We all must eat every day to survive, but most of us do not dwell on the mechanics of eating unless forced to do so. The importance of "the price of eggs in China" increases in earth-shattering gravity next to culinary fine points such as the difference between a shrimp fork and a salad fork (hint: count the number of tines on the fork). Whatever your opinions are concerning the necessity of such niceties of etiquette, no "civilized" home at the beginning of this century was quite complete without a mustache cup sitting on the dinner table.

Firstly, a gentleman does not shave with a mustache cup, although he could. It is not shaped like a mustache. Rather, a mustache cup is no more than an ordinary cup that is manufactured with a small dam across the bottom edge that prevents the beverage from wetting a gentleman's mustache. It could also prevent a "milk mustache" from forming in those who were clean-shaven. A smallish hole allows a controlled flow of liquid to the thirsty drinker without the emergency use of a napkin in polite company.

The cup comes, as you might expect, with a matching saucer. This motto is written in 23-karat letters: "A MUSTACHE MAKES A MAN. A RAZOR MAKES A MOUSE." Both pieces were produced by the Salem China Company, part of an extensive collection of formal flatware from Eva Blount Way's home. There are also numerous pieces of glassware. A large dinner table for six people is set and looks ready for a family dinner party.

Come and see this piece of history and others in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.


Belhaven Treasure #5

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998