English Staffordshire 1850 Martha Gunn Female Toby Jug Pitcher Vase


Brand staffordshire

An unusual and engaging Mid 19th Century Antique English Victorian Staffordshire Pottery Female "Toby"Jug, of Quart capacity, modelled in the form of a rather corpulent lady of mature years, gin bottle and gill in hand, naively painted in a typical though subdued palette, and standing upon a round base with raised floral decoration. Inspired perhaps by the earlier "Martha Gunn" models.Jugs of this type would have been used to replenish the mugs or tankards of customers who, having emptied their pots, then called to the bar for a "refill".


Note the handle was broken and sanded smooth, tight hairline in hat (sure inside photo)

Height ~ 10"  Width  5.50"

Circa 1850


Martha Gunn (1726–1815) was possibly the most famous of the "dippers". A dipper was the operator of a bathing machine used by women bathers. The dipper pushed the machine into and out of the water and helped the bather into and out of the water. A dipper had to be large and strong to carry out this work and Martha Gunn fulfilled both requirements.

Martha Gunn was well known in the town and also known across the country. Her image appeared in many popular engravings including one in which she appeared repelling the invading French with a mop. In another she is seen standing behind Mrs Fitzherbert and The Prince of Wales (the future George IV).

Martha Gunn was said to be a favourite of the Prince of Wales and had free access to the royal kitchens. The Morning Herald described Martha Gunn as "The Venerable Priestess of the Bath"

There are competing theories for the origin of the name "Toby Jug". One is that it was named after the intoxicated, jovial character of Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night.  Another is that it was named after a notorious 18th-century Yorkshire drinker, Henry Elwes, who was known as "Toby Fillpot" (or Philpot),]who was mentioned in an old English drinking song The Brown Jug, the popular verses of which were first published in 1761. 


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