Shaving Mugs


In the past, shaving was not as easy task, those who shaved needed hot water. So, they needed to first pump the water from a well, then chop wood to burn so they could heat the water on the stove. After that, they needed to carry the hot water to the bathroom. Shaving, unless done outside during the day time, was done in poor lighting in the early days since the light came from candles or lamps.

The classic shaving mug was designed to carry shaving soap or shaving cream. Early vintage mugs were generally decorated with the owner’s occupation or membership in a fraternal group or hobbyist club. Later on, these mugs were also used as promotional items. In terms of time period, the years between 1880 and 1920 are said to be the “glory days” of the shaving mug. Most men owned one of these mugs to use at home or in the barber shop. Many barbershops later put shaving mugs on display in the shop to encourage their customers to return to their barbershop the next time they needed a shave.

Mug racks were later used to display assorted shaving mugs when they started to become collectible items and not just practical ones. The most plentiful mugs are those that are decorated. Many of these are hand painted although some used transfers. Some shaving mugs resemble coffee cups while others have a partition similar to a mustache cup that needs about half a cake of soap. Decorated mugs can be found with flowers, butterflies and feminine designs, but during those days almost every man had a mug like this.

Most of the shaving mugs found in the US were imported from France or Germany. The interest in shaving mugs waned during the Great Depression, but then surged again from the 1950s through to the 1970s. However, during this period these mugs were more often used for decorative rather than practical purposes. The most famous of the shaving soap manufacturers is Old Spice, who promote their product on a shaving mug with their iconical sailing ship.

Image of an antique shaving mug By Naval History & Heritage Command from Washington, DC, USA (2010-115-22 Mug, Shaving) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Vale: Good post Marra, I never heard of these before :) I didn’t realize men used to have so many special accessories, a shaving mug, a mustache cup, :D
  • Marra M: Thanks Vale, I edited this one to add more information. Well, yes I realize that having other accessories were not something new for men that is. Thanks for the positive vote.
  • Vale: I read your updates :) I don’t think that many men nowadays would have a mug with flowers or butterflies. It’s funny how times have changed.
  • Marra M: Yes, no guy today would be caught dead with a mug that are viewed as feminine.
  • Vale: :P

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