1880 John Sowerby Vitro Porcelain Glass Toby Jug Dog, Newcastle Durham

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#AD110: Sowerby Spaniel Dog Toby Jug


This is a lovely small figural small vitro glass dog toby jug or milk pitcher. It is a very wonderful creamy off white colour and in beautiful condition. He is unmarked. He wears a hand tied ribbon around his neck, and his open mouth is the milk spout. This rendition of a spaniel dog is a common one in early English pottery toby mugs, paintings, and illustrative folk art. He can sometimes be seen wearing a crown as royalty in British art.

Gateshead, England sits on the River Tyne, opposite Newcastle upon Tyne, in the Tyne and Wear area, early Durham County. This was a major shipbuilding and industrial hub during the second half of the 19th century. It is here, in 1877, that John George Sowerby invented what he called "Vitro Porcelain" (or Vitroporcelain, Vitroporcelaine.) It was a pressed Victorian glass made to resemble fine pottery or porcelain.

John G. Sowerby 1849-1914 was an accomplished artist painter, children's book illustrator, and then businessman in pressed glass. His highly successful company, Ellison Glass Works, was a Sowerby family business. It produced more glass than any other company in the entire world at that time.

His "vitro glass" is somewhat similar in appearance to and is often called milk glass, although not chemically the same. It has been called such names as "cast porcelain", "cryolite glass" and "gateshead glass", produced in various colours such as a pale pink orange, yellow, turquoise, pale green, a cream as seen here, and a purer white. You will often see early coloured vitro Victorian baskets and ribbon plates from that time period. It can be found both marked with the Sowerby peacock on reverse, or unmarked, such as this.

This old cream or milk jug was found in Kingsbridge, Devon, England and measures 4 inches high by 4 inches wide, with handle. Click images to see the condition in very close up and movable views. He has some black specks that can be seen from the original pressing, as in gateshead pottery factory soot, which we feel adds to the 19th c. maker's charm.

Dogs were highly prized in Victorian times, with Queen Victoria having many in her long life. Her most famous dog was "Dash" 1830–1840, a King Charles Spaniel, as this little figural dog jug resembles. This is a beautiful old original Victorian glass piece.

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Size: 4 inches high x 4 inches wide

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