These sweet vintage Santa mugs are becoming quite collectible!
When I was a growing up, we had a favorite Christmas tradition. Every Christmas Eve my mother would make a large pot of hot chocolate and we would drink it out of sweet little Santa mugs. Over the years, those mugs became chipped and worn, and eventually we stopped using them. When I married and had a child of my own, my mother passed those mugs to me, and all these years later, I still cherish them. I can never see one of these iconic mid century cups without them evoking sweet Christmas memories.
Over the years, I’ve added to my collection, picking up these old cups at flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores. Along the way, I’ve added pitchers and miniature size cups as well.
They were usually found at very inexpensive prices, but recently the prices have started to increase as more and more people collect them.
A few weeks ago, I added another Santa cup and an old vintage pitcher to my collection and it got me wondering what the history of these iconic Santa mugs.
I know many of you have seen these Santa mugs, and probably more than a few of you actually have some in your cabinet. Well, it just might be time to take those vintage Santa mugs out of storage!
It appears that these adorable vintage Santa mugs have become quite collectible in a big way, and apparently not just during the Christmas season. Newer versions of the classic design are popping up in major retailers, offering an opportunity to start your own tradition of serving hot chocolate in them on Christmas Eve to your children and grandchildren.
The original vintage Santa themed mugs and dishes were first introduced back in 1949. That’s when Grant Holt, Robert Howard, and John Howard started the Holt-Howard Co. with a $9,000 loan from their families. They launched their company with a line of Christmas table decor, selling it through department stores and catalogues.
Today, if you find one of the original mugs, you can identify it very easily. Most Holt-Howard products are hallmarked with a clear date and copyright. You may also find one with a foil label reading “HH Japan”, because some of the production was moved to Japan in the mid 1950’s. The founders left the company in the 1970’s, and the company completely closed in 1990.
The Santa mugs were mass produced in the mid century, so it’s not too difficult to find them in thrift stores, flea markets, and estate sales. Especially during the holiday season.
There’s something so nostalgic about these vintage Santa mugs with the tail of Santa’s hat twisted into a handle and his jolly, twinkling smile.
My collection started with the set of cups and pitcher passed down from my mother, and mine isn’t a large collection, but each year I add a few pieces if I find them at a good price.
Every Christmas, I pull out my small collection and display it in different ways. This year I displayed it in the antique French Vaisselier in the breakfast room, mixed among my vintage ironstone typography collection. Vintage bottle brush trees look so cute displayed inside these charming old mugs.
I love the miniature Santa mugs but never knew what they were used for, but recently I found out that they were used as shot glasses, and were often given as party favors!
I have such fond memories of what these vintage Santa mugs represent for me as a child. I guess that’s why I love this collection so much and why I add to it every year. They make me recall Christmases of long ago. They are a link to my past and evoke such fond memories.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my whimsical collection of Santa mugs. Maybe I’ve inspired you to start your own?
I want to wish each and every one of you a blessed Merry Christmas!