EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 271 - September 26, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 7

Collector's Corner: Shaving Mugs

By Michele Alice

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You've probably not paid much attention to the myriad mugs that appear at most estate, yard, and rummage sales, but you could be making a mistake. Mixed in with the similar-looking coffee mugs could be a Hull-made Old Spice shaving mug worth $10. Or a Limoges shaving mug worth $50. Or an R. S. Prussia mug valued at over $200!

Before the introduction of the Gillette safety razor in 1903, most men either used a straight razor with a shaving mug and brush at home, or they went to a barber who utilized the same implements. By the 1930s, straight razors at home were pretty much delegated to junk drawers, and fewer men were visiting barber shops for shaves, but the shaving mug and brush held on until the introduction of aerosol shave creams in the 1950s.

Shaving mugs fall into two main categories: standard mugs that most resemble coffee mugs or, in some cases, large tea cups, and scuttle mugs that look rather like small coal scuttles. Regular shaving mugs will often have interior ridges to keep bar soaps from spinning and sometimes an elevated brush rest so that the bristles don't sit in the bottom of the bowl. Scuttle mugs, on the other hand, are designed so that the bar of soap is placed in an upper section near the handle while the brush rests in the "spout" section below.

Prices of vintage mugs are dependant upon a number of factors. Most mugs are made of porcelain or glass, and chips, cracks, and scratches will severely impact values, while sterling mugs are somewhat dependent upon the current price of silver. Manufacturer and rarity also come into play, but perhaps nothing has as great an impact on price as the graphic design.

Generically decorated (flowers, animals, etc.), advertising, and souvenir mugs generally fetch prices in the $10 to $100 range, though some have gone for as high as $200 or so. Depending upon rarity, mugs depicting fraternal organizations like the Elks or Masons can sell for anywhere from $10 up to $1000. But occupational mugs with scenes depicting professionals and laborers at work - bankers, lawyers, plumbers, carpenters - are the crown jewels of collections with online prices up to $4000!

Vintage shaving soaps and brushes also have value to collectors. Brushes, especially those with Bakelite handles, often fetch between $10 and $50 in the secondary markets.

Interested in learning more about collectible shaving mugs? Check out the resources listed below, and

Happy Hunting!

Books

Barbershop: History and Antiques (A Schiffer Book for Collectors)

The Best of Shaving Mugs (Schiffer Book for Collectors)

The Shaving Mug & Barber Bottle Book: With Value Guide

Websites

National Shaving Mug Collectors Association (NSMCA) - link - THE site to go to for information on shaving mugs and other barberiana.

Old Spice Collectibles - link - Site is devoted to Old Spice shaving mugs and other Shulton Inc. items sold from 1938 to 1993.

Poucher's Perfumes, Cosmetics, and Soaps, by Hilda Butler, William Arthur Poucher - link - Online book has section on shaving soaps and lotions.


About the author:

Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9


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