Mugs: A hobby, obsession or neither?

I think I’m becoming a mug anorak.

The other day I opened the cupboard at home where all the drinking vessels live and for the first time I noticed that a significant proportion of them were not part of the communal horde but were in fact mine. 

A mismatched, odd set of various types (tin and ceramic), sizes (small, average or large cause sometimes you need a large dose of coffee, tea or soup for that matter) and colours that I have accumulated either bought or gifted from here, there and everywhere. Now that is very out of character for me as I am a person who likes symmetry, evenness and balance. I normally start to develop a nervous tick or get fidgety when things don’t match.

Positive uplifting messages, my favourite cats (including Sam Has Eyebrows in two colours and my own – yes I have a mug with her picture on it), Jane Austen novels, Old Adelaide Gaol (no I wasn’t incarcerated there but enjoyed a visit), ‘You Don’t Have To Be Crazy To Work Here But It Helps’ (ain’t that the truth), and a Wellington themed lime green Starbucks porridge holder (the porridge bit is my idea) all feature and this is without doing a proper inventory.

And at one stage I even had a mini collection of One Direction mugs (4 designs with 2 of each) but these have since been happily rehomed all over the world! 

My current favourite is a beauty I picked up at a local shop, well in Petone (a superb of Wellington) that sells items imported from the UK. Biscuits, lollies, gravy’s, toothpaste, crisps – you name it, they have it, including various novelty mugs. I stood there for quite some time trying to decide between the Union Jack adorned specimen (it was pretty cool), a double decker bus emblazoned example and ‘Take Life One Cup At A Time’ (SPOILER: that’s the one I chose).

So this leads me to wondering if I should try and make a real go of it and start collecting properly instead of this dabbling. I reckon it would be a lot of fun. But thinking about it, such a hobby does present some issues.

Well such as?

If you are travelling (that requires airplanes to move about and eventually find your way home) and see a mug that takes your fancy how does one get it back to your place of residence in a condition in which it can still hold liquid? Take a chance with the mail service and post it home? Hand on my heart I would say no. Imagine the disappointment of opening your package to find your lovely mug in pieces. Or you could carry it around with you on your journey in your luggage? Now mugs are neither lite nor small relatively speaking (especially if you pack them correctly to avoid breakages which if you are anything like me means wrapped in several layers of tea towels and with socks stuffed inside) and space is limited if you are only taking carry on. Do you really want to lug it all over the world? So this can pose problems. 

And what about housing and displaying them once they have settled into their new abode (assuming you got them there ok)? Hooks? A rack? A shelf? A customized wall unit? A safe made of the highest grade reinforced steel? Whatever you choose has to be sturdy to prevent accidents. The heartbreak experienced if your prized collection ended up scattered all over your floor in a million pieces would be very real indeed. And the more elaborate you get, the greater the cost. Honestly the decisions to be made are endless. 

But perhaps we should take a step back and address the question of purpose. Namely – is your collection purely for display (non-functional) or are you going to use them for … well … the drinking of beverages of various types? Whatever the answer, it will ultimately dictate the direction taken above. 

Crikey! Who would have thought that the simple act of collecting mugs would be such an involved and complicated past time. 

Or I could simply be overthinking the whole thing.

But that did get me wondering what other people did and, in fact, how popular is it as a hobby. Well, go to YouTube and search by ‘mug collections’ and you will be presented with quite a long list of folks happily talking (at length) about their collections and joyfully presenting their favourites. I could’ve watched for hours – it was that engrossing. 

Now like me I know you are asking yourself the next logical question of just who has the world’s largest collection of mugs. So I asked Mr Google because let’s face it, it’s the easiest thing to do. According to an entry under the Guinness World Records a Mr Bob Thomson of the United States has that honour with 6352 mugs owned (as of 2006). But more searching unearthed a listing for a Mr Charles Hubbell of Tennessee who (as of late 2012) reportedly has over 19,000 cups. But cups (and I don’t want to start a hullabaloo over this), strictly speaking, are not the same as mugs. I’ll reserve judgement on that one.

So really I am just in my collecting infancy. A baby that has a long way to go to be able to eat at the big people table. A mere toddler in the grown up world of accumulating a chosen item. An extra small, teeny tiny anorak. An acorn rather than a mighty oak. You get the drift.

But you know what? That’s not going to put me off. Onwards and upwards I will go with my collecting and let’s see where it takes me! Cheers!

(Image: Emre Can)