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 features a doctor in a beaver hat on his way to a house call in a one horse buggy. It has excellent color with the image and writing clear and easy to read. The are no nicks, chips or cracks. The mug is approximately 3.5 in diameter and 3.5 inches high.
This occupational shaving mug from the late 19th century features a teamster driving his two horse team and pulling his delivery wagon. He apparently hauled or delivered commercial goods as a teamster. This mug is in excellent condition with very bright colors and clear and easy to read writing. Only the gold trim around the lip is worn while all the other original gold is in tact and in very good condition. This mug has no nicks, chips or cracks. The bottom has the popular "T&V" French mark.
This very unusual occupational shaving mug features a 19th century railroad baggage car. The owner of this mug, initials A.R.S., was apparently a railroad baggage handler. The graphics and writing are very clear, with excellent color and are easy to read. There is a makers mark on the bottom of the mug but it is faded and difficult to read. This mug is in great condition and without any nicks, chips or cracks.
This occupational shaving mug from the late 19th century has a lot going for it. The graphics and color are great. The clothing worn by the female customer and the grocer are easily identified as from the 19th century. There is much going on at the grocers counter, the hanging hams, the wooden buckets, the pickle barrel in front of the counter, etc., etc,. The writing is very easy to read and to recognize that L.C. Fluchs was a grocer. The bottom is marked with "East St Louis Barber Supply" which was one of many places a barber could order his customized occupational shaving mugs from.
This mug is in excellent condition with only one tiny flea bite on the bottom rim. There is a small indention also on the bottom of the rim but it is smooth and glazed over indicating it likely occurred in the firing process and not from wear or an accident. There are no other marks, chips, cracks or repairs.
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 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.
All right, I know this isn't an occupational shaving mug, but it is such a cool barber type item and probably right at the end of the occupational shaving mug period that I thought it had a place here.
I have no idea how it works and am afraid to plug it in. The wires are frayed and scary looking which add to the image. I think that the blade probably fibrated like an electric tooth brush does today. The razor is marked "Turk" and as patented. I would guess it to date to the late 1920s or early 1930s.