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Part of the fun of estate sale-ing is finding all of the different things people collect.  We’ve seen toaster collections, owl collections, acid-wash denim collections – everyone has their thing.  One of the most interesting collections we’ve come across was a house where the lady had a large collection of moustache cups and matching saucers.  We couldn’t resist buying several of the collections’ best, and are now making them available to you!  20% of each moustache cup sale will be donated Movember – an initiative that crops up men’s faces and every November. Movember is an organization that raises hair awareness and funds for men’s health initiatives, specifically prostate and testicular cancer.  Check out our Etsy store to participate or if you want to donate to Movember, click here.

What is a moustache cup you ask?

“The moustache cup is a drinking cup with a semicircular ledge inside invented in the 1860s by British potter Harvey Adams. The ledge has a half moon-shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids and serves as a guard to keep moustaches dry.

Moustaches flourished throughout the Victorian era. Men often applied great gobs of melted wax to the moustache to keep it nice and stiff, with every hair in place.

When steaming hot cups of tea or coffee were carried up to the mouth for sipping: the steam melted the wax and sent it right into the cup! Sipping hot tea or coffee, moustaches also often became stained.  Thanks to the invention of the moustache cup, the pampered moustache had a safe place to rest and dry on the guard while sipping a hot beverage through the opening. [bold added]

The new invention spread all over the European continent and soon, every famous potter was making the new cups. A multiplicity of moustache cups were made by famous manufactories such as Meissen, Royal Crown Derby, Imari, Royal Bayreuth, Limoges and others. Each potter created his own version of this masculine tableware and the news of that invention soon spread to America.

Although many moustache cups were made in America,  due to the popularity of English-made ceramics, the earliest were marked with names which led buyers to believe they were actually manufactured in England. Therefore, with the exception of the quadruple silver moustache cups made in the U.S., it is nowadays extremely difficult to find an authentic Victorian moustache cup bearing an American pottery mark. Moreover, between 1920 and 1930, moustaches progressively began to go out of fashion and hence moustache cup production trickled down along with the  dwindling numbers of the once-popular hirsute appendages. These examples of Victorian male elegance are becoming coveted and collected by a growing number of enthusiasts.

Some fun moustache cup trivia:

  • During and throughout the recording sessions of The Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, John Lennon is reported to have drunk his tea from a moustache cup!
  • In James Joyce’s Ulysses, Leopold Bloom drinks his tea from a moustache cup he received from his daughter Milly for his 27th birthday.” source

Whether you plan on using your moustache cup to keep your well groomed facial hair dry, keep the goo out of your tea, or as a trophy to the best grower you know – we hope you enjoy!

~Emily & Lainey

Post Script: A note about moustache vs. mustache:
Mustache is the U.S. spelling of the word referring to hair on the upper lip. Moustache is the preferred spelling in all major varieties of English other than American English. Mustachio was originally a variant of mustache, but it now usually refers to an especially luxuriant mustache. The past-participle adjectives corresponding to these words are mustached, moustached, and mustachioed.” source