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Brief History of Cider Mugs

The Cider Mug

There are several stories relating to the origin of mugs having two or more handles. The story’s detail and location vary, but one thing is for sure the multiple-handled mug has been around for centuries. But why do we associate it with cider?

We should look to the wassail bowl as well as the two handled loving cup for its origin as both vessels represent ancient pagan and Christian rituals creating customs and traditions intrinsically linked with orchards and cider. They would pass from one to another, handle to handle, wishing good health and hope for a successful harvest. Containing cider, spices, apple and toast, the drinking was very much a convivial and communal activity.

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At the beginning of the 19th century pottery began to replace pewter in the manufacture of drinking vessels. It was the ‘trophy’ shape of the loving cup that the potteries began to emulate, decorated with a tin glaze and either hand painted or transfer printed.  By the 1850s, particularly in the south west of England, earthenware mugs and jugs took the place of pewter in the pubs and cider houses and is probably the main reason why we associate the two-handled pottery mug with cider drinking.

 

Kate Wilson.