| The mustache was the
well groomed dashing gentleman’s accessory during
the Victorian era. The popularity of facial hair was
a masculine must. Often mustache wax was applied to
the mustache to keep the hairs perfectly in place
and to keep it stiff. However, when a steaming hot
drink was brought into the vicinity of the mouth,
the steam would melt the wax and the wax sometimes
was transferred to the cup, followed by an
un-groomed mustache that had gone all willy-nilly
leaving its owner in a rather embarrassing state.
Another problem was that some teas and coffees would
stain the mustache.
The wonderful mustache cup was created by British
potter Harvey Adams in the 1860s. This was a
drinking cup with a semicircular ledge inside
(referred to as the “mustache guard”) that had a
half moon opening to allow the beverage to slip
through. The ledge conveniently held the consumer’s
mustache away from the liquid, and kept it dry while
the drink was enjoyed. This protected the style,
wax, and natural hue. The popularity of these cups
These are commercial reproductions of the once
common mustache cup.
Notice the centre one is for a left handed
In no time at all, all the potters and ceramic suppliers
were making mustache cups. Most were produced in England by
famous manufacturers such as Royal Crown Derby, Imari,
Meissen, Royal Bayreuth, and Limoges. The invention soon
spread to America but, due to the popularity of British
ceramic makers, many of the American made cups were named to
sound like they had come from England.
By 1930 mustache cups, and the once loved hairy appendage,
had begun to lose their popularity. We find that today a
number of enthusiastic collectors covet the elegant
Victorian mustache cup.
My collection includes this original Victorian
gentleman's cup, with the (guard less) matching
Note the Irish emblems and the exquisite detail on
Collector's swoon at the view of this matching set.
Professor Douglas Fraser