Toby mug collectors can locate these highly sought-after items by visiting antique dealers, auctions and estate sales that feature ceramics. Alternatively, Toby mug enthusiasts can track down inventory across the globe by connecting with dealers and fellow collectors via Internet sites such as tobyjugcollecting.com or eBay.
Toby mugs are easy to identify based on their characteristic features. These figural ceramic pieces depict the full bodies of characters, in contrast to character mugs that feature only the head or face of the subject, according to American Toby Jug Museum. The figures on Toby mugs may be human, often representing historical or fictional characters, or animals. Characters from Shakespeare and Dickens are commonly found on Toby mugs manufactured during the Victorian period.
Toby mugs and jugs date back to the early 18th century, reports World Collectors Net. Jugs from this period, as well as later reproductions, frequently depict a fat, jolly looking man, either seated or standing, dressed in a tricorn hat, breeches and frock coat. Early Toby mugs tend to be elusive and fetch a high price.
Toby mugs and jugs were originally used as drinking and pouring implements in taverns. Collectors can distinguish between Toby mugs and jugs by examining the rim of the vessels. Jugs have a pouring spout while mugs do not.
Toby mugs experienced a resurgence in popularity during the 19th century. The mugs were mass produced during the period by numerous manufacturers, so affordable Victorian-era Toby mugs turn up frequently at antique sales.