I Did It My Way

Steve Mullins, the founder of the American Toby Jug Museum, died on June 2. His museum in Evanston, IL will carry on his remarkable legacy inspiring fellow collectors and designers across the globe. Tributes have arrived from around the world including Fée Halsted, the founder of Ardmore, whose museum visit resulted in her signature collection of animal jugs made at her studio in South Africa.

Steve was a lifelong collector of character and toby jugs, beginning at age 15 with the purchase of six Royal Doulton jugs. In 1993, he established the American Toby Jug Museum to house his collection. The not-for-profit museum now features more than 8,500 jugs spanning 250 years of production from more than 200 potteries and 35 countries around the world.

Steve is also renowned for his comprehensive books on toby jugs, including the history of Royal Doulton character jugs with Louise Irvine. He was a guest lecturer at several conferences at WMODA in the early years and shared his passion for toby jugs during his travels around the world. At his funeral, Steve’s ashes were carried out by his grandchildren and other family members in His Toby Jug modeled in his image, which had been set out at the altar, to the tune of “I did it my way”.

A joyful celebration of a full life was held the following day at his museum and tributes poured in from those he touched. Fée Halsted remembered her visit to the museum in 2010, when she studied the extensive collection of French Majolica jugs, the subject of another of Steve’s books. A zebra jug on display inspired her signature collection of Ardmore animal jugs, which grew bigger and bigger over the years, as can be seen at WMODA.

Always the collector, Steve acquired several of the Ardmore jugs for his museum. Read more about Steve Mullins, his remarkable collection, and the American Toby Jug Museum in the Good Sir Toby Highlights article.