A Toby jug is a ceramic pitcher modeled in the form of a person or character either real or fictional. This pair of Toby jugs were made by the famous firm founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. They were produced to commemorate Elihu Yale, benefactor of Yale University.** The form was taken from a 1717 painting of him that is owned by the Yale University Art Gallery, painted by portrait artist Enoch Seeman. It was sculpted by Robert G. Eberhard, a professor of sculpture at Yale School of Fine Arts.
According to the Wedgwood Museum, the Elihu Yale Toby jug is the only item of its type to have been produced by the Wedgwood firm. The jugs were made for the Yale Publishing Association in light brown, blue, dark brown and the cream colored clay with a clear glaze shown here. They were sold in the University bookstore in the 1930's. (If you see a Toby jug marked Wedgwood & Co., it's from a different pottery, not Josiah Wedgwood and not of the same quality).
The jugs depict a seated Yale with his legs crossed, the spout formed by his hat and they have a nicely-decorated curvy handle. They each stand 6 1/2 inches tall, with a base 4 inches by 5 inches. They are identical in every way except for the markings on the bottoms. Impressed on one is "THE ELIHU YALE TOBY PATENT D-91059 R.G.E. SCULP. 1933 WEDGWOOD MADE IN ENGLAND" This jug also has an impressed year mark: 12Y33, signifying it was made in December 1933 (the Y is the workman's initial.) The other jug is impressed with "THE ELIHU YALE TOBY PATENT APPLIED FOR R.G.E. SCULP. 1933 WEDGWOOD MADE IN ENGLAND" and is stamped in black with "PAT. D-91059" We chose to do a close-up photo of this one, as it is a bit easier to read (but not by much--be sure to use your zoom).
Both Yale Toby jugs are in excellent condition with slight discolorations along the edges of the interior bottoms. The jug that has the ink stamp on the bottom has some faint crazing at the spout and on the bottom; the other one does not. There are no chips, cracks, hairlines, flea bites and virtually no wear. Each weighs about 1 1/2 pounds. These jugs are uncommon and a pair of them is a remarkable find.
**From the Yale University website: Although Elihu Yale was born in Boston, Colony of Massachusetts, in 1649, when he was three his family moved back to England and he would never return to North America. Elihu amassed his fortune serving the East India Trading Company and as a governor of Madras (in India). In 1714, Elihu made an initial donation of forty books to the Collegiate School in Connecticut, which relied heavily on public support for its survival.
In 1718, Elihu made another donation of 417 books, a portrait and coat of arms of King George I, and nine bales of goods worth £562.12. To show their appreciation, the trustees of the Collegiate School of the Colony of Connecticut renamed a newly erected building, and so the school itself, after Elihu Yale. Elihu’s gift was the largest private contribution made to the college for the next century.