Royal Doulton International Collectors Club) convention in Williamsburg to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the club.

Bill Harper’s produced some truly remarkable designs, but he too had a few rejected along the way. His first character jug of a pirate was rejected in 1976 and in 1986 his portrait of Pierre Trudeau also fell by the wayside as the Canadian Prime Minister was no longer in office when the character jug was ready for release. His Elvis prototype produced for the celebrity range was also rejected by his estate and there were many other from this range that unfortunately met with the same fate. A Marilyn Monroe prototype found its way into the marketplace in 1992 and was sold at auction for $17,500.  The Marilyn Monroe prototype I would have to say is the ultimate dream jug for this collector.


In the late 1980’s a few more character jug prototypes never made it beyond this point, Robin Hood, by Eric Griffiths, Uncle Sam, by Harry Sales and a Prison Warder by Stanley Taylor and I’m sure there were a lot more that will at some point find their way to market in years to come.

Visit my website for more about character jugs and Royal Doulton.


Royal Doulton Character Jug Prototypes – Part 1

A prototype character jug are the samples taken from the master mould, often described as pilots or trials.  No more than two or three jugs are cast at this early stage, any more than that would wear down the detail on the mast mould.  They are then decorated in different manners with varying decorative elements.  The prototype that is eventually approved goes into production with many moulds then made, but the rejected jug only ever remains in the prototype form.

In the 1920’s Charles Noke designed a toby jug of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, but then had misgivings about portraying the strict abstainer as a toby jug.  The project was therefore abandoned, he gave one prototype to the decorator Ted Eley and another was presented to the Museum of the Wesley Church in Tasmania.

In the 1930’s it seems that the majority of jugs modelled did go into production, but the second world war interrupted several plans.  The Royal Doulton archives make reference to an Old Scrooge jug and another jug referred to as Red Wing, but no illustrations of either have been found.  The New Zealand Maori jug was modelled by Harry Fenton and was approved in 1939, but for reasons unknown it did not go into the general range.  A few examples have survived and can be found in private collections, the value of which runs into tens of thousands of Pounds.  Buffalo Bill also modelled by Harry Fenton, is another jug dating from the war years, no records of which exist today.

The 1950’s saw only two character jugs not making it into production, The Scarlet Pimpernell by George which appeared on the market in 1987.  Gary Sharpe’s Alice In Wonderland was also rejected in 1959 because of copyright restrictions, no examples have resurfaced.

The 1960’s saw a rejected Village Blacksmith rescued from a Royal Doulton rubbish skip by a factory worker, his family sold it in 1993 for thousands of Pounds.  It was thought to be one of Max Henk’s designs, it was given the pattern number D6549 in 1961, which makes it even more strange that it was never launched at all.

To be continued . . .

Caring For Your Royal Doulton Character Jugs

Royal Doulton character jugs are fairly low maintenance, thanks mostly to the glaze which seals the colours in and keeps them looking as vibrant as they did on the day they left the factory.  Having said that, everyone seems to have an opinion on the ‘right way’ to look after your collection.  I however do it ‘my way’, right or wrong, it works for me and my collection, so this post falls under the ‘use it, don’t use it’ this really is just what works for me in terms of a cleaning regime.

Firstly, as my display cabinet is packed to the brim and I’ve yet to finish refurbishing my other cabinet, I have some jugs displayed on top of the cabinet.  As these jugs are open to the elements, they need cleaning and dusting more often than those displayed within the cabinet.  So once a month for the jugs on the top and twice a year for those in the cabinet I find is sufficient to keep them looking as good as new.

The cleaning routine is as follows:

I full a basin with warm water with a dash of washing up liquid added and cover an area of the kitchen counter with a soft towel to create a drying area.

Using a soft sponge I wash one jug at a time to avoid needless ‘banging of heads’ that could result in chips, cracks, etc.

Once washed and rinsed under the tap I place the jug on the towel to drip dry, the towel is to protect the wet jug should it slip from my hands and fall onto the counter.

Using a soft cloth I then buff the jug until it looks as good as new.

And that is the short and tall of my cleaning regime – easier than you thought, I bet….

If you need any advice at all regarding looking after your collection please contact me via my website

The Collector – My Character Jug Of The Month – April 2013


The Collector – what I can say, besides for ‘wow!’ – from the very first moment I saw this jug on auction I had to have it and I don’t mean just had to have it, I mean HAD TO HAVE IT!  That look in his eyes is the same look I get when I admire a character jug, which leads me to believe that Stanley Taylor, his modeller and fast becoming my favourite artist, must too have a passion for character jugs, it would have been impossible to capture that look of admiration were he not.

The Collector was issued in the large size as a limited edition of 5000 in 1988 from the series, Collecting World.  Commissioned by Kevin Francis Ceramics and with the characteristic of the left handed jug.  The small size was issued in 1991 in a limited edition of 1500 pieces.

Do you have a favourite favourite?

Visit to comment on this blog or share your favourite’s with me.

Some tips on how to improve your Royal Doulton character jug collection

I’m not sure if this is unique to me or if any other collectors out there once bitten by the Royal Doulton bug also just went out and bought whatever they could afford at the time with little thought given to the collection itself and whether it should consist of jugs only of a certain size, subject, date, etc.  I remember being at a local auction and being advised by a much older and clearly much wiser collector of character jugs, to focus on a certain subject, collection or size rather than just buying whatever whenever as I would struggle to complete a collection with the hundreds of different characters produced by Royal Doulton and I would in all likely hood run out of room to display them all.  

Needless to say, after a couple of years of collecting, I soon realised that collecting large jugs meant having to have the space for either a very large display cabinet or lots of smaller cabinets, neither of which turned out to be an option for me.  With that in mind I set about selling a number of the more common large jugs to invest in one or two special edition or short production run jugs, these may be quite a bit harder to find and cost a little more, but their value will also continue to increase over time.

The first limited edition jug I bought was King And Queen Of Clubs which I found on Bid Or Buy, a South African based on line market place where sellers either put their goods up for sale at a set price or on auction with the item selling to the highest bidder.  As a regular buyer and seller on this site, I would highly recommend a visit if you’re looking for something in particular or just wanting to have a bit of a browse.  The King And Queen Of Clubs, D6999 was designed by Stanley James Taylor, issued in 1995 in a limited edition of 2500, as you can see below, my jug is number 1243 of 2500.  It is one of the suites from the playing card series.  Another reason I was particularly drawn to this jug was because it is double-sided, which opened a whole new possible  collecting direction.  To date I have not come across any of the other card suites in this series on sale in my price range, but I have no doubt that I will.


My second limited edition purchase, W.G. Grace, D6845, was at a live local auction and I was particularly drawn to this jug because I am a bit of a sports nut, so any time I can combine both my passion for Royal Doulton character jugs with my love of sport, is a red letter day for me.  The small jug was commissioned by Lawleys By Post, designed by Stanley James Taylor and issued in 1989 in a limited edition of 9,500 pieces to commemorate  William Gilbert Grace (1848 – 1915), the professional cricketer, better known as ‘The Champion’, who started playing cricket at 16 and retired at 60 after 44 record breaking seasons. As you can see below, my jug is number 7688 of 9500.


I also decided that due to the short one year production run of the ‘jug of the year’ that this too would be a good collecting direction to head in.  Starting in 1991, one jug was selected as jug of the year and luckily enough, the first one I managed to purchase was indeed the 1991 Fortune Teller jug of the year.  This is the only one I have managed to come across in my price range to date, but the search goes on and at the end of the day that is for me the greatest thrill of collecting out of production Doulton.


Let me know of any rare jugs you have added to your collection or even if you’re looking for a particular jug and I will add to my daily search list with pleasure and at no charge to you, as it really is a pleasure to search for Royal Doulton treasure and a thrill second to none when one actually finds it!!!!!

Visit and contact me with any comments or queries regarding anything Doulton.

The mystery of the white character jug

Fatboy 1

A few years ago I came across a Fatboy white jug on an online auction, although it appeared to have all the detail and features of the colour version in my collection, I had never heard of the unpainted white version and was instantly intrigued.  The auction didn’t have long to run, so any research time was non-existent, needless to say, this didn’t stop me from putting in a bid or two and eventually winning the jug.  At this point I made some enquiries and  soon realised that there are two schools of thought regarding the mystery of white Royal Doulton jugs.

The first school of thought and also the first explanation I was given is that these jugs were produced during war time when material restrictions were in place.  This made perfect sense to me as the jugs both carry the same ‘A’ back stamp, which dates them from between 1939 and 1955, which would put them in the correct time frame to have been produced during the second world war.

Fatboy 3

Then I did a little more research on my own and came across the second school of thought and this was that all white jugs with the exception of Churchill and McCallum are factory rejects.  I was less than charmed to hear I had spent my hard earned money on a ‘reject’ and was for obvious reasons, initially very reluctant to buy into this theory.  I must have been one of many non-believers as it was then explained how I would go about proving to myself that I had indeed purchased a factory reject.  I was to inspect the body of the jug while comparing it to the painted version and there was no doubt that on closer inspection I would indeed find the flaw that caused it to be rejected by factory quality control at an early stage.  Once I laid my painted Fatboy next to his pale cousin, it didn’t take me long to spot the flaw, which in my case was a pin prick size hole at the back of Fatboy’s head.

Fatboy 2

It also turns out that these were not war time productions at all as the restriction forbidding decoration was applied to tableware for the home market only and jugs produced between 1939 and 1946 were painted as usual, but were marked ‘For Export Only’.

What are your thoughts on the mystery?

Maybe you belong to another school of thought entirely?

Have you any of the pale cousins in your collection?

Visit and send me a mail as I am as intrigued today as I was on the day I bought my factory rejected, but much loved by me, white Fatboy.  

P.S. (It also helps to know that these once ‘rejects’ are now far more valuable than their painted cousins.)