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.
What a unique and wonderful representation of an occupational shaving mug. A man, T. Dooren, is depicted standing on a scaffold and in the process of plastering a ceiling. He is obviously a professional plasterer. The writing and the depiction is easy to read and to see. The gold leaf on the bottom on the mug does have wear but otherwise this mug is in very good condition and without any cracks, chips, nicks or repairs. It does have a makers' mark, "T&V", on the bottom. The top and the bottom diameter are 3.5 inches and the mug is approximately 3.5 inches high.
This occupational shaving mug features a man driving a horse drawn wagon. The wagon is marked "Grocer" and the name on the mug is W. Hemme. This mug belonged to a grocer or perhaps a grocery delivery person. The writing and the depiction are both very clear, easy to read and to see. This mug, in fact, is exceptionally clear for being well over 100 years old. There does appear to be a hairline crack on the inside bottom that can also be seen on the outside bottom. It is very faint and not easily seen. It is completely stable and not at all a structural issue. The mug has an approximate 3.5 inch top and bottom diameter and is about 3.5 inches tall. The bottom is marked with the initials "CFH"
I am calling this occupational shaving mug a "dry goods storekeeper", although I am pretty sure it had another name in its hey day. It clearly displays the name H. "Pieller" and depicts a man with a mustache behind a dry goods store counter waiting on a lady customer who is wearing a wonderful Victorian dress. While it does still have all of its gold leaf on the top portion on the mug, there is none on the bottom and, assuming it did originally have gold leaf on the bottom, it has been worn off. The name is all very clear and easy to read and the depiction is in very good color and very easy to interpret. The top inside diameter is approximately 3.5 inches wide, the bottom outside diameter is about 4 inches wide and the mug stands about 4 inches high. The bottom is marked "Arro & Company, St Louis". this mug is in very good condition and without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs.
This has to be one of my personal and all time favorite occupational shaving mugs. The depiction is of a wallpaper hanger standing on a ladder and hanging wallpaper on an interior wall. At the foot of the ladder is a large wooden bucket of wallpaper paste. The wallpaper features a pale green color and a popular oriental themed design which was very fashionable in Victorian times. The writing, W.W. Pearce, is very clear and easy to read. The depiction itself and the color is exceptional. There is no guessing what the gentleman is doing. He is in period work clothes and is wearing a large hat to protect his hair from splattering wallpaper paste. The mug is in excellent condition and without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs. The bottom is marked "3427". The mug has an approximate 3.5 inch top an bottom diameter and stands about 3.5 inches tall.
This mug inspired me to write the "Ode to Wallpaper Hangars" which you can click on at the bottom of this "Occupational Shaving Mug Catagory"
This is another one of my favorites. This occupational shaving mug features a man, presumably F. Schelligmmer, driving a two horse driven wagon which displays signage indicating this is a milk wagon for the Mathis Dairy of Rome, NY. Rome is a very old and little town about 25 or 30 miles north east of Syracuse, NY. I am in that area for the Madison/Brouckville antique show each summer and sometimes pass through the area on the way to fishing the Salmon River. There is a wonderful old Italian restaurant in Rome that is an absolute must if you are ever in the area.
This mug is in excellent condition, the writing is very clear and easy to read. The depiction has great original color and is very clear and easy to interpret. The top diameter is approximately 3.5 inches wide while the bottom is about 3.25 inches wide and the mug stands about 3.5 inches high. There are no nicks, chips, cracks or repairs.
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.
This antique mug has a hand painted scene featuring a saloon keeper serving a customer. Its' owner's name was Otto Johnson. This mug has an approximate top diameter, bottom diameter and height of 4 inches each. This mug is in good condition without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs.
This occupational shaving mug features a doctor in a buggy and probably on his way to a house call. His name is DR Russr. The depiction and the writing is clear and easy to see and to read. The top and bottom diameter are both 3.5 inches and it is 3.5 inches high. The bottom is marked (appears stamped) with "P. Kawalkowski" who was probably the artist who painted the mug. The mug also has a makers mark of "V & D" and "Austria". It is in very good condition with no chips, nicks or cracks.
This antique occupational shaving mug features a hand painted scene of a horse drawn trolly and its driver meaning that the owner was a professional trolly driver. You can see the passengers through the windows and there is one lady about to debark through the rear door. The name on the mug is A.N. Hale. There is a painted raised frame surrounding the scene. The bottom is only marked "1209". This mug is in very good condition with the name and painted scene both clear and easy to see. We believe this to be an earlier mug and dates to the late 1880s or early 1890s. There are no nicks, cracks or chips.
The bottom and top diameters are both 3.5 inches and the mug is 4 inches high.
This is a beautifully hand painted stable scene featuring a man shoeing a horse while the customer is waiting and a blacksmith is at work in the background. It has a top diameter of 3.5 inches, a bottom diameter of 3.25 inches and stands about 3.25 inches high. It is in good condition without any repairs, nicks, chips or cracks. The first two initials and the last two letters of the last name are faded and hard to read. The bottom is marked "Herald Bros Barber's Supplies, Cleveland, Ohio".