A leisurely afternoon recently spent in Faribault, Minnesota unearthed a new treasure that I was unfamiliar with: The Shaving Mug. We were exploring every nook and cranny of the Nook and Cranny when I came across what appeared to be an ingenious teacup:
I was slightly confused by the cup’s decoration because a historic fire truck image seemed to be an odd choice for a teacup, but I still liked it and went to make my purchase:
Making small talk while checking out, I mentioned how excited I was about my new teacup. The woman looked at me quizzically and said, “The what?” I pointed at my new find. She said, “Well, that’s a really interesting way of using that. I think it is actually a mustache cup.” Color me surprised. A what?
Later research revealed that during the Victorian period (the 1800s), drinking hot beverages was a liability for men with waxed mustaches. When the hot cup was held to their lips, their mustache wax would melt and would run into their cups. An ingenious inventor crafted the Moustache Cup to solve this problem. By adding a little ledge to the top of the cup, the mustachioed drinker could sip to his heart’s content with no worries about his well-coiffed ‘stache:
I quickly learned from this research that what I had was not a moustache cup but was actually a shaving mug. During the years when straight razors were used for shaving, most men owned shaving mugs. Because many men were typically shaved at a barber shop, they would leave their mugs there. In order to make their mug easily identifiable from the other mugs in the barber shop, they quickly became personalized; the period between 1880 and 1920 became the peak for what are considered “occupational shaving mugs.” Some men had hand-customized shaving mugs imported from France and Germany that they purchased through their barbers, but others took advantage of the generic styles that could be purchased through local stores or the Sears catalog.
Knowing more about this history makes me enjoy my cup even more.
You can learn more about the history of shaving mugs from Sharpologist.