Character Jug Price Guide, Doulton Character Jugs

Old Charley Character Jug information and price guide

The Royal Doulton Old Charley character jug series is a vivid portrayal of an iconic figure from England’s past, the night watchman, or “Charlie,” who patrolled the streets during the reign of Charles II. These jugs, crafted under the masterful eye of designer Charles Noke, debuted in the 1930s and continued to capture the imagination of collectors until their discontinuation in the early 1980s. In this Old Charley Character Jug information and price guide we look at the background of jug and some realised prices at auction.

Old Charley Character Jug in three sizes
Old Charley Character Jugs in three sizes Large, Medium and Small. This set sold with a set of three Siarey Gamp jugs for $60 at Golden Sun Auctions, February 2021.

Old Charley came to life in four main variations, each depicting the cheerful face of an aged watchman adorned with a brown hat, a dark green coat, and a distinctive blue polka-dot bow tie. As with many of the earlier character jugs the handle is just a simple curver. The large version (D5420) stands at 5.5 inches and was first issued in 1934, the small (D5527) at 3.25 inches launched a year later in 1935, the mini (D6046) at 2.25 inches introduced in 1939, and the tiny (D6144), part of the Tinies series at just 1.25 inches, started in 1940. The Tiny version was withdrawn in 1960, the other three sizes were withdrawn in 1983.

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These jugs not only reflect the craftsmanship and artistic expression synonymous with Royal Doulton but also serve as a historical ledger recording the evolution of public order in London. The character of Old Charley is inspired by the “Charlies,” watchmen who were an essential part of London’s night-time public safety during the 1600s and 1700s. Named affectionately after the king, they were known for their cries of “Ten o’clock and all’s well,” a reassurance to the citizens that all was secure under the watchful eyes of these guardians. This role was phased out with the establishment of a more formal police force in the early 19th century.

Royal Doulton Old Charley Character Jug Large Version
Royal Doulton Old Charley Character Jug Large Version. This example sold for £15 on ebay, April 2024.

Charles Noke’s vision in immortalizing the Charlies into these jugs was a blend of historical homage and artistic innovation. The Old Charley jugs, with their expressive faces and detailed attire, are more than just porcelain figures; they are relics of a bygone era, embodying the spirit and the story of London’s early night watchmen.

Old Charley Price Guide
In the current market, at most auction houses, the value of  Old Charley (apart from some variations) are not worth enough to be sold individually.

D5420 Large version £10-£20
D5527 Small version £5-£10
D6046 Miniature version £5-£10
D6144 Tiny version £5-£15

Old Charley Variations

Old Charley is one of those characters that has been adapted for many Doulton items and a number of variations can be seen. These include Musical version, Lighter version, and retailer versions. He has also been re-introduced in various limited editions. These are quite numerous so we will dedicate a feature on Old Charley variations in due course.

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