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Mugs & Tankards

From Moorcroft mugs to stoneware steins, the field of antique and vintage mugs and tankards is an expansive one. Including any large cylindrical cup with a single handle, mugs and tankards can trace their origins to the Middle Ages.

Wooden drinking vessels in the 1200s were the first to be referred to as tankards, laying the foundation for the rich tradition that followed. These initial versions were not lidded, but the rise of sanitation concerns in the wake of the Black Death led to the innovation of the lidded mug. They were believed to be so effective in preventing the spread of disease that these covered tankards became mandatory in Germany by the early years of the 16th century.

At the same time, new materials were incorporated into tankard designs. Evolving from the initial wooden format, pewter and silver became customary alongside ceramic stoneware, which proved remarkably durable for such a well-used vessel. Mugs and tankards continue to be produced and enjoyed in the present day.

Quick Facts

  • The record for the world's largest pewter tankard goes to the Royal Selangor company, located in Setapak, Malaysia. The tankard weighs more than 3,400 pounds and can hold more than 94,000 fluid ounces
  • The glass bottom that is featured in many antique metal tankards bears different interpretations among experts. Some experts have suggested that the glass bottom allowed tavern-goers to avoid being duped
  • A pair of 17th century James II large silver tankards known as the "Brownlow Tankards" by English silversmith John Duck set a record for tankard sales at a Christie's auction in London. Featuring elaborate decorative motifs, the two vessels sold in 2000 for $1,423,145

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