Antique Moustache Cups
Antique Moustache Cups are moustache cups that were produced before the 1920s.
Brief history and description
The moustache cup is an unusual drinking vessel that contains a semi-circular edge around its rim. This ledge has a small opening that allows liquids to pass through and functions as a guard to keep moustaches dry. British potter Harvey Adams, born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, is generally considered to be the inventor of the moustache cup in the 1860s.
During the Victorian era, moustaches were very fashionable and were usually applied with wax and dye in order to keep the moustaches intact. Unfortunately, drinking warm drinks posed a problem for the moustachioed Victorian man. Steam emanating from the warm drink would not only melt the moustache's wax, but sipping coffee or hot tea would often lead to stained moustaches.
In order to solve this problem, Adams created a ledge that went across the cup that would prevent a well-groomed moustache from getting stained or wet. The moustache cup was very successful in the late-nineteenth century and quickly spread from England to America.
John Lennon drunk his tea from a moustache cup during the recording of The Beatles’ album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Guide to collectors of Antique Moustache Cups
Moustache cups spread all over Europe and by the 1880s were being produced by the most famous ceramic manufacturers, including Royal Crown Derby, Limorges, Imari, Royal Bayreuth and Meissen. The earliest moustache cups were made in Britain and were exported throughout the country and, because of Britain’s excellent reputation as a ceramic and porcelain producer, also found their way onto international markets, especially America. However, from the 1920s, moustaches were no longer in vogue and production of these unusual mugs began to decline along with the regularity of facial hair. Today, there is a growing community of moustache cup collectors who are attracted to the elegance of the Victorian era design and also the bizarre and unusual purpose that they serve.
Moustache cups that were produced by well-known ceramic firms are regularly sold through auction houses, such as Bonhams and Christie’s, and tend to be priced from £100 to £300. Individually sold antique moustache cups are rare at auctioneers, yet collectors are more likely to get the best value for money from purchasing a collection of moustache cups and accoutrements. Additionally, Victorian moustache cups that bear the mark of an American pottery company are extremely rare and highly sought after by collectors.
Moustache cups can occasionally be found at either antique shops or on online bidding sites, such as Yahoo and eBay. However, some of these cups are over a century old, so moustache cups bought from these establishments tend to be damaged or without their original accompanying saucer.
Notable Sales of Antique Moustache Cups
A moustache cup and saucer made by the Irish ceramic manufacturer Belleek in the late nineteenth century realised a price of £132 when it sold through Christie’s, London, in August 1993.
In March 2006, a collection of fifteen late-nineteenth century moustache cups and saucers, made by the English ceramic manufacturer Royal Crown Derby was sold for £259 at a County Sale organised by Bonhams.