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Moustache Cups

A Little Moustache Cup History

Moustache Cups have certainly been around for a very long time. It appears to have been invented sometime in the 1860’s by a potter named Harvey Adams. During Edwardian times, the moustache was the prerogative of a gentleman and generally servants were required to be clean shaven. The moustache also had its attractions for the ladies and for most men, it was considered to be a necessary accoutrement to have to be an acceptable gentleman in that society. Moustaches were always well groomed – trimmed, brushed and dyed – and frequently curled in order to  

maintain that particularly elegant appearance. Curling the moustache was a particularly popular thing to do and because large amounts of wax were frequently used to maintain the moustache “lift” and curl, certain problems occurred that had to be overcome. When steaming hot cups of liquid – coffee or tea for example – were brought to the mouth for sipping,  the steam or hot beverage had a tendency to melt the wax or at the very least to cause an embarrassing “drooping” of the curled ‘stache.  Moustaches became stained and a lighter coloPortable Moustache Guardred moustache would become dirty and unsightly. The solution to this was the Moustache Cup.

Moustache Cups or mugs were designed with a small ledge or dam across the part of the cup brought to the mouth which was sometimes called a moustache guard. The guard had a semi-circular opening against the side of the cup. The gentleman’s ‘stache rested safe and dry on the ledge while sipping the beverage through the opening. Soon after the introduction of the Moustache Cup, its use spread to the Continent and thence to America where it became popular and Moustache Cups were made by many manufacturers. At that time, the cups were primarily porcelain and were indeed cups. Mugs were not in societal fashion here in the America at that time and the available Moustache Cups would be considered by many of us to be a little effete and certainly not large enough to hold enough coffee or tea to be considered practical although I suppose in a formal setting they have a place.  They were the sort of cup that one used with an outstretched pinkie. They became so popular that portable “moustache protectors” became quite the rage and there were quite a few different styles available. You could carry them with you so that your prized ‘stache could always be protected. Above on the left is a portable metal Moustache Guard from my collection and on the right an advertisement for one style of guard. Guards were universal in the sense that they could be used by either right handed or left handed drinkers.

Portable Victorian Moustache Guard

Late 19th C Advertisement

During the late 1910’s and into the 20’s and 30’s, the Moustache Cup fell out of use probably because of World War 1 and the invention of the Safety Razor. Although King Camp Gillette was granted a patent for his razor in 1904, it didn’t come into common use until he was awarded a contract to supply American Troops during WW1 as part of their standard field kits. The returning soldiers were allowed to keep that part of the kit when they returned from the Great War and certainly retained their shaving habits. That was the beginning of the end of the common hirsute facial adornment.