Punch and Judy puppet shows have been an English tradition since the 17th century and are based on even earlier Italian stories. The show's often violent but comic plays became enormously popular even in Paris and Washington, where America's first president enjoyed a performance. The main cast of characters includes Mr. Punch and his wife Judy, their Baby, a Constable, a Doctor, Joey the Clown, a Skeleton, and even a hungry Crocodile. The main story line consists of Mr. Punch using his "slapstick" to teach his tormentors (including his wife) an often fatal, though hilarious lesson.
The famous Punch character traditionally is depicted hunchbacked, with a long, curved nose that reaches nearly to his chin. His exaggerated expression is usually wild-eyed with a malicious, self-satisfied smile. The expression, "pleased as punch" is directly derived from Punch and Judy. Mr. Punch's costume is that of a jester, with a brightly colored jacket and a sugar-loaf hat.
This Victorian Staffordshire pottery representation of Punch is a toned-down, but still striking version of this famous character. While the face is not as exaggerated as the puppet character, it continues with his distorted proportions with a large nose, wide-set eyes, a big pointy chin, a big belly, and of course, a great smile that is more charming than evil. For a medium-sized object it certainly packs a lot of "punch."
The green jester hat is widely scalloped with a yellow edging to match the green garters on his legs. The jester costume has been created with wide bands of burnt sienna, followed by thin bands of gold, and set in between wide stripes of white. The jester collar has been recreated by points that are edged in gold leaf with raised tassels on each point. Although simple, the costume is quite effective and goes a long way to portray this iconic figure.
The whole jug has a soft blue glaze which points out its Victorian manufacture. Most early- to mid-Victorian Staffordshire figures were dipped in a cobalt blue glaze to protect the paint as well as to give a nice glow to the finished product. This piece has a very thick blue glaze that has nicely coagulated in the crevices.
This rare Toby jug, circa 1850, is in superb condition. The colors are as bright and well-defined as they were when it was originally painted in the factory. There are no chips or cracks. It has escaped all but very minor crazing around the collar. There is a minute loss of paint in one knee and where a finger would have laid against the back of the jug while holding the handle with one's thumb. These are extremely minor issues and do not affect its value or one's enjoyment of the piece.
It is a beautiful example of antique pottery and would be a strong decorative element in any place in your home. If you will forgive me, I am sure you would be pleased as Punch to own it.
The jug is 9-3/4" high and 8" wide from knees to handle. He weighs in at just over 3 pounds!
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