One of the first majolica collections I ever saw was a collection of majolica mustache cups. I had never heard of majolica mustache cups before and this collection was just so cool!In the years since then I have bought and sold many mustache cups and have become aware of how rare these can be. As you might expect, men seem to be the main collectors of this Victorian sub specialty. I've actually never met a woman who cared for them except as a gift for a male friend or relation.
Mustache or moustache cups, for those who are not familiar with them, are a specific type of coffee or tea cup with a special guard to protect a gentleman's mustache from being soiled. They were invented by a British potter, Harvey Adams in the 1860's, but they were actually more popular on the continent than in Great Britain.
They must have been quite a popular novelty in their day though because it appears most major majolica makers made them.
This novelty crossed the pond and found a home at the Etruscan Works as well. The majolica Shell mustache cup has long been one of the most sought after pieces in this wonderful series.
For more on mustache cups pick up collector Glen Erardi's book on the subject, Mustache Cups: Timeless Victorian Treasures from Schiffer.