The History Of the Shaving Mug


American Barber Supplies began to buy scented shaving soaps from over seas in the early1840’s. The shaving soaps were packaged in porcelain containers decorated with fancy advertisements. By 1870 paper wrapped soap replaced the containers to be used with a shaving mug.
Occupational Shaving Mugs are at the top of the list when it comes to barbershop collectibles. At the beginning of 1870’s most men owned a shaving mug at home or at his barbershop. The patrons thought it would aid in reducing the rashes caught from the barber but actually it was the unsanitary razors that caused the rashes. Shaving mugs also were a status symbol for barbers and customers as well. The amount of mugs a barber had on display would represent his clientele base.  From 1870 to 1920 millions of shaving mugs were produced making them fairly available today. On any day one can connect to eBay and find hundreds of shaving mugs to bid on.  Antique shaving mugs range from tens to thousands of dollars depending on how rare the occupation was the more expensive the shaving mug.
Hand Painted occupational shaving mugs are excellent examples of American folk art. Blank mugs were shipped from Germany and France to the US to be painted. Of course all mugs are not created equal. There are personalized mugs with mild detail and those with serious artistry including gold leaf trimming and ceramic glazes then a few sessions in a gas kiln. Collectors simply call it “Eye Appeal.”
Distinctions In Collectible Shaving Mugs is between the mugs used at home and those used in barbershops. Shaving mugs used at home had more appeal, style, shape and artistic expression. They were also the least expensive and could be found in almost any home and purchased from a local catalog.
“In 1932 Katherine Morrison Kahle wrote a article on old time shaving mugs which was published in Magazine Antiques and they have been popular collectible ever since.” “By 1949 writer/collector Porter Ware had collected more than 500 different mugs and wrote a book on shaving mugs.”
If you are interested in becoming a collector here are a few leads. NASMC contact Penny Nader, treasurer, at 320 S. Glenwood St. Allentown PA 18104,

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