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What is it Worth? The Mustache Cup


Majolica Etruscan Shell & Seaweed Mustache Cup

When ever a new problem crops up, someone will find a way to make a profit of it by providing a solution. Such is the invention of the “Mustache Cup”. During the Victorian era mustaches of all sorts flourished, being a form of male pride, with some men going to extreme lengths to grow a perfect example. The problem that cropped up was in order to maintain and shape these manly growths, it required the use of a special wax. This created a problem for men with these hairy affectations, because any cup of steaming hot cups of tea or coffee melted the wax and dripped it right into the cup and leaving the mustache a drooping mess, and the drink far from tasty or refreshing.

The solution to this problem, the “Mustache Cup”, was invented about 1860 by a  British potter named Harvey Adams (born 1835), His timely solution to this problem was quite simple, adding a the ledge with a hole in it to allowed the passage of liquids, but shielded the mustache keeping it fresh and dry. The popularity of these cups lasted until the beginning of the First World War, when clean cut military faces replaced the Walrus and handlebar mustaches that were in style through much of Victoria’s reign.

A great many Moutache cups originate from Staffordshire, England, Staffordshire  being during this time the largest production center of earthenware and ironstone pottery in the world, but cups of this type were made all over Europe, North America and even Japan. The piece shown here is an American example of  “Etruscan Majolica” . Etruscan was a brand name originally used by the pottery of Griffen, Smith and Hill, of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Circa 1879 and 1892.

Values for Mustache cups vary by maker, vintage and type, the most sought after being “Royal Commemorative” examples for Queen Victoria’s Golden (1887) and Diamond (1897) Jubilee’s and the Majolica varieties. Some rarer examples, even at auction can sell for over $400.00.  To get an appraisal for your mustache cup click here.