Shaving Mug Collection

Value (2005) | $7,000 Auction$9,000 Auction

GUEST:
I got them for the most part in New York and Pennsylvania in the middle '30s--in, uh, maybe '34, '35, '36. My dad was an oil man, and he became a technical writer for oil trade journals. And so, freelance, he could travel when he wanted to. And so every summer we would travel to a particular petroleum area, and twice we... maybe three times, we went back to New York and Pennsylvania, uh, where the birthplace of U.S. Oil was.

APPRAISER:
I mean, in those days, the barbershops still had these, plenty of them on the shelves?

GUEST:
Oh, yes, yes, in fact, in New York, went into a barbershop, and he must have had 200 of them on shelves in the back. Each man had his own personal barber mug, and he would go in daily to the barbershop. And then, they slowly, you know, died off and so forth. And so this one place, I said, "Uh, how much do you want for them?" Well, the standard going price was 25 cents, which is what I made when I worked for an hour, you know?

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
So, I only got three or four of them from him.

APPRAISER:
You made a great investment. It's a great collection of shaving mugs or barber's mugs.

GUEST:
Thank you.

APPRAISER:
You've even got one of the old shaving brushes, which I like. This one is more of a domestic shaving mug, the kind that you would have at home, which has the little area here to froth up the soap in. So this is not, strictly speaking, a barber's mug. But the rest of them are. They were made mostly in Germany or in France. I'd like to show you one of the few that has a maker's mark on it.

GUEST:
Oh, thank you.

APPRAISER:
Uh, this one here has just the initials "C.F.H." Charles Field Haviland.

GUEST:
Oh, it's a Haviland.

APPRAISER:
Who was a well-known porcelain maker in Limoges in France. And this one probably dates from the late 1880s or through the 1890s. And I like this one especially. And this really relates to your father's business. It's an oil derrick, and it's what we call an occupational mug.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
Now, some of the ones you've got are not occupational. This one, for instance, is a typical one. It has just the name of the gentleman on it, and that's pretty much it, with a little gold border. It's worth today perhaps $100, something like that. The occupational ones are where the value lies. And it depends on the rarity or the appeal of the occupation. This one-- which I think is perhaps the best one here... I talked to some of my colleagues about what we thought it could be worth. We've seen very few of these oil occupational ones. We think this one alone could be worth over $1,000, or perhaps over $1,500.

GUEST:
Oh! So my two bits is a pretty good investment.

APPRAISER:
Not a bad investment back then. The railway ones-- always very popular. Certainly in the high hundreds-- $600, $700, $800 apiece for the nice railway-related occupational mugs. This is not occupational. Quite common, but still worth $300, $400.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
I love this one. Do you know what this is?

GUEST:
For a dentist, I presume.

APPRAISER:
You see that? It's a dentist. I looked at that a couple of times before I could figure out that it's a set of teeth.

GUEST:
Oh, it's a set... Oh!

APPRAISER:
So this gentleman, Mr. Brooks, was a dentist. (laughing) Great occupational one, and again, worth perhaps as much as $1,000.

GUEST:
Ooh. Ooh.

APPRAISER:
This is a rare one. We think, um, if this all came at auction as a single group, you'd have a value here of at least $7,000, and maybe as much as $9,000.

GUEST:
Ooh. Just these that are here?

APPRAISER:
Just these that are here.

GUEST:
Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

APPRAISER:
Oh, you're welcome.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Heritage Auctions
Dallas, TX
Appraised value (2005)
$7,000 Auction$9,000 Auction
Event
Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2005)
Form
Mug
Material
Ceramic

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