For 59-year-old adman Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Mogae Media, his collection of Toby mugs is a prized possession. A Toby mug, or jug, is a figural ceramic pitcher modelled in the form of a popular character—historical, fictional or generic. “Toby mugs are the original form of what we today call ‘merchandise’. They were born primarily as an extension of theatre,” says Goyal, who has around 350 of them in his office collected over a couple of decades on trips abroad.
It all started in the late 1990s when he saw and liked the collection of a friend’s father in the UK. “He had 49 of them then, each one gifted by his wife on their anniversary. He told me he would will them to me,” recalls Goyal. Sure enough, a couple of years later, he found himself in possession of 51 mugs. “I was taken aback by the gesture. It seemed like divine intervention,” says Goyal, who then started collecting them.
Today, the 51 bequeathed ones are kept in his house in Mumbai, while the 350-odd that he has collected are in his office. “They are difficult to come by. I generally search for them in pawn shops and antique stores abroad.” Till a few years ago, Goyal would pick up three-four mugs on every trip. Prices vary from a few British pounds to £200-300. “If I was to sell mine, I would get a neat packet.”
Goyal’s collection is so large that he sometimes makes the mistake of buying one he already has. But he has also lost around 4050 mugs. “They are fragile. Every time one breaks in transit, my mood is spoilt,” says Goyal, who acquired the ad agency Rediffusion in May 2021.
Owner of one of the largest collections of Toby mugs in the country, Goyal admits that taking care of them is not easy. “But I have them in my office, and the collection serves as a great ice-breaker. More importantly, I see them every day and they make me happy.”
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