Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Hearty Goodfellow: Blue Willow Toby

 These adorably stout little guys are called Tobies.  A Toby is a figural ceramic / earthenware piece, often a pitcher or jug, moulded into the form of a popular character.  Often, these characters are historical in nature, such as Winston Churchill, but the original Tobies date back to the 1760's shortly after the invention of transferware and were made in the form of jovial, stout men dressed in clothing of the period: knee length breaches, waistcoat, tricorn hat, frock coat, neckerchief and black buckle shoes, often seated, puffing away on a pipe and almost always clutching onto a pitcher or jug of frothy ale.  

A Four Piece "Toby Jug" Cruet Set, probably Prestonpans, 19th century, comprising pepper pot, salt, vinegar and mustard.

 These cruet sets are most often attributed to one of the potteries in the town of Prestonpans, east of Edinburgh, in Scotland.   This was an an ideal location for the development of potteries as early as the 17th century due to the ample supplies of coal and clay that were easily transported by sea to the south side of the Firth of Forth,  These Tobies are sometimes referred to simply as Prestonpans, dating back to the early 19th century and included figures for salt, mustard, vinegar and pepper.  They were made in other areas including Staffordshire, many by Royal Doulton and Spode, where other versions were produced.   

"With my pipe in one hand & jug in the other
I drink to my Neighbour & Friend
May cares in a whiff of tobacco I'll sother
For life you know shortly must end"

Each of the portly figures I'm featuring all have some area of blue transfer printed headgear, coats or bases and are attributed to Prestonpans, though many English potters made Tobies in other forms, such as Whieldon, Ralph Wood, Spode and Royal Doulton though most, if not all, do not feature the transfer printed areas on them which I think makes these so unique and interesting.  

Many collectors and historians have competing theories as to where the name Toby Jug comes from. Some say they are named after Sir Toby Belch, a character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night play.   "Tope" is a French word meaning to drink hard (a Tope, Toper, or Toby).  However most speculate that Tobies were named after Henry Elwes, aka as Toby Fillpot (or Philpot), renowned for his drinking prowess, and inspired by an old English drinking song, "The Brown Jug" which paid tribute to Toby Fillpot whose ashes were made into a Toby jug.

Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale-
In which I will drink to sweet Nan of the vale-
Was once Toby Fillpot, a thirsty old soul,
As e'er drank a bottle, or fathomed a bowl;
In bousing about 'twas his praise to excel,
And among jolly topers he bore off the bell.

It chanced as in dog-days he sat at his case,
In his flower-woven arbour, as gay as you please,
With a friend and a pipe puffing sorrows away,
And with honest old stingo was soaking his clay,
His breath-doors of life on a sudden were shut,
And he died full as big as a Dorchester butt.

His body when long in the ground it had lain,
And time into clay had resolved it again,
A Potter found out in its covert so sang,
And with part of fat Toby he formed this brown jug,
Now sacred to friendship and mirth, and mild ale,
So here's to my lovely sweet Nan of the vale!
~Frances Fawkes, 1761~

Below; a very rare set of four Prestonpans toby cruets, comprising a salt with a fixed dished circular hat as the bowl, a pepper pot with a fixed pierced tricorn hat, a vinegar jar with detachable conical hat and a mustard pot with a detachable hat, each with crimson coat, green tie, yellow breeches and black shoes, within transfer printed blue and white borders, 5 1/4" - 6 1/4" high

This set below sold on Atlas Antiques for about $5000

As cute as they are, they are valuable and probably not something I'll see in my collection any time soon!  Some of the sets still intact are housed in museums. 

Reference:  Plate XXXV Page 162 Scottish Pottery J Arnold Fleming
Belfield Potteries of Scotland
The Toby Collector

Joining some of these wonderful blogland parties and hosts:

Natasha In Oz Pieced Pastimes , Funky Junk Interiors ,It's OverflowingBe Different act Normal

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

English Cottage Living Room - Before, Partly After & Still a Work in Progress

I am sorry for not posting more pictures of the progress we've made settling into this new (to us) home.   It seems life rushes by so fast and that at times, doing little things, even those that I love and enjoy, often get pushed aside and onto the back shelf of my mind where I tell myself, "I'll get to this later".  Well, it is later and though I don't have as much to share with you as I'd like, I'm going to at least share my favorite spot in our living room.  I promise to show the rest of the room soon but for now the opposite half of the living room has been occupied by my daughters boyfriend who has been staying with us for the past 7 or so weeks until his apartment is ready for him to move into, and so the couch is usually made up for him to sleep on!  

Here is a photo of the current living room just as we found it, a small room just off the entry of the house with a nice marble and wood fireplace surround, hard wood floors, beautiful crown moulding and a neutral shade of paint that I am really happy with and glad not to have needed to repaint.  

I've always loved to incorporate English Cottage style in my decorating but I wanted this room to exude an even cozier feeling like that found in a Country house, just a tad less formal.  This corner is my favorite place in the house to have my morning coffee.  The red checked French chairs are some I found years ago at an estate sale for $25.  I refinished them myself and then had them professionally reupholstered in a Schumacher fabric.  They really need reupholstering again but even if I could afford to do that right now,  I'd probably do a very similar fabric as I love the buffalo checks.  The chairs are really comfy too!

I am also working on a post about a fairly recent find.  It's shown in the pic above and I can't wait to tell more about it. Hint:  It's not transferware!

Here's a little peak at the room taken from further back, looking in from the entryway.   Although I like the arrangement over the mantle, I'm already considering changing it up a bit.  I may move the dog portraits to another wall and hang a large mirror or painting there instead.   Or, maybe raise the banjo clock several inches and add some plates in an arched arrangement around it.  Or, maybe I'll do both! One change first…leave it awhile…then the other!  Who knows?!?!?  What do you think?   I'll share whatever it is that I do, when I do it.