Gaoler character jug modeled by David B. Biggs and produced by Royal Doulton of Burslem, England, between 1963-1983. Gaoler is someone who guards prisoners or keeps a jail. Imprisonment was a relatively new concept in the era of eighteenth century Williamsburg. Before the 1700s, governments seldom punished criminals by imprisoning them. Common penalties included fines and such punishments as branding and flogging, as well as the death penalty for many crimes. Early prisons were dark, filthy and overcrowded, but by the late 1700s, reforms were adopted in much of colonial America. These were based upon the salutary effect of hard work and the threat of solitary confinement which, it was hoped, would inspire prisoners to repent of their crimes. Whereas gaolers of an earlier day were often merciless in the treatment of prisoners under their charge, the looks of this pleasant character suggests detainees in Colonial Williamsburg were beneficiaries of these enlightened approaches. Two large keys form the handle of the jug. The Gaoler character jug was made in three sizes with this being the largest along with small (D6577) and miniature (D6584) sizes.
Characters from Williamsburg Collection