Originally invented as a handy jug with which drinkers could add a little water to their whiskey, whiskey jugs quickly became a widespread marketing tool – with many different shapes and sizes of jugs labelled with the names and logos of a variety of distilleries.
With this guide, buyers will be able to see the vast range of collectable whiskey jugs on offer, as well as understand how to buy the perfect jug for the ideal price on eBay, the site with the widest market online.
Whiskey Jug Type
There are different types of collectable whiskey jug, with many variations in design and style. The various types of jugs available appeal to different collectors. For example, some collect them for their assorted shapes, and others seek out ones of historical significance. Some are even bought as interest pieces by buyers who have no intention of starting a collection. The main types of whiskey jug are:
Water jugs are the typical kind of whiskey jug the buyer will encounter, with the many makes available varying in shape, size and design. These look the most like regular jugs, and often have the logo of a distillery, as well as a picture painted on.
Character jugs are popular collector items – the jugs are created in the shape of a person or animal, most often in ceramic china. There are many different kinds of character jugs available, where the Toby jug is the most well-known.
Whiskey Jug Materials
When buying a collectable whiskey jug, the buyer may wish to consider whether they would like to collect jugs by material, as many collectors do. Whiskey jugs are typically made from ceramic or stoneware, and designs vary depending on what the material is capable of being shaped into. The main types of whiskey jug material are:
Ceramic jugs like china and porcelain are popular materials for more modern whiskey jugs, and can be made into a variety of shapes and sizes as well as colours. Ceramic whiskey jugs are typically brightly coloured and painted, and may have complex logos, pictures or designs printed on.
Stoneware is a more traditional way to make whiskey jugs, and they usually are made in roughly the same uniform shape – with a large bottom, a small handle at the top and a small neck, which gives the stoneware jug a stumpy look. Stoneware jugs typically come in more natural colours than ceramic jugs, and natural stone-coloured jugs with a darker neck with blue painted designs are a common sight.
Collecting Whiskey Jugs
When the buyer wishes to begin collecting whiskey jugs, they should consider ‘how’ they wish to begin collecting. Some collectors take an unorganised, impulsive approach to collecting – picking up what appeals to them – whereas other collectors prefer to select jugs by their own system. Some of the typical collection methods are:
Collecting jugs by type is a popular method, with some buyers focusing entirely on a particular section of whiskey jugs. Character jugs are popular collector’s items, with some buyers focusing entirely on the human-shaped jugs that look similar to Toby jugs. With the extensive range of water jugs available, many collectors choose to focus on these for the wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours that can be found.
With stoneware and ceramic items available, some buyers may wish to choose what jugs to collect based on its material – this can be an important factor as often the materials determine the shape, design and colour of the jugs. The traditional brown, handled stoneware jugs make popular decoration pieces and are often used to decorate traditional pubs, as well as houses. Ceramic jugs tend to be smaller and lighter and may well be a more ideal collection for those with limited space for items.
With the long history of whiskey, it is no surprise that many collectable whiskey jugs have a personal history just as long. Whiskey jugs are often of great interest to those with an interest in the history of brewing and distilling as well as general history as whiskey jugs often reflect the period they were made in, in terms of colour, shape and design. Many collectors buy antique whiskey jugs according to period, though antique pieces will be more costly than more recent items.
Whiskey distilleries are more prevalent than ever, and most have created their own whiskey jugs to accompany their whiskey. There are many designs and variations that have appeared over the years, and many collectors devote their time to finding and buying the many varieties of jugs that from particular distilleries. Large distilleries such as Bells have created many jugs over their long history, and these are not only of interest to collectors as brand items, but also as historical pieces.
Some collectors enjoy a very particular form of collecting by origin, with collections being created according to the location of the distillery. Popular origins are by country – such as Scotch whiskey and Irish whiskey – and even more specific origins such as Highland versus Lowland distilleries. Regional and international jugs have many variations and can be incredibly different, making for a very interesting collection.
Special editions of jugs are often produced to mark important dates and events in history both national and relating to the brand – such as 25th Anniversary jugs. Commemorative jugs are quite popular items, created to celebrate events such as Jubilees and Coronations, and are of interest to collectors not just as special editions, but also as historical pieces.
Whiskey Jug Brands
Collectable whiskey jugs tend to be made by the whiskey distilleries themselves, to accompany their bottles and also to act as advertising for their products. There have been many variations in designs of jugs made by distillery brands, and many collectors purchase whiskey jugs by brand, as a form of documentation of their history. The most prominent whiskey jug-making brands are:
Johnnie Walker is a Scotch whiskey popular around the world, and it has produced many whiskey jugs to accompany its various labels such as the high-quality Black Label whiskey.
Royal Doulton is not a whiskey distillery, but is actually a well-known pottery company. Royal Doulton produces jugs under its own name as well as brand items for distilleries, including highly collectable examples of character jugs.
Bell’s is another well-known Scotch whiskey, and it produces many different varieties of whiskey jug to accompany their whiskey. Most popular is their distinctive bell-shaped jug/decanter, along with their tall ceramic jugs.
Buying Collectable Whiskey Jugs on eBay
There are many different ways to collect jugs, from brand or age to origin, and when the buyer has decided on the type of jug they wish to purchase they need to begin searching. When searching for collectable whiskey jugs on eBay, the buyer should keep in mind:
- Price – the cost of any item is often the most important factor in any search, and whiskey jugs may vary in price from extremely affordable to very costly depending on type, scarcity and age. Buyers can use the search preferences to adjust the results to match their budget, and with jugs available at both ‘Auction’ and ‘Buy It Now’, there is a great deal of flexibility when purchasing.
- Type – with the two main types of whiskey jug widely available on eBay at prices to suit every budget, the buyer should consider what type they would like to start collecting, as this will help guide their search. They can indicate any preference they may have through the search bar.
- Material – the materials of whiskey jugs are often a deciding aspect of a beginning collection, with many buyers expressing a preference either for the varied, bright, colourful appeal of ceramic items or the traditional look of stoneware jugs. If the buyer has settled on a particular material they should indicate their choice in the search bar to narrow down results.
- Edition – if purchasing a special or limited edition of a jug, the buyer should keep in mind that these will likely be more costly than regular whiskey jugs due to the generally small runs and therefore their scarcity. This is a particular case for older editions and commemorative jugs, which also have the added value of being a period piece.
- Local Seller – purchasing collectable whiskey jugs from local sellers is an ideal way to keep shipping prices down.
- Should the buyer need any more guidance on searching eBay, they should make sure to check eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on how to get the perfect search result. If the buyer has any questions about any of the whiskey jugs they see listed, they should not hesitate to ask the seller.
Whiskey jugs are collected by many people for a variety of reasons – an interest in whiskey, an interest in history, even an interest in design. Whiskey jugs not only advertise their distillery, but also act as milestones for important events and changes in design and trends. With this guide buyers should be able to start off their whiskey jug collection by finding the perfect jug for the ideal price.