Shaving Mug Origin

Late 19th-early 20th century. A porcelain occupational shaving mug depicting an oil derrick

p4A ItemID F7947777
Late 19th-early 20th century, porcelain occupational shaving mug depicting a lumber yard

p4A ItemID F7947770
Late 19th-early 20th century, porcelain occupational shaving mug depicting a steam engine machinist

p4A ItemID F7947769
Redware shaving mug

p4A ItemID F7944112

Occupational Shaving Mugs: a note regarding their origin.

p4A editorial staff

The origin of occupational shaving mugs, American or European, can be a bit murky. Generally they’re considered to be blank mugs imported from Germany and France and decorated in the U.S. with an American theme to please the prospective owner. In fairness to the American ceramics industry, it should be recognized that many blanks were made domestically towards the end of the 19th and into the 20th century.

Continental blanks, as with all imports, were required to be marked with the country of origin after 1890 as a result of the American Tariff Act of 1890, commonly called the McKinley Tariff Act.

Catalogue descriptions may include country of origin mark information in their descriptions and, when made available, p4A uses the catalogued origin in documenting the item even though the decoration is certainly American. When no origin or mark information is presented, the mug is entered in the data base as American. Occasionally a mug will be offered with a European origin mark and an American decorator’s mark. When this is the case, the item is documented using the decorator mark.

Mostly it’s the decoration on the mug that drives interest and the origin is of little importance to the collector. When searching for occupational shaving mugs in the p4A reference database we suggest leaving the origin blank and using the keyword field to deliver results based on occupation or theme.

Non-occupational mugs, examples being Nippon, Prussia, Redware etc., are documented with the origin of the maker or material.

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