Antique Shaving Mugs
Antique Shaving Mugs -- Many Different Designs and Motifs
I came across my grandfather's antique shaving mug the other day and thought it might be interesting to share some information.
Back in the 1800's and early 1900s men used hard shave soap placed in a shaving mug and applied with a brush. The shave was with a straight razor, no safety razors back then. If they got barber shaves then the mug stayed in the barber shop. Each man's mug had his name on it. Good idea as nothing was sterilized.
The mugs were stored on a rack which was a set of wooden shelves divided into mug size boxes. One is visible in the intro photo -- look to the right above the sink. A lot of these are sold today as antiques as they make a great display shelf for small collectibles.
The mugs came in a wide variety of patterns and designs. Very common were the occupational mugs depicting each man's occupation. There were also mugs from fraternal organizations such as the Masons and Elks.
Alas and alack, my poor maternal grandfather had a frosted glass one with dainty little painted flowers on it. It was part of a bathroom vanity set which included perfume, after shave bottle and a dusting powder holder. Needless to say he shaved at home and did not bring this to the barber shop.
Grandpa's Shaving Mug
This is the front of my grandfather's shaving mug. It's an occupational shaving mug for a blacksmith.
Grandpa was a blacksmith, but he did not shoe horses. Some blacksmiths were also farriers (people who shoe horses).
Grandpa would be more the equivalent of a tool and die maker. His brother, Tony, owned a construction company. In those days, when tools needed to be made for a particular purpose you went to the blacksmith. Also, the tools would become broken or dull and need reshaping. Basically, he was a metal worker. He had a forge and a big old pair of bellows to fan the coals.
His name is on top in gold that is fading.
So......why is a barber pole red and white?
Yes, they were originally red and white, not red,white & blue
In years gone by (thank goodness) barbers used to not only cut hair and shave patrons, but they performed dental work and surgery. Also, blood letting and leeching.
The red represented his surgery skill (I'm guessing blood) and the white was for being a barber.
Views Of Grandpa's Shaving MugClick thumbnail to view full-size
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A little barber shop in the Bronx
The barbershop my grandfather went to for many years, where his shaving mug stayed, was Alfonse's Neill Avenue in the Bronx. At that time, the building it was in, was owned by his brother-in-law, Orlando. Grandpa's brother Joe owned the shoestore next door to the barber. (Where the black and white awning is now.)
When my sister and I were little, we would go to see Alfonse for our haircuts. He would put the special insert in the big barber chair so we could sit up. Alfonse said he enjoyed cutting our hair, unlike other children we had deep voices and didn't screech and whine.
When my Dad was in his early nineties, I used to still be able to take him there. It was now called Boris Barber Shop. Once inside he would delight in telling the barber and everyone waiting, how he was the first customer ever in that barber shop in 1929. "Why even got his haircut there, before they had put the glass in the windows".
As you look to the left side of the photo, that store was once a cobbler shop. When I was a child my Grandfather's brother Joe operated his shoe repair shop there.
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© 2012 Ellen Gregory