As a very keen Royal Doulton character jug collector, I have spent too many hours to mention reading everything and anything to do with the subject. And like every other addicted collector, spend many, many, many hours checking various on-line auctions, local auction houses, charity shops, on-line classifieds, fairs – everywhere and anywhere in fact, in search of that ‘little gem’ to add to my collection.
I am tempted to start the story of how I came to own the Royal Doulton McCallum character jug with the famous ‘picture the scene’, because it really was one of those moments in my collecting life.
Working for myself allows me the luxury of dividing my day up into segments so I can focus equally on all the various things I need to get done on any given day. So once the emails have been checked and responded to, I move onto my ‘search segment’, which in a nutshell is me looking at various on-line sites that sell vintage Royal Doulton pieces. It was while doing one of these searches that I came across an item advertised as ‘Royal Doulton Jug “Them Callum”, with a very strange looking thumbnail image alongside the text. I was instantly intrigued and decided to have a closer look at the other images posted, the closer I looked the more noise the penny made as it dropped. Unless my eyes were deceiving me, this was the very rare large McCallum character jug made by Royal Doulton for D. & J. McCallum Distillers of Edinburgh, Scotland, that I had read about in Jocelyn Lukins’s, Collecting Royal Doulton Character & Toby Jugs.
To quote from the book:
‘1000 – 1500 copies in Kingsware Glaze c. 1910. A white version by Royal Doulton exists made from a slightly different mould…’
So I had established that this was indeed the white version of Royal Doulton’s McCallum and although the condition of the jug was not perfect, it was still a very rare item of porcelain that had very likely spent many of it’s 100 years surviving the less than careful sober wear and tear that goes along with being a water jug standing on the bar of the local pub. Even with the damage, the very low starting bid on the jug lead me to believe that the seller wasn’t aware of just how rare this jug is. The auction had a week to run and I noticed the jug had had no bids yet, which is not that unusual, some bidders like to wait until an item is about to close to place their bids and so a mad flourish of bids at the close of an auction is often par for the course with on-line auctions. I of course was much too excited to hold back, I immediately typed in my opening bid and set my limit, checking in daily and often hourly to see if I had been outbid and also on how many people had viewed the jug. Hoping that it hadn’t caught the attention of any of the serious collectors with much bigger budgets than I have – needless to say, it was a very long week! But at the end of it all, I was the only bidder and was lucky enough to purchase the much sought after white version McCallum by Royal Doulton at the starting bid amount that was well within even my measly budget. To say I was thrilled when the auction eventually closed would without a shadow of a doubt be the understatement of the century!!!!!
Although the only jug in my collection with damage and also the plainest least decorated, the McCallum stands out in terms of its age and rarity. And personally I have to admit that I have no intention of restoring the McCallum to its straight out of the Doulton factory perfection as I believe its imperfections are part of its story and that for now this McCallum story ends with me makes the jug perfect to me.
For more on Royal Doulton please visit http://www.royaldoultonguide.com