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A Short Overview Of SylvaC Pottery

SylvaC Pottery

A Short Overview Of SylvaC Pottery

For those of you whom are regular readers of my blog, you are probably now all aware of the fact that I love pottery! Over the years I have acquired many pieces from vases to ornaments, to whole tea and dinner services. I don’t just collect one manufacturer or style; it tends to be a mixture of things that appeal at the time of purchase. Some things were given as gifts by now, sadly, deceased relatives and these items have sentimental value; a contact with the past and a loving memory. Others appeal because of their colour or style.

One of the pottery manufacturers which I do admire is SylvaC Pottery, and I have collected several pieces over the years. One or two pieces I will never part with just because I love them so much! It’s not that they are all worth a small fortune; SylvaC is increasing in value but you can still pick up the more common models for below £20. It’s just that they are unusual but still immediately identifiable as SylvaC.

SylvaC Pottery:

The company, Shaw and Copestake (SylvaC) was founded in 1894 by William Copestake and William Shaw, in Longton, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire. Copestake left in 1895 and Richard Hull became Shaw’s partner, and was joined by Hull’s son (Richard Junior) in 1936.

The trade name SylvaC wasnt registered until 1937. Pieces prior to this date were not marked SylvaC. Some were marked ‘Silvo.’

In 1938, the partners bought Thomas Lawrence Falcon pottery.  The name ‘Falcon ware’ was used for pieces produced at both the Falcon and Sylvan (SylvaC) works until 1964. SylvaC continued to thrive as Shaw and Copestake until 1982 when it went into voluntary liquidation.

SylvaC are famous for their figurines of animals; in particular rabbits and dogs, but they also produced a wide range of novelty and character wares too.

Animals

Imps/ Gnomes/ Pixies

Most of us remember SylvaC in the orange and green matt glazes but they actually used quite a range of colours. Gloss glaze was introduced in 1970.

SylvaC Ware Model 5282 White Heraldic Brass Rubbing Tankard
SylvaC Ware Model 5282 White Heraldic Brass Rubbing Tankard

 

They were also well know for their  Dinnerware e.g. pots in the shape of vegetables with faces, and Toby/ Character Jugs, which were popular commemorative and advertising pieces.

SylvaC pottery
SylvaC model 4553 Beetroot Happy Face Pot

Backmark

During the 1920s/ 30s, SylvaC used a daisy wheel logo without the brand name ‘SylvaC’ and some of the very early pieces, pre 1920, were not marked at all!

Post 1937,  SylvaC  began using a more distinctive back mark, which usually included the model number and, post 1938, the SylvaC brand name, thus making SylvaC pieces considerably easier to identify and value. The company also used foil and paper stickers with the SylvaC logo but these had a habit of falling off!

The brand name SylvaC is still in existence today, and some of the vintage pottery has started to be reproduced with similar backmarks.

 

I hope you have enjoyed my short overview of SylvaC pottery. You may not know the name but I am sure you will have seen some of these wonderful pieces!

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What are Toby jugs and Character Jugs?

What are Toby jugs and Character Jugs: Two Small Vintage Hand Painted 'Janus' Artone Character Jugs

What are Toby jugs and Character Jugs?

What are Toby jugs and Characters Jug? It is very easy to confuse a toby jug with a character jug and vice versa, but they are different!

A toby jug/ mug depicts the full body of a figure, generally a rotund, jolly, tipsy gentleman, (occasionally a woman), usually with a tricorn hat and 18th century attire. A character jug/ mug usually shows just the head and shoulders and tend to be smaller.

Toby Jugs

Toby Jug
An Antique Toby Jug from our personal collection

Toby jugs have been around considerably longer than character jugs. They date back to at least the Mid-1700s where they were used as drinking vessels for ale in taverns and public houses.

Some people owned their own toby jug and took it to the inn with them or kept it for their sole use: at least they knew whom had been drinking out of it, as it was easily identifiable! I’m not sure they bothered much with washing up in those days…

The origin of the name Toby has been attributed to several different sources:-

  • ‘Sir Toby Belch’ in Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. An affable, but usually tipsy, character.
  • ‘Toby Fillpot (Philpot)’ a notorious 18th-century Yorkshire drinker whose real name was Henry Elwes. He was mentioned in an old English drinking song The Brown Jug, first published in 1761.
  • A ‘low Toby’: an 18th Century highwayman but without a horse!

Some of the finest early jugs were produced in the Staffordshire Potteries in England by Ralph Wood, Whieldon, Walton, and Astbury.  These jugs can command very high prices (£1000s).

Toby Jug
Ralph Wood, Burslem, Staffordshire, 1789-1801. A museum exhibit.

Through the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Toby jug became very popular and with it the style and level of characterisation increased. By the 19th and 20th centuries people began to collect Toby jugs modelled on characters from popular stories and famous characters e.g. politicians and monarchs. These were often comic caricatures, which probably didn’t go down well with the personality depicted!

Toby Jugs continued to be manufactured by the well known potteries e.g. Royal Doulton, Wedgwood, Shorter, Burleigh, and Wade amongst many others. Many of the editions produced were limited, adding to their scarcity and current value.

 

Character Jugs/ Mugs

Vintage Hand Painted 18th Century Man Kelsboro Ware Character Jug
Vintage Hand Painted 18th Century Man Kelsboro Ware Character Jug

Character jugs/ mugs were probably introduced in the 19th Century and became popular in the 20th century as souvenirs, particular the miniatures.

Many of the 20th Century art potteries produced hand painted character jugs/mugs of popular personalities e.g. Winston Churchill or for their notoriety e.g. Dick Turpin, and fictional characters too, particularly from music hall or literature e.g. Charles Dickens.

Vintage Wood's Reproduction Toby Jug
Vintage Wood’s Reproduction Toby Jug

This character mug miniature is of ‘Bill Sykes’: the nasty one from Oliver Twist who kills Oliver’s friend ‘Nancy’ and has a horrible dog called ‘Bullseye’.

Small Vintage Hand Painted Cooper Clayton Bill Sykes Character Jug
Small Vintage Hand Painted Cooper Clayton Bill Sykes Character Jug

 

The most prized collector’s jugs are Royal Doulton whom produced them from 1934 to 2011. Some of the limited editions, unique models and colour ways, and prototypes are increasing in value from approximately £20 to £100s!

At the end of the 20th Century, it was said that ‘there is no room for Toby/ Character jugs in a modern home’, however, the tide is turning and more people are starting to collect these wonderful colourful jugs as designer pieces or to brighten a dark corner of a room.

Click on the following link for our collection of Toby and Character Jugs.

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