Collecting (Things of Little or No Value): Mug Mania

Mug collecting—it is a mania that runs in my family. My sisters collect mugs, my mother collects mugs, my MOTHER-IN-LAW collects mugs, but I won’t write about those because they are Royal Dalton Tobies and actually have collector value!

My mother‘s mug collection is so large that she rotates them. She has a few boxes stashed in the basement that she exchanges with the ones in her cupboard from time to time. I think it is a clever way to enjoy an extensive collection, don’t you?

One of my sisters works in a lab. She used to scoop up the organ (the internal kind) mugs whenever the drug reps brought them in as freebies. She regularly sips her morning brew from a liver- or kidney-shaped mug. (This would put some people off their Wheaties, but we Kiefer gals are made of sterner stuff!)

I find most of my mugs in church basements and people’s garages during the saling season and in second hand and thrift stores during the colder months. (I enable my mom and sisters’ mug habits with my 10-cent finds from St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill.) I did break down and buy a beautiful brown transferware china mug with a Royal Palm turkey on it for 99 cents at the Hospice resale shop. I presented it to my mother as a Thanksgiving present.

One of my favorite finds came from a local church rummage sale.  Their garage sale isn’t the biggest, but it sure is interesting. You never know what will turn up. One year, I found the wall oven ($25) that will soon replace our present museum piece—another year, a wicker rooster and a collector plate of the Pilgrim Memorial Monument. The last great mug I found there was what we call “Beduin Tent,” a mug emblazoned with an image of Liberation Tower, “STATE OF KUWAIT” (in English and Arabic), and an oasis scene of a large, low tent; a mom camel with a baby camel nursing, a guy in native dress, two gals in burkas by what looks like a well with some clay jars nearby, and some folks off on distant dunes riding “ships of the desert.” Why endure the danger and expense of travel to distant locales when you can get it all on a commemorative mug (for 25 cents) from the basement of the Zwingli UCC?

The next time you run across a mug (or platter or tablecloth or lamp. . . . ) that speaks to your inner collector (of things of little or no value) don’t resist—especially if it is priced under a dollar! Begonia

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