Another exceptional design is the Gulliver handle based on his bizarre travels and his shipwreck on the island of Lilliput, with the two little Lilliputians perched on top of a tower as they attempted to lift a strand of hair from the characters head in order to tie down the ‘giant’. As Gulliver was only produced for a short time, from 1962 to 1967, it has now become a sort after jug.
From these and many more examples, we can see the inspired and creative potential for character jug handles and how they have become more and more inspired over the years. One of my favourites is Genie and his hair that becomes the flame that then becomes his lamp and in this case I must admit the body of the jug with is wonderful pointed ears, huge eyebrows, all seeing eyes and pouty lips places him firmly in my top ten. He was only produced for one year, 1991 and his short production run has also made this a jug to keep an eye out for.
Deciding on what association to create with a character must be a dilemma in itself for the artist, but Michal Abberley seems to have come up with an ingenious solution to this dilemma with his Santa Claus character jug. The handle has evolved from the very basic candy cane to a reindeer, toy stocking and Christmas tree to name a few.
In some cases slight changes to the handle during production period have resulted in a significant increase in value of the jug. The miniature Old Salt is worth a mention here, first introduced in large and small size in 1961 with a mermaid handle. With her left arm raised behind her head leaving a noticeable space in the crook of her arm. The miniature size produced in 1983 however no long has this space due to production problems it is assumed. There were however a few piloted and produced with the arm crook space present and these have become highly sought after by collectors and therefore worth significantly more than the no arm crook space miniature. Another to keep an eye out for is Anne of Cleeves, her handle is in the shape of a horses head, in 1980 these were produced with ears pointed up, standing proud of its head. However, as many of these suffered damage during transit it was decided a remodel was called for and the later version shows the ear lying flat against the head. Again, the pointed ears earlier version is harder to find, more sought after and therefore commands a far higher price than the later flat ears version. I would be amiss if I did not mention the Beefeater in this paragraph, this handle is not illustrated in the standard way. Introduced in 1947, the handle bears the initials ‘GR’ (George Rex) signifying the Beefeaters position as a member of the King George’s royal family. In 1953 when Elizabeth ascended to the throne, the jug was updated to represent the new monarch with the initials now reading ‘ER’ (Elizabeth Regina). The earlier GR version now commands a far higher price than the ER version and there also exists a third version which is known as the gold handle Beefeater. This handle is decorated in many colours with an intricate gold thread pattern running through it and yes, you guessed it, this is the most highly sought after of the Beefeater variations.
Slight variations exist in many jugs and it’s advisable to have a closer look at your collection to see if you have one of the sought after variations without even knowing it. In particular, John Peel’s riding crop was produced in both orange and grey – the orange version is the less common of the two. The earlier John Barleycorn handle disappears into the jug while the later version stops at the side. The John Doulton jug issued in 1980 to founder members of the collecting club shows the clock pointing to eight o’clock with the two o’clock version being a later release. Very early versions of Sairey Gamp have an ‘S’ on the underside at the bottom of the handle.
My Top 10 Character Jug Handles (this changes almost daily):
2. Captain Hook (1st version)
3. Ugly Duchess
4. Johnny Appleseed
7. Fortune Teller (2nd version)
8. Old Salt
9. Buddy Holly
10. The Collector
On that note I wish you well on your hunt for even more treasure in your collection and if you have any questions at all please contact me at royaldoultonguide.com and I will do my best to assist.