Character jugs

Words by:
William Gregory MRICS
Featured in:
December 2018

A good auction crowd often contains a number of characters to entertain the buyers and a good chattels catalogue is rarely without a character jug, by William Gregory MRICS, Golding Young and Mawer.
The Wilkinson Pottery factory better known for the production of Clarice Cliff commissioned a set of character jugs in the early 20th century. The jugs were designed by Sir Francis Carruthers Gould, a name few people these days might have heard of. However, towards the end of Queen Victoria’s reign he was one of Britain’s foremost caricaturists and political cartoonists. His work was often based on greats such as William Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens, using his literary knowledge to portray politicians and other people in the public eye in an amusing way.

From 1915 to 1920 Carruthers Gould was commissioned by the Wilkinson Pottery in Staffordshire to design a series of jugs based on the political and military leaders of World War One. Over a number of years collectors have aspired to collect the full set, but with one slight drawback – only 150 of the Louis Botha jugs were ever made, making a maximum of only 150 full sets possible. A full set recently came up for auction in Lincoln and sold for £3,600. Also related to the set is a very similar Clarice Cliff character jug of Winston Churchill. It was originally designed as part of the set but Wilkinson withdrew it from production in 1915 after Churchill’s resignation over the Dardanelles debacle. It had to be remodelled with a bulldog by Clarice Cliff in 1939 after the breakout of the Second World War. This jug sold for £850.

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