I decided to write a “puff” piece today because I thought I wouldn’t have to do much research on the topic. It’s a laid-back fall morning in Norfolk, Nebraska and I’m still a bit sleepy. I did a lot of yardwork and housework yesterday so the laziness factor enters in. A topic is needed. Hmm. I wonder what is something sort of seasonal yet not deep. I don’t want deep today, maybe tomorrow or the next day, but not today. I take a sip of morning coffee.
“Hey!” The bright red mug with Japanese Kanji seems to say. “What about me?”
Now, there’s an idea. I have a cache of mugs. In fact, several caches of mugs. Why don’t I dig out a few for the camera and fire away? I have a lot of different collections, but the mugs are basic utilitarian vessels that are fun to actually, personally use. These mugs have come into my orbit as gifts from friends, or happened along as souvenirs, part of dinnerware sets, or were simply “finds”.
As anthropological and archaeological studies have confirmed, mugs are older than civilized man. A mug being defined as a drinking vessel with a handle. There are examples of drinking vessels without handles that are older, but they are not mugs.
Archaeologists generally agree that the first examples of mugs date back 10,000 years to the Neolithic age. The earliest mugs were found in China and Japan. Other very early mugs were used in the city-states of ancient Greece. The Romans also enjoyed their mugs. Personally, I enjoy the sensual act of drinking my favorite beverage from a big ol’ clunky mug. It’s a primal pleasure.
The red and black mugs are part of a set. My knowledge of Japanese has deteriorated, so if any of my readers can translate them, I’d be very happy to know what they say. The Mexican cactus mug appeared in an earlier bluejayblog post, I keep returning to it as a favorite. The brown one is part of a casual dinnerware set made in the 1960s by Hull Pottery, now defunct. The sow and piglets decorate a stoneware mug from Kentucky.
In the front row is a souvenir mug from Hawai’i, it’s a standard coffee mug of the sort that feature various themes, often comical. The shiny glass mug was made by Fireking. The glossy finish is called “peach luster”, it’s part of a luncheon set manufactured in the very early 1950s.
The second row shows a sturdy souvenir mug from Key West, Florida, it’s of fairly recent vintage. The birthday mug is somewhat large. It’s fairly new and was a gift last year from a pal. “Home Sweet Home” is part of a set that includes a toothpick holder plus salt and pepper shakers. I’m guessing plates and bowls might be part of the set, but I don’t have them.
The back row has some nice examples of mid 20th century pottery. The one decorated with circles and waves is a rare USA vessel. The mug with the “foam” effect is a highly collectable stein made by McCoy pottery.
Next to the blue jay is a Frankoma red clay soup mug from the now defunct, but famous pottery from Oklahoma. Their pieces are highly desirable and collectable. I like to use this on cold, wintery evenings to hold a hot, steamy stew. The metal mug laying on its side is a promotional item used to advertise Prusser’s British Navy Rum. Presumably the swabbies partake of their daily ration from such mugs. The “Hang Ten Hawaii” mug-tankard was carved from teakwood. It’s quite a fun piece.
In the back is an insulated travel mug that I use in the car. Its bottom is designed to fit in automotive cup holders. Next to it is an antique with a nautical/pirate theme. An old salty sailor might enjoy the parrot engraving…arrrr!
Serious mug collectors devote rooms of space to their hobby. Luckily, I only keep a modest collection. These are all mugs that I continue to use as my moods change. For me, it’s all about variety.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes you have a fun collection of something, too.