Many years ago when my Father was alive, he and my Mother used to collect what are known as Royal Doulton Character Jugs, which they just called Toby Jugs. They had started collecting these when they were stationed in Panama during WWII and slowly the collection had grown like bunnies and they had over 300 by the late 1980’s. They had a plate rail all along the upper wall of the living room and dining room in their home where they displayed these and other objects they had collected. Obviously the plate rail held only so many and my parents kept the rest in a storage room in the basement. Gary and I lived out in New England for 17 years and when we came home for Christmas, one of my tasks became taking last year’s Tobies down, packing them into the storage room and putting up the ones my Father wanted to display for the coming year.
He never seemed to put away one of them, called the Fortune Teller, only asking me to dust it. Well, that was ok since it was my favorite: it looked like my Mother. I asked him once why he never put that one away.
‘Oh’, he said, ‘That’s my favorite.’
‘Why?’ I pursued.
‘Because it looks like your Mother.’
Now, below I’ve put a picture of my Mother when she had a pretty severe pixie haircut, a style popular in the 60’s. Luckily, she didn’t always look like that. I’ve also put a later picture of her here with a softer hair style. However, the Fortune Teller, with its black hair in a pixie haircut reminded both my Father and me of my Mother in the 60’s.
Now, here is a picture of the Fortune Teller. See the resemblance? What a kindly, understanding face. Well, it’s not a complete likeness but both my Father and thought so.
Time has past, both my parents have died and I now have the Toby Jug collection. Gary and I sold all but 71 of them several years ago before we moved into our current home. We obviously kept some of our favorites, the Fortune Teller first among them. Now, it is time to sell the rest and I verified the list that Gary had put together when we sold the previous batch and sent it off to several dealers for bids. I kept the Fortune Teller aside - we’re still keeping that one.
As I was looking dealer websites to see to whom I should e-mail the list, what should I see but this. And, check that price, $439.95. Of course, that’s the sell price, way above the buy price. And, certainly, that’s the most expensive one in the lot. Personally, I’d be happy to get that for the whole lot of 70.
And, while I’m on the story of my mother, I have a funny story. When my Mother died, we had her cremated and, during the process, the funeral director asked my brother, Jack, and me if we would like a small token urn with a small amount of her ashes. Well, after a bit of thought, we both said yes and you can see my small token urn on the top shelf of a bookcase we have on the lower level of our home. Note that she is surrounded by some of the pieces in her beloved Toby Jugs collection. How appropriate.
But, here’s the funny story. In 2008, we headed south for our first year of snowbirding and were in Corpus Christi in January of 2009 at the local aquarium. Here we received a call from Cathy and Tom, my sister and brother-in-law, telling us that a pipe had burst in our lower level and that water had gotten all over the floor. They had scrambled around and removed most of what we had down there to other areas of the house, had boxed lots of it and had gotten a company to come in to take care of the mess. We hurried home, found not much to do and headed on back to Texas, figuring we’d take care of it when we got back in May.
In May, we were back and sorting through all of our things. All of a sudden I had a horrible thought: where is the small token urn with my Mother in it? Holy Toledo, where’s my Mother? We scrambled through all the boxes, through all the stuff that Cathy and Tom had taken upstairs and finally found the urn all nicely packed away in the bottom of one of the boxes. Cathy and Tom, of course, had no idea that they had stowed the urn and we all had a good laugh when we told them.
So, what’s your Mother worth? Mine is worth $439.95 and I’ve got the ad from Amazon to prove it. You know I’m kidding here, my mother meant the world to me but, by the time I was ready to tell her, she had Alzheimer’s and didn’t even know who I was. I was too late.