Stoke-on-Trent: Copeland Spode, 1941. While “Toby Jug” likenesses of Winston Churchill are ubiquitous, this particular example is a far less common example than typically seen. Large, this Toby measures 8.5 inches (21.6 cm) tall and 5 x 4.25 inches (12.7 x 10.8 cm) at the base. This particular Toby design “was produced… to commemorate the Atlantic Charter.” There were both colored and plain white versions. Colored versions were made for export “mainly to the U.S. and Canada” while “a plain white version was made for distribution in the UK”. (Hall, p.164) The latter is offered here.
Churchill’s image would hardly have required color embellishment in Great Britain in 1941. By 1941, Churchill's image and persona had already become iconic. Both to commemorate the Atlantic Charter, and of course to capitalize upon Churchill's unmistakable image, Copeland Spode produced wartime images of Churchill. Lest there be any doubt about the subject, Churchill’s unmistakable countenance – doughty and sternly cherubic – is framed by hat and bowtie, a cigar in his mouth and his signet ring on the third finger of his right hand. This white Toby Jug is in very good condition. The jug is complete, with no chips or cracks observed, and no discernible crazing. Condition would be “fine” if not for freckling, most prominently to Churchill’s hat.
The Atlantic Charter, commemorated by this bit of early wartime Churchilliana, may have seemed ancillary to the exigencies of wartime Britain in 1941, but proved a potent symbol with enduring impact.
In August 1941, British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill braved the Battle of the Atlantic to voyage by warship to Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, where he secretly met with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Their agenda included setting constructive goals for the post-war world, even as the struggle against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was still very much undecided and the U.S. had yet to formally enter the war. The eight principles to which they agreed became known as the Atlantic Charter. “That it had little legal validity did not detract from its value… Coming from the two great democratic leaders of the day… the Atlantic Charter created a profound impression on the embattled Allies… a message of hope… and… the promise of a world organization based on the enduring verities of international morality.” (UN) In addition to encapsulating the Allies’ postwar aspirations and catalyzing formation of the United Nations, the Atlantic Charter testified to the remarkable personal relationship between FDR and Churchill.
“Support for the principles of the Atlantic Charter… came from a meeting of ten governments in London shortly after Mr. Churchill returned from his ocean rendezvous. This declaration was signed on September 24 by the USSR and the nine governments of occupied Europe: Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and by the representatives of General de Gaulle, of France.” Nonetheless, Atlantic Charter principles were remote from the realities of war in August 1941. Even after Newfoundland, to Churchill’s frustration, America had still “made no commitments and was no nearer to war than before the ship board meeting.” (Gilbert, VI, p.1176) In his live broadcast from Chequers on August 24, Churchill modestly introduced the Atlantic Charter thus: “…a simple, rough-and-ready war-time statement of the goal towards which the British Commonwealth and the United States mean to make their way…” Not until December 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, did America formally enter the war and not until October 1945 was the United Nations established, embodying the lofty principles of the Atlantic Charter. Even then, the Cold War was already nascent, ensuring that a geo-political reality based on those noble principles would remain as remote as it was in Placentia Bay in August 1941. As it remains today. Item #007001