A Look Back At the Mustache Cups That Kept Tea-Drinkers’ Whiskers Dry

Imagine that it’s Christmas in 1896. What do you get the man who has everything, including a luxuriant mustache? The answer: What man wouldn’t want a mustache cup and matching saucer? Being a man in the late 19th century required an impressive mustache, but drinking tea while mustachioed could be perilous. The heat of the drink melted mustache wax, sending the corners of the mustache drooping flaccidly onto either cheek. Mustaches, and their owners, were literally getting into hot water. The mustache cup was the solution to this embarrassing problem. Invented by the British potter Harvey Adams in the 1870s, it was so popular that within 15 years, he was able to retire. He patented a secret shelf, set inside the cup and shaped like a butterfly, with a hole to drink through. In short: sippy cups for adult men. These sold in great quantities, first in the UK, then throughout Europe. In time, they hit the U.S. and were offered everywhere from Sears to Macy’s.