The Victor Mug: The Social Life of Things

More than a drink, coffee is a ritual. Sleepy-eyed in the early morning quiet . . . we follow a familiar and comforting routine.  After a few minutes, the coffee  is ready and hot. Grab your mug. . . . your favorite mug, the mug, the ritual mug. The vessel for the ritual of waking to a new day.

More important than the brew is the vessel. I didn’t understand the importance of this until I spent time in France. There is no better coffee to be found; but, I needed a mug for coffee that I made in my apartment. Not pretty. Not porcelain. Not delicate. Not small. A real mug.

I searched for a mug with the proper weight, ample size and simple. It took days to find a mug that was adequate. I settled for a mug from England that was very close. Handsome it was . . . over time, I learned to appreciate this mug. But, I was disappointed when it did not survive the journey home.

I was not the first to need a mug that could make a long journey. The armed services especially the Navy looked for mug that would “work” on a ship. The necessary characteristics were heft and stability – Victor produced the mug needed by the Navy. The porcelain produced by the Victor Insulator Company in New York was used to ground electrical wires. Heavy duty thick ironstone that also keeps coffee warm for a bit longer.

Coffee is a habit loved by men and women in all walks of life. Indeed, for many of us, it is a  struggle to go through the morning without coffee. Especially for a soldier who is far from home. During the Civil War, one young man wrote,  “We are reduced to quarter rations and no coffee,” he continued. “And nobody can soldier without coffee.” NPR

I have read stories about men in World War II giving their mugs to those who asked. They were in demand. Hopper painted a diner scene with the familiar white mug. In the cartoon, Beetle Bailey, there is the white mug. And I have seen the Victor mug in quite a few old films. Stay tuned to see a few of our Victor Mugs in the new film, Midway.  Certainly a film about a critical Navy battle would not be complete without a Victor Mug!

We have sent Victor Mugs to buyers all over the world. This morning a Victor Mug was sent to North Carolina and Germany. We have mailed them to Saudi Arabia and Istanbul. Hong Kong and Australia. We have even sent them to sailors on Navy vessels in the Pacific.


The Victor Mug

Some days, I have the crazy idea that peace in the world is possible. If only we could sit with a cup of coffee in a Victor Mug and talk. There is a spirit in the thing itself . . .

Notice the dings on the bottom rim; but yet, the mug did not break. It survived to see another coffee break!

You can see our Victor Mugs – some with green lines – in our Etsy Shop.




More to Explore:

Click to access Appadurai_The_Thing_Itself.pdf

Vintage Ephemera: Christmas Cards

They do not make cards like this anymore. . . they are utterly beguiling in simplicity and color.

Simple graphics in this Art Deco Era card are extraordinary – and the typography is striking. The message, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, comes to life.

IMG_9471 img006


Guardian Angels

Icons. From the early days of organized religion in the western world, the subject of icons raised considerable debate. Nope, not going to go into the theological debate here. But, for some of us, the religious icon holds a place in our hearts. As any other work of art, icons evoke emotion but also, they serve to instruct. Times change though, so looking at icons today is different than, say, one hundred years ago because we look at the world a little differently.

Guardian Angel at Eclipse
Guardian Angel at Eclipse

Looking at this image of the guardian angel, for instance. When I was a kid, I believed that there was indeed a  guardian angel watching over me. Really believed. I even resisted doing things if I thought my guardian angel would not approve. I remember talking to her as well.  All in all, my guardian angel was a comfort to me, until I was in high school. This guardian angel is peaceful and the scene is bucolic. Until we look closer and see the children are very very close to the edge of the precipice.

Guardian Angel, Detail
Guardian Angel, Detail

Most parents in today’s world would not feel comforted knowing that a guardian angel stood between their children and the edge of and cliff. Most children today do not know about guardian angels. Well, the most that I can say is that my grandchildren do not know about guardian angels. I suppose it is pretty old school to believe that a spirit world is here on earth interceding for us and protecting us in our everyday life. Very old school . . .

In researching this image, I failed to find the artist (If you know let me know!). But I did find a website devoted to Holy Cards – and they are exquisite! Guardian Angel engraving npThe notion of guardian angels is an old one. As one example, in the seventeenth century, Francis de Sales addressed his followers, “Make yourself familiar with the Angels, and behold them frequently in spirit. without being seen, they are present with you.”  Thomas Aquinas who wrote the Summa Theologica, you might say, had two feet on the ground – he wrote philosophical tracts and if not for his timely death certainly would have been excommunicated because he followed Aristotle. But still, he believed that guardian angels served to instruct us on our journey through life.

There was a survey in Britain about guardian angels – the question posed, Do you believe in guardian angels? Not surprisingly, most of those who responded did not. I love the idea of a guardian angel but do I really believe there are guardian angels? Not in the same way as I did when I was a child. But I really like the idea . . . .

The print reminds me of this beautiful idea – true or not. The print is soft and lovely and comforting to think about . . . even in the midst of the craziness of the Flea Market where I found it!