By all accounts the late David Pickwell, Professor of Optometry at the University of Bradford, and President of the British Optical Association from 1972-73, was a much loved character but his personal passion was collecting bespectacled character jugs. These have been bequeathed to the BOA Museum where they have certainly been turning heads since their arrival. Not all are especially antique; the item pictured is a Royal Doulton product from 1995 produced as an exclusive model for the International Collectors' Club. As a collection, however, they represent an attractive bit of ophthalmic fun collected from antique fairs, flea markets and car boot sales by an enthusiastic individual with an 'eye' for the unusual.
They include examples of the potters' best art from Artone, Burgess, Dorling and Leigh, Cooper Clayton, Doulton, John Beswick Ltd, Lancaster & Sandland and Wood and Sons. Most are small jugs and one is a tiny teapot complete with a hat for a lid. Many depict the Charles Dickens characters Mr Pickwick or Bill Sykes. In this example we have both Mr Pickwick (wearing the gold spectacles) and Sam Weller, forming the jug handle. Only a few are rightly called 'Toby' jugs since a Toby Jug must represent the whole figure, not just head and shoulders.