Occupational Shaving Mugs & Related Antique Barber's Items
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 is a very unusual occupational shaving mug from around the turn-of-the-century. It features a lovely depicted paint bucket, brush, screw driver (for opening the paint bucket), an artist pallet and brushes. My guess is that Mr. Springet was a professional house painter who was also a struggling and aspiring weekend artist.
The mug is in good condition without any nicks, chips cracks or repairs. The image and the name are very clear, easy to see and to read and in vibrant color. The gold gilt on the bottom rim does show wear and there is a small indenture but the gold gilt has it covered indicating it was from the manufacturing process. The bottom of the mug does have a "V & D Austria" makers mark. The mug is approximately 3.5 inches high with a 3.5 inch diameter.
This occupational shaving mug features a very colorful antique locomotive and coal tender. The engine with its cow tender and large RR engine lantern is seen puffy along. There are no markings on the engine or the coal tender to inform us of its specific railroad. Typically, an engine with a tender like this image usually indicates the owner was a railroad engineer. If it was only a caboose it would usually indicate a railroad brakeman and a passenger car would indicate a conductor, etc.
The image, color and name (William Mitchell) are all very clear, vibrant and easy to read. The mug does not have any makers marks and is in good condition without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs.
Samuel Noll was no doubt an excellent and proud bricklayer. He is depicted very clearly applying his trade on this occupational shaving mug. The image, color and name are vibrant, very clear and easy to read. The bottom of the mug displays the well known "T&V, Limoges France mark indicating this mug dates somewhere in the 1894 to 1906 time frame.
The mug stands about 3.5 inches high and has an approximate 3.75 inch diameter. It is in good condition without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs.
This occupational shaving mug features a large bulls' head in the center, a butchers saw and sharpening item on one side and a butcher cleaver and knife on the other side. The mug is in very good shape with very clear images (flowers on both sides), no nicks, chips, cracks or repairs but the name is faded and difficult to read.
The mug is approximately 4 inches high with a 3.5 inch diameter. There are no markings on the bottom of this mug.
This occupational shaving mug clearly and very colorfully depicts a man with a hunting dog taking aim at three flushing game birds. It clearly is marked "W.F. Eaton". This mug is in very good condition and is without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs. It does have faded gold trim on the top, bottom and sides of the mug. I has an approximate 3.75 inch diameter and same height. The bottom is only marked "4582".
Wow, this is without a doubt my favorite all time occupational shaving mug. It features a wonderful folk art, full body pig. It reminds me of Warren Kimble's folk art cow only it dates to around 1890 and about 100 years before Warren's animal. I would presume that its owner, F.B. Weedin, was a very proud pig farmer and probably a 4H blue ribbon holder.
The image, color and name are all very clear, vibrant and easy to read. The gold guiding on the top, bottom and handle is very worn. There are no marks on the bottom of the Mug and it is approximately 3.75 inches high with a 3.5 inch diameter. The mug is in good condition without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs.
This occupational shaving mug from the late 19th century features a cobbler (shoemaker) hard at work on his cobbler's bench. His name is O. (I bet for Otto) Bunting. The name and the depiction are clear and very easy to interpret. The mug has an approximate 3.75 inch diameter and is about 4 inches tall. There are no makers marks or other signatures. It does have a "2" indicated on the bottom of the mug. It is in very good condition without any 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 glass barber's bottle features a purple tint and has its original stopper. It is larger than most and stands approximately 13.25 tall with the stopper. The bottom of the glass stopper does have some nicks which generally do not show and it is otherwise in good condition without any other nicks, chips or cracks.
This cobalt blue barbers bottle dates to the late 19th century. It features a hand painted band of flowers and its original glass stopper. It is approximately 8 inches tall and in very good condition without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs. The bottom pontil is ground smooth and also has the number 45 written on it
This late 19th century cranberry barbers bottle features the image of a deer with a trees and flora background. It does have a roughly polished bottom pontil and is marked with 135. It still has its original glass stopple which has some bottom nicks which are only exposed when the stopple is removed from the bottle. There are no other nicks, chips, cracks or repairs on the bottle itself. It stand approximately 8 inches tall.
This amber barbers bottle is marked in raised letters: "Qban, for the hair". It stands approximately seven (7) inches tall. There is no cap or stopper with this bottle. It is in good condition without any nicks, chips or cracks.
This antique barber's bowl dates to the 1860s. It was originally used for blood letting, the number one procedure a 19th century barber did. Later, it was likely used while shaving a patron. It is beautifully decorated with flowers and is approximately 14.5 inches long and about
10 inches wide. It is in very good condition and without any nicks, chips, cracks or repairs. Barbers bowls generally tend to be rare and hard to find.
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.