Inside the Collections Care Project: Moving children’s mugs

Aug 1, 2014

Historic New England’s collection services team is several weeks into the Collections Care Project, a move of approximately 20,000 objects within our facility in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Thus far our focus has been on inventorying and moving ceramic objects such as plates, pitchers, teacups, and jugs.

Pictured here is a children’s mug we moved recently. Historic New England has an extensive collection of children’s mugs. In fact, more than 1,200 were bequeathed by one collector.

As you might guess from this charming example featuring the image of a bear, the mugs are a favorite among groups touring storage (and staff). The mugs include sayings such as “Now that I own a cow and a sheep, everyone bids me good morning” and “For loving books” as well as children’s names, the alphabet, birds, animals, and many maxims urging children to be good, thrifty, and obedient. The mugs were given to children for good behavior at school or at home, or if they needed to learn a lesson.   

Volunteer Cathy Breitkreutz has been working with the mug collection for more than two years, carefully updating individual records and photographing each mug. When Cathy’s work is complete, the entire collection will be available through Historic New England’s Collections Access portal.

Stay tuned for next week’s fascinating object. Support the preservation of Historic New England’s one-of-a-kind collection with a gift to the Collections and Conservation Fund.