Most of the figural toothbrush holders found in markets today date from the 1920’s to 1950’s. However, the roots of these objects date back to the 1800’s.
Figural toothbrush holders are found in many materials such as ceramics (porcelain, bisque, ironstone), plastics, glass, and metals. a few subject areas that they cover are cartoon characters (ie. The Three Pigs), professions (ie. firefighters), nursery rhymes, animals, and children.
Sometimes the toothbrush becomes part of the design such as the tail of a dog. Some are open at the top. Some have slots to hold the brushes. There usually is a spot to clean them out near the base. Some have a spot to hold a small tube of toothpaste. Most date back to the era when toothpaste came in a metal tube unlike the plastic ones today.
The purpose in part was decorative but also a stimulator for children’s brushing habits.
A majority of the ones surviving are ceramic. The plastic and metal ones tended to crack or rust. Most of these were made in Germany, Japan, England and U.S.A.
A few examples can be found here Tooth Brush Holders