Moustache cup

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A moustache cup in the Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo

The moustache cup (or mustache cup) is a drinking cup with a semicircular ledge inside. The ledge, called a moustache guard, has a half moon-shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids and serves as a guard to keep moustaches dry. It is generally acknowledged to have been invented in the 1870s by British potter Harvey Adams (1835–?).[1][2]

Historic context[edit]

Moustaches flourished throughout the Victorian era, and by the early twentieth century, the British Army required soldiers to grow a moustache.[3][4][5][better source needed] Often, moustache wax was applied to the moustache to keep it stiff, with every hair in place. When drinking hot liquids, steam from the drink would melt the wax, which would drip into the cup. Sipping hot tea or coffee would also often stain moustaches.[6][7]


The new invention spread all over the European continent and soon, every famous potter was making the new cups. A multiplicity of moustache cups were made by famous manufactories such as Meissen, Royal Crown Derby, Imari, Royal Bayreuth, Limoges and others.[8] Each potter created his own version of this masculine tableware and the news of that invention soon spread to America.[9][7]

A collection of cups from the tea museum at Mariage Freres, Paris

Although many moustache cups were made in America, the earliest were marked with names which led buyers to believe they were actually manufactured in England. This was due to the popularity of English-made ceramics. Therefore, with the exception of the quadruple silverplate moustache cups made in the U.S., it is nowadays extremely difficult to find an authentic Victorian moustache cup bearing an American pottery mark.

Decline and resurgence[edit]

Between 1920 and 1930, moustaches progressively began to go out of fashion; hence, moustache cup production fell. Today, though, these examples of Victorian male elegance are coveted and collected by a growing number of enthusiasts.[1]

Moustache cups are becoming highly collectible as their popularity has increased in recent years due to a resurgence of men's facial hair styles, particularly ones calling for moustache wax.[10][11]

In popular culture[edit]

In James Joyce's Ulysses, Leopold Bloom drinks his tea from a moustache cup he received from his daughter Milly for his twenty-seventh birthday.[12]

In the opening scene of the 1931 short comedy Be Big!, Oliver Hardy, while packing for a trip to Atlantic City, coyly asks his wife if she packed his moustache cup.

In Episode 15 of Season 4 of The Andy Griffith Show, Aunt Bee receives one as a gift from a local farmer, Mr. Frisby.

In Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara thinks of the painted China moustache cups she made for the bazaar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Frost, Natasha (May 31, 2017). "A Look Back at the Mustache Cups That Kept Tea-Drinkers' Whiskers Dry". Atlas Obscura - Stories. Atlas Obscura. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  2. ^ Mug, Bucardo. "History and Evolution of the Mustache Guard". Bucardo Mug. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  3. ^ War Office (1908). The King's Regulations and Orders for the Army. HMSO. p. 275. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  4. ^ Macready, Nevil (1925). Annals of an Active Life. Doran. p. 257-259. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  5. ^ "BIG BRITISH ARMY PROBLEM.; Officers and Men Want Order Compelling Mustaches Rescinded". timesmachine.nytimes.comhttp. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  6. ^ [1] Kovels - moustach cups
  7. ^ a b "BBC - A History of the World - Object : three comemorative moustache tea cups". Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  8. ^ "HISTORY". MoGuard. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  9. ^ "What every bearded man needs? Huge collection of antique moustache cups - to protect your facial hair - up for auction". Hansons Auctioneers. 2022-02-15. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  10. ^ [2] My Moustache Cup - History
  11. ^ "Moustache Cups". Otago Museum. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  12. ^ Joyce, James (1934). Ulysses. Modern Library. p. 694.

External links[edit]