Brushing up on collecting Shaving Mugs


                        Shaving Mug

The shaving mug is a relatively recent phenomenon that first made its appearance in the late eighteenth century in pewter, and which usurped the barbers bowl. The increasingly wealthy and fashion conscious societies, here and abroad, promised a vast market for shaving mugs, and every household, rich and poor,became a target. The appearance of shaving mugs, in this country,
coincided with the establishment of the glass and porcelain industries and they were produced in large numbers, in these and other materials, at a price to suit every purse.


                      Shaving Mug

The most common shapes were the divided mugs and scuttles, which were thoughtfully designed with pleasing features, like tops that could be reversed to act as soap holders, and sockets that held the brush in the soap. Silversmiths created superb shaving mugs that mirrored the styles of the time, whilst displaying practical features like a domed base to ensure   that the hot water did not mark the mahogany table top. No design stone was left unturned by the big name manufacturers who made shaving mugs for their wealthy clientele and there are fine examples of Royal Doulton, Royal Worcester, Coalport, Lennex and Noritake mugs.


                      Shaving Mug

As the nineteenth century progressed shaving mugs were seen as an opportunity to amuse and a sensational range of character mugs were produced from ladies to pigs! Animals were particularly represented and every living creature was endearingly captured on a mug. There are delightful examples of fish, monkeys and dogs but the animal that became particularly popular was the regal swan, which was shown in various graceful poses. The creme-de-la-creme of character shaving mugs are Shafer and Vater examples which were produced between 1880 and 1915 of which the owl and matching brush is the most prized. There are only three known, and a wise collector would not give a hoot about parting with $3000-$4000

             Shaving Mug


Shaving mugs were perceived as powerful persuaders, and in 1877 the Yankee Shaving Soap Company produced a giveaway two-piece mug to launch their latest soap. This idea was taken a step further by presidential candidate Garfield, who gave shaving mugs to men who promised their vote: he won the election but it was a close shave. In 1920 the revolutionary shaving soap stick was introduced by Colgate and advertised by a man throwing away his shaving mug. This caused a five o'clock shadow to hang over the future of the industry, as it was the beginning of the end for shaving mugs.

                    Shaving Mug


 The shaving mug world is small, but international and bristling with activity. There are a number of inexpensive twentieth century mugs that can change hands for under $50 though many simple ones will fetch more, and yo a handful, reputedly for her friends, and her versions are easy to spot, though hard to value as so few come up for sale.


                    Shaving Mug

One of the most popular areas of (collecting are the American 'Occupational mugs' which were created as blanks that were exported to the USA and sold to professional men by their barber,
to be appropriately decorated and left in his shop to advertise their business. The most common of these mugs is the 'Butcher' which is valued at $300, though a more unusual exampi the 'Plumber' would cost $1200-$15000. Just recently a very rare occupational mug depicting a 'Lunch Wagon Operator' was sold in the USA for $45000. It merely confirms that there is no such thing as a free 'Lunch Wagon Operator'.

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