Sunday, November 17, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: The George Robey Toby, c. 1930

Toby Jug
Royal Doulton, 1930
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This earthenware Toby Jug features a bowler hat as a lid. This is among a popular line of Toby Jugs which was manufactured in the 1930s and based on music hall performers.  This example is modeled on George Robey (1869–1954), who is considered one of Britain’s most successful music hall comedians--a master of comic songs, caricatures and sketches, who became known as “the Prime Minister of Mirth.”

George Robey was known for his trademark stage appearance, a costume which is captured in this jug - a long collarless frock coat, a semi-clerical bowler hat, a walking stick and enormous black eyebrows which he raised quizzically to “great comic effect.”

This glazed earthenware jug  boasts a pale green handle and base, and depicts George Robey, dressed in his usual black suit, a white shirt and a red spotted handkerchief, and carrying a cane under his left arm. His nose is glazed in a reddish hue and he has his trademark crescent-shaped eyebrows. The plinth of the toby bears the incised inscription “GEORGE ROBEY” and the initials “AHCH.F.F.RA.”  It was made in Stoke-on-Trent, England by Royal Doulton.

And, yes, for the last twenty minutes I've been muttering "Robey Toby, Robey Toby, Robey Toby..."

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