|I thought this was possibly an invalid cup . . .|
Two of my commenters, however, speculated that what I thought was an invalid cup was, in fact, a mustache cup, a form popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century, when men fashionably sported impressive and elaborate mustaches, often waxed. The design of the cup, they wrote, was to allow mustachioed men to drink hot liquids without risking melting the wax in their mustaches, or staining them.
|A mustachioed sipper of beverages|
When I read that I was, to be frank, skeptical. I had never heard of a mustache cup, and I suspected that such term was a later, made-up name that romanticized the original and less happy intended use of such a cup by invalids. It reminded me of the modern-day and ridiculous use of "petticoat table" to describe a pier table, or "Holy Lord Hinges" to describe HL hinges. In other words, I thought it sounded like a silly faux-bit.
|He'll have some coffee, please, but only if you have a mustache cup|
My commenters wrote that an invalid cup actually has a spout, unlike my cup, to pour liquids into the mouth of the afflicted. I doubted that, too, as I thought they were probably referring to a posset pot, a handled vessel with a spout used to drink posset, a drink popular in England in to the nineteenth century at celebrations such as weddings. Here is an example of a posset pot, circa 1705, found on the website of antiques dealers Mark and Marjorie Allen:
|I thought my commenters were referring to this, a posset pot . . .|
But Reggie stands corrected. After doing some basic research I have determined that what I speculated was an invalid cup is, as my commenters correctly guided me, actually a mustache cup. And for that correction Reggie is most grateful, for he humbly strives to use accurate and precise language and terminology whenever possible, and is most happy to be corrected when he hasn't. Besides, being gracious about it makes him feel better about his own, at times tedious, propensity to correct others' errors in matters of terminology, pronunciation, and language.
|He requires a more elaborate delivery device than a mere mustache cup|
According to what I learned, the mustache cup was a form initially popularized in the mid-nineteenth century by a potter named Harvey Adams, of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, England, and which came to peak popularity in the second half of that century, when mustaches were in their greatest vogue, or, should I say, flower. Adams' mustache cup included a ledge, called a mustache guard, with an opening at the cup's edge that allowed the mustachioed user to drink hot beverages through the opening while keeping his mustache safe, dry, and unstained.
|A fastidious candidate for a mustache cup|
Here is an example of a mustache cup that I found that is similar to ours, as featured on the Cajun Collection:
|. . . but what they were really referring to was this, an actual mustache cup|
One of the more entertaining blogs that I came across in my search on this subject is Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century, a site that features many period photographs of mustachioed men who were the prime market for such cups. I found this image of a mustache cup there:
|A mustache cup with an appropriate theme|
Reggie is confident that what he has is a mustache cup, and not a shaving cup or mug, an example of which he found on Antique Associates of West Townsend, Inc., and which looks like this:
|This is not a mustache cup; this is a shaving mug|
And here is an example of a shaving cup/mug that is in Reggie's own collection, that he inherited from his mother, whose childhood nickname appears somewhat incongruously upon it:
|Mummy Darling's mug|
So, what, in fact, is an invalid cup? I found a good example of one on The Pirate's Lair, a site that features antique china, silverware, and furnishings used by the U.S. Navy and other navies:
|So, this is an invalid cup!|
An invalid feeding cup, as it is more prevalently known, is similar to a mustache cup in that it has a ledge covering a portion of the cup's opening so that fluids do not spill out of it when feeding a bed-ridden invalid. However, unlike a mustache cup, but similar to a posset pot (and as my commenters noted), it has a spout attached to it so that its contents, most usually a restorative broth, can be easily poured into the mouth of the waiting patient. It is thought that the one featured in the above photograph was made circa 1890-1915, and would have most likely been sold by a chemist for residential use.
|He probably owns a mustache cup, or two|
Reggie thanks the two anonymous commenters who brought to his attention the error of his description of what he now believes is, indeed, a mustache cup. He is most grateful for the journey into the arcane world of china terminology that it precipitated, and for the knowledge that he has since gained.
|A regular tea cup will do for him, at least for now . . .|
All cabinet photographs of mustachioed men from the collection of Reginald Ambrose Darling. Photos, except where noted, by Boy Fenwick