Grab Your Scuttle Mug and Lather up!

No, I’m not talking about your favorite java in the shower.


Scuttle mugs were a popular item in the mid to late 1800’s. Scuttle mugs were actually used to lather a glycerin-based soap with a badger or horse hair brush for shaving… and they looked like the old-time coal scuttles. Hence the name “scuttle mug”.


Coal Bucket

Antique Coal Scuttle

old shave mug

Antique Scuttle Mug



In the early 1900’s, before the Great Depression, these “shave” mugs were commonly used at barbershops, where men would purchase a mug for use at home or the barbershop that they frequented. This would be similar to leaving your set of chopsticks on the wall of your favorite Japanese sushi restaurant for use each time you came in. These looked more like a traditional mug and could be personalized with your name or an image of your occupation. Shave mugs were used until the introduction of a shave cream that could be purchased in a tube. I found a fun article by a colleague that I would like to share with you.


Rhyme Time

Does this bring back any memories? If it does…your age is showing (but your whiskers probably aren’t.)

What well-known soap, could shave your chin and leave you with a hairless grin?

It advertised in ’26 with roadside signs on top of sticks. …Burma Shave!

Burma Shave was revolutionary…a brushless shaving soap that could be slathered onto the face by hand. Remarkable!

Even more remarkable were the Burma Shave signs that dotted the nation’s highways and byways for nearly 40 years. The familiar white on red signs, grouped by four, fives and sixes, were as much a part of a family trip as the kids asking “Are we there yet?”

At their height of popularity there were 7,000 Burma-Shave signs stretching across the country.

Burma Shave ads first appeared in 1926, when Americans were taking leisurely drives on country roads. By the 1950’s however, the “need for speed” meant faster cars and faster speeds…and no time to read.

In 1963, the American Safety Razor company bought out Burma Shave and the last ads disappeared from the road.

As time goes by, and memories cave, We wont’ forget you… Burma Shave!

The Burma Shave company sponsored an annual contest for people to submit the rhymes with winners receiving a $100 prize. (Sure beats paying a copywriter!) Some contests received over 50,000 entries. 

This story is an excerpt from my colleagues’ book: “Betcha Didn’t Know That! 101 Antiques and Collectibles Trivia Tips That Can Make You Rich, Famous and Hit of the Party, Volume One” by Leon Castner and Brian Kathenes. Learn more at:


Musician Tom Waits even recorded a song called “Burma Shave”!  

scuttle mugs

Antique Shave Mugs

Values can range from several dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the desirability of the image and of course its condition. As with most antiques, you need to be aware of reproductions which can significantly reduce the value.


Do you have one of these or other contents that you would like to find out about? Contact Emerald Art Services LLC TODAY for a “walk-thru” consultation on your personal property, antiques, art and wine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.