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 . . .

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