If you want to cultivate the habits of a dapper dandy from days of yore, it’ll require more than just a straight razor: Long before Barbasol, real men relied on a badger-hair brush and a ceramic shaving mug to get them through their facial regimen. Used in tandem with round bars of soap that fit neatly into the bottoms of these mugs, gentlemen would vigorously scrub the bars with their brushes to generate a mug full of thick lather for smooth, straight-razor shaving.

So-called “wet shaving,” as this technique is known, is an art unto itself, and when beards went out of style following the Civil War, many men preferred to put their sensitive cheeks in the hands of professional barbers. As patronage increased, tonsorialists needed a way to ensure cleanliness for their customers, so many set aside individualized mugs and brushes for their regular clientele.

Companies like the Koken Barber Supply Company of St. Louis capitalized on the market for unique shaving mugs, which boomed throughout the Victorian Era. Ceramic mugs with gilded patterns became popular gifts, and were frequently personalized with a man’s name and a custom photograph printed right onto the pottery. Some of the most collectible shaving mugs featured their owner’s profession, favorite sport, or fraternal organization.

Shaving mugs were typically made by large potteries, such as Sèvres, Limoges, or Homer Laughlin, and embellished by smaller companies like Smith Brothers in Boston or B. Stuebner’s Sons in Brooklyn. The most elaborate versions included a small glass mirror, a drawer for storing soap, or a spout for pouring off excess water (such mugs are often referred to as scuttles). Brushes were usually made of wood, ivory, metal, Catalin, or Bakelite handles topped with badger bristles.

By the late 19th century, manufacturers were also specializing in thick-foaming soaps, drawn by the success of Vroom and Fowler’s Walnut Oil Military Shaving Soap. But as more men adopted safety razors and disposable blades after their 1903 debut, shaving mugs and brushes began to go out of fashion. Burma-Shave introduced pre-lathered shaving cream in 1925, and the addition of aerosol cans following World War II made shaving mugs as quaint as butter churns. However, traditionalists can still find classic shaving implements made by a few longstanding manufacturers, like A. Simpson & Co., which has sold handmade shaving brushes since 1919, as well as newer toiletry companies like Gillette and Old Spice.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Anna Checcoli's homage to the beauty and art of hand fans ('ventagli,' in Italian). Use the left-hand nav to browse… [read review or visit site]



Dr. David Fleishman's comprehensive spectacles site (over 3500 images), in collaboration with museums around the wo… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Simpsons Chubby 2 Manchurian Disco Haze Shave BrushOccupational Shaving Mug Shoe Shine W Customer Unmarked Porcelain Pink SidesOccupational Shaving Mug Decorative House Room Trim Painter Unmarked PorcelainVintage Rubberset Aluminum Handled Shave Brush #3Green Ever Ready 150 Shaving Brush Restored With Maggard's 22mm Synthetic KnotVintage Shaving Brush C-mon Deluxe Set In Rubber Green Bakelite Handle Ex. Con.Antique Civil War Era Tin Shaving Mug Cup Officer Soldier Item Vintage Set In Rubber Ever Ready Sterilized Shaving Brush L 98Rubberset Shaving Brush Made In UsaNobleman Pewterware Sheffield England Razor And Brush Stand With Shave Soap BowlVintage Rubberset Aluminum Handle #4 Shaving BrushCollectible Handsome Old Spice Lidded Shaving Mug-1401Old Spice Shaving Mug Vintage 1938-1941 Hull Pottery 0-1Vintage Rubberset 200-4 Shaving BrushVintage Rubberset Sterilized Shaving Cream BrushLot 11 Vintage Men's Shaving Barber BrushsBurma Shave Brush And Soap CakeVintage New Old Stock 6.8oz Brooks Brothers Shaving Soap .Vintage New Old Stock 6.5 Oz Sandlewood Shaving Soap Crabtree & Evelyn LondonAntique German Silver Shaving MugVintage International Pure Badger Shave BrushVintage Old Spice Shaving Mug Ship Recovery Salem 1794 Cup #7 With BrushVintage Old Spice Shaving Mug And Ever-ready 100 Shaving BrushHouse For Men Art Deco Shaving Four Item Kit Lotion, Talc, Ever Ready Brush,Vintage Mcp Australian Pottery Aboriginal Face Shaving Mug CupAntique W. Greaves & Sons 6/8" Straight Razor. W/ Box And Shaving Brush.Vintage Old Spice Shaving Mug With 5 Assorted Fuller/ever Ready Shave BrushesKlenzo B 985 Shaving Brush Restored With Maggard's 20mm Synthetic Tuxedo Knot30mm /72mm Silvertip Badger Hair Shaving Brush Knot Shaving Group 7pc Brushes Schick Razor Scissors Mug Mirror All Vintage Ever Ready 38n Bakelite Shaving Brush Restored To 24mm Badger Knot FrankenbrushVintage Silver Handle Shaving Brush Vintage Shaving Brush's Stag, Ever-ready And Rubberset All Made In U.s.aVintage New Old Stock 6.8oz Brooks Brothers Shaving Soap .Vintage New Old Stock 6.5 Oz Sandlewood Shaving Soap Crabtree & Evelyn LondonLarge Lot Of Batman Collectables Toothbrush, Shaving Brush, Cup, Pencil, GunVintage Black Americana Bristle Brush, Shaving, Clothing, Crumber, WoodenOld Spice Shaving Cup Mug Grand Turk Sailing Ship Salem 1786 ShultonFaux Horn Resin Handle Finest 2band Badger Hair Men Shave BrushVintage Ever Ready Pure Badger Shaving Brush "d"Copper Shaving Bowl / Mug / Cup With Handle, For Shaving Brush Ever-readty Shaving Brush And SoapVtg Old Spice Shaving Mug Salem 1794 Williams Soap, Brush, Gillette BladesVintage Early American Old Spice Shaving Mug "shulton Inc."Vintage Early American Old Spice Shaving MugAntique Shaving Bowl Tunstall Pitcairne Porcelaine Royale Limited England Norma Vintage Shaving Brush Dark Butterscotch Swirl Thick 2oz Nice Vintage Mohawk Shaving BrushVintage Kriss Kross Shaving BrushVintage Ever Ready Shaving BrushVintage Ever Ready Shaving BrushMetal Chrome And Resin Handle Pure Badger Hair Men Shave BrushOld Spice Shaving Mug - Early American Old Spice , Shulton , Clifton , N.j. Vintage Currier And Ives Blue & White Shaving Cup A Home In The Wilderness80mm Dia Stainless Steel Shaving Bowl Mug Cup W/ Shank For Brush Soap Razor ToolMen's Badger Hair Shaving Brush Barber Salon Men Facial Beard Cleaning & HandleSynthetic Silvertip Badger Hair Shaving Brush Men Wet Shave Natural Wood HandleMen Shaving Bear Brush Best Badger Hair Shave Wood Handle Razor Barber Too Ls4gSm Men Shaving Bear Brush Best Badger Hair Shave Wood Handle Razor Barber ToolEnglish Leather Shave Bowl Refill Soap