How To Collect Antique Shaving Mugs

Shaving during the late 1800 to early 1900 was a complicated task for every man. It was an activity that needed a lot of preparation and materials. Some who had the luxury of time and patience did the job at home, while others who had the luxury of money chose to spend some at their local barber shop. Shaving mugs were used to hold the shaving soap used for shaving. Every single man during that period might have owned one at home and another one at his barber shop. With the advent of new inventions for shaving such as the shaving cream, these shaving mugs were displaced and rendered useless. Present time collectors, meanwhile, have found their interest in hunting and collecting thousands of displaced shaving mugs from that era. If you wish to join in this venture here’s how to get started:

  • Have a basic knowledge about antique shaving mugs. As with any other collectible items, it is wise to acquaint yourself first with basic knowledge. Read several published literature about the subject. Start with these standard references: "The Shaving Mug & Barber Bottle Book" by Keith Estep and "The Vanishing American Barbershop" by Ronald Barlow.
  • Decide how much money you intend to spend for this collection. This will dictate the type of shaving mug you will pursue collecting. Mugs that were used at home are usually more attractive, diverse and relatively cheaper too. They cost about $10 to $150. On the other hand, mugs formerly used in barber shops were more personalized as they bear the owner’s name, hence more expensive. Price for this type ranges from $50 to $5,000.
  • Set your own goal before starting to find mugs for collection. There is a more logical way of collecting, other than just grabbing the first antique shaving mugs you see. You may want to collect a sample of each type, or concentrate in a particular category or particular manufacturer. Having a goal will allow you to organize your collection so you could easily have sub-collections.
  • Hunt for antique shaving mugs according to your pre-set goals. Similar to any other antique collectibles, antique shaving mugs can be found in several places. Auctions are best if you have enough funds for this hobby. On the other hand, cheaper and more accessible places are yard sales and flea markets. However, if you don’t feel like traveling in person, eBay will surely accommodate your search.
  • Find out the value of your find. Finding antique shaving mugs is easy, but evaluating their value is another story. There are things to look for depending on the type of mugs you want to purchase. For example, for an occupational and fraternal mug, look for the clarity of the picture as well as the absence of cracks, flakes or chips. If your mug comes with gold, evaluate its integrity on the name or top and bottom rings. The gold lettering should be intact and with no defect of any sort.
  • Provide some dignified space to house your collection. Mug racks can be purchased to hold at least 35 to 70 mugs. Consider providing space in your home for displaying the mugs you have acquired. It is up to you how you will accommodate your growing collection. Usually, mug racks previously used in barber shops cost about $15 to $20 per mug hole. It is more expensive than newer racks but it will really add to the character of your collection, which is antique.

This is an interesting hobby, designed to make you proud when you put on display your final collection. Antique shaving mugs still hold a handsome tradition meant to be remembered up to this day.


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