Occupational Shaving Mugs
Louis Pastuers' work on the effects of bacteria in the 1870s & 1880s led to new sanitation laws throughout the United States and it became required that each client of a barber have his own shaving mug and mugs were not to be shared. These laws were generally in effect from the 1880s to around 1920. It is interesting to note that there was no restriction in the sharing of razors, just the mugs.
Blank shaving mugs, usually from Germany or France, would have the client's name hand painted, usually in beautiful calligraphy, and a scene painted on the mug depicting the client's profession or occupation. These "occupational shaving mugs" then would be predominately displayed in the barber shop. This display became like business cards, yellow pages or the what internet is today. When someone in the neighborhood needed a trade or service they would simply stop in the barber shop and check out the mugs for the service they required. Some recent auction records of $20,000 to $30,000 have been reached for rare occupational mugs.
This occupational shaving mug from the late 19th century features a teamster (Joe Thompson) driving a two horse freight wagon. The mug has an approximate 3.5 inch diameter and stands about 3.5 inches high. The graphic is very clear with bright colors and is easy to read. The bottom is marked with a "D&C". This mug is in good condition and without any nicks, chips or cracks.
This occupational shaving mug features an electric trolley car and driver, K.G. Palmer. The trolley is very clearly marked "Meriden Electric RR" and is very clear, easy to read and with bright colors. The mug has an approximate 3 inch diameter and stands about 3.25 inches high. It is in good condition and without any nicks, chips or cracks. There are no markings on the bottom of the mug.
This occupational shaving mug features a late 19th century accountant (M. Bates) standing at his desk. The graphics are clear and easy to read. The colors are bright and the mug is in very good condition and without any nicks, chips or cracks. It is marked on the bottom "A. Kern, St Louis". It has an approximate 3.5 inch diameter and stands about 4 inches high.
This occupational shaving mug features a 19th century tailor (Doc Cihok) hard at work measuring a client for a new suit. It also features 4 other individuals, two at work benches and another tailor presenting materials to a different client. It is very unusual to have a mug with so many individuals depicted. Doc Cihok must have operated a large tailor shop or perhaps a large custom clothing store. The mug has an approximate 3.5 inch diameter and stands about 3.5 inches high. It is in very good condition with bright colors and easy to read lettering. There are no nicks, chips or cracks. The bottom is marked "Austria" and "132".
This occupational shaving mug depicts a skull and crossbones. I have asked many collectors and the vocations they suggested might be represented by the skull and crossbones includes undertaker, pharmacist, 19th century pirate and, my favorite and the one I am going with, the Yale secret society called Skull & Crossbones. This then would be more of a Fraternity Shaving Mug but can you imagine how rare and ironic it would be for the Yale alumnus to have his secret society membership identified and on display in the public barbershop?
The writing on this mug is very clear and easy to read. The depiction is also very clear. The mug is in excellent condition and without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs. The mug stands approximately 3.5 inches tall and has a 3.5 inch top and bottom diameter.