A Queen Victoria, Empress of India Jubilee commemoration 'moustache cup' and saucer



A Queen Victoria, Empress of India Jubilee commemoration 'moustache cup' and saucer


A Nice Cup of Tea


‘Moustache cups’ were invented in the 1860s by a Staffordshire potter called Harvey Adams. Designed with a ‘secret’ ledge to protect the moustache, the cups became so popular in Britain and America that Adams was able to retire within 15 years, his fortune made.

‘Empress of India’
Queen Victoria had been proclaimed ‘Empress of India’ in 1877. The British Crown had taken total control of India in 1858, after the attempted overthrow of British East India Company authorities led by soldiers of the Bengal army, in the First War of Independence (also known as the ‘Mutiny’) of 1857. Thousands of Indians were killed as the British fought to retain control of their valuable Empire.

Moustaches and Manliness
Moustaches had become popular in Britain largely due to Britain’s wars overseas. Seeing men in India with facial hair made the British leaders decide that moustaches would give their soldiers an air of masculine authority. Moustaches were compulsory in the British East India Company’s Bombay Army from 1854, and this spread to the rest of the army in the following years. This rule was relaxed during the First World War, 1914-1918, when the army realised that moustaches might not fit within gas masks issued in the trenches.

This cup is part of the 'A Nice Cup of Tea' handling collection held at the Museum of Oxford and collected through the 'A Nice Cup of Tea' project.


A Nice Cup of Tea project, with Mimi Goodall, Elisabeth Grass, and photographer Fran Monks


Museum of Oxford




Angeli Vaid and Myfanwy Lloyd, oxfordartsconsultants.co.uk


A Nice Cup of Tea Project, Fran Monks

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