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Porcelain tea cup

Artifact of the week is no. HÓ-139, a porcelain tea cup and saucer owned by Túbal Magnússon (1867-1946). It is a mustache cup, or a cup with a little mustache-guard on the inside with a hole through so the cup can be drunk from. It is decorated with a gilded flower pattern and the rhyme „Deinen schönen Bart zu schützen soll Dir diese Tasse nützen“ in German.
The mustache cup is generally believed to have been invented by the English pottery manufacturer Harvey Adams in 1860. Between 1860-1916, men in the British military were required to grow a mustache. This made drinking tea and coffee difficult for some. Not just because they might inadvertently dunk their facial hair in their tea, but because the steam from hot drinks tended to melt the wax they used to shape their mustache. To save men from this embarrassment, Adams installed a mustache guard in his new line of porcelain.
The reason for this seemingly strange regulation in the British military is not certain, but likely originated in the British colonization of India. There, magnificent mustaches were in fashion among men, and one idea is that the British simply jumped on the trend. Another is that bare-faced British military officials had difficulty maintaining authority among their mustachioed troops. Whatever the case, mustache cups became popular all across Europe and North America, everywhere the mustache itself was in vogue.

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