Old Bill character jug in a white colorway produced by A. J. Wilkinson of Burslem, England, circa 1915. Old Bill is a fictional character created in 1914-15 by cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather. Old Bill was depicted as an elderly, pipe-smoking British "tommy" with a walrus moustache. The character achieved a great deal of popularity during World War I where it was considered a major morale booster for the British troops. Old Bill and his younger troopmate little Alphie were private infantrymen in the British Expeditionary Force. Many claims have been put forth as being the model for "Old Bill" but the most likely appears to be Thomas Henry Rafferty, a lance corporal from Birmingham in Bairnsfather's regiment, the Royal Warwickshires, who was killed in the same action that invalided Bairnsfather in April 1915. Rafferty was featured in the Weekly Dispatch in 1917, referred to as "Old Bill," along with a photograph taken by Bairnsfather. This jug has the saying "Who told ye that one?" around the back and a rifle as its handle.
A. J. Wilkinson