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Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

Article about: One seemingly difficult bit of British Empire kit to find is the "Mug, Enamel". These mugs were widely issued to troops all over the Empire and could hold one pint of fluid. They s

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    Default Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    One seemingly difficult bit of British Empire kit to find is the "Mug, Enamel". These mugs were widely issued to troops all over the Empire and could hold one pint of fluid. They seem to have been adopted during the Great War and were used into the postwar years.

    Below is a selection of these enameled mugs. From left to right, top to bottom: A British-made mug used from WWI to early WWII, An Australian-manufactured mug, a typical reproduction mug made in only 12 ounces, an Indian-made mug from 1944 and a pair of later war British-made brown mugs.

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    The white British-made mug with the blue rim and handle has its original label. It was made by Jury, a firm which made brown and green mugs later in the war. It also states that the mug is "acid proof". Note the three dots on the base, which is where the mug stood on a stand during the firing process to dry the enamel (thanks Ade for this one!).

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    This mug was made in the Commonwealth of Australia and features a 'Department of Defence' mark impressed into the metal on the bottom. I believe this mark was adopted some time in the Interwar years, so the mug was produced some time after this. From what I have seen, the Australian Army made these mugs in a variety of colors, opting for the more traditional white and blue design here.

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    The Government of India produced these mugs during the war and possibly earlier. This example is made in green enamel by Bengal Enamel in May of 1944. Note the soldered seem along the handle as well as the raised rim on the base.

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    Brown mugs were introduced during the Second World War (circa 1944) as they were less conspicuous than the old white enamel mugs. These did not tend to have markings during the war, though I have seen 1945 dates on late production examples. These mugs continued to be manufactured into the 1950s and are very similar in appearance. As a general rule, the wartime mugs are a darker shade of brown and have the aforementioned three dots discussed above. The two following examples are unmarked, but have a nice dark color and the dots from firing.

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

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    Great topic Karkee.

    Attached a pic I showed a while back. Aussie mug and cutlery with the D^D symbol and some unmarked plates which may not be military.

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    My Father told me of a 'game' played when he was a National Serviceman at Puckapunyal in the 1950's; they would line up for a brew with their enamel mugs held behind their backs and someone would try to smack the mug out of their hands with another mug. Is it any wonder so many of these are chipped LOL!

    Soldiers ... just cant trust them with valuable militaria!

    Oz.

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    Great information! Even though the modern mugs are smaller they are good for use in re-enactment, since there are no real alternatives and they are cheap and easy to get, unlike the original mugs.

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    Great post as ever. Here is my Indian made example:
    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire
    Sadly there are no markings on this one.
    This an example of the late war jungle mug which is lower but wider than the standard design:
    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire
    Compared to a standard pint mug:
    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire
    And the markings on the base:
    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire
    As you are probably aware the white and blue enamel was very common because blue enamel was the hardest wearing of the coloured enamel, but also the most expensive. it was thus cheaper to use the blue on areas which were prone to chipping and use cheaper white enamel on other areas that were less prone to damage.

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    Quote by Ubique View Post
    Great topic Karkee.

    Attached a pic I showed a while back. Aussie mug and cutlery with the D^D symbol and some unmarked plates which may not be military.

    Enamel Mugs of the British Empire

    My Father told me of a 'game' played when he was a National Serviceman at Puckapunyal in the 1950's; they would line up for a brew with their enamel mugs held behind their backs and someone would try to smack the mug out of their hands with another mug. Is it any wonder so many of these are chipped LOL!

    Soldiers ... just cant trust them with valuable militaria!

    Oz.
    Great Picture Ubique and I love the anecdote! haha

    That game would certainly explain why they seem to be so hard to find!

    Is you mug white or grayish blue?

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    Quote by earlymb View Post
    Great information! Even though the modern mugs are smaller they are good for use in re-enactment, since there are no real alternatives and they are cheap and easy to get, unlike the original mugs.
    That's true! I use a repro one for shaving soap, since it fits the disc-shaped soap perfectly!

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    Quote by Warspite View Post
    Great post as ever. Here is my Indian made example:

    Sadly there are no markings on this one.
    This an example of the late war jungle mug which is lower but wider than the standard design:

    Compared to a standard pint mug:

    And the markings on the base:

    As you are probably aware the white and blue enamel was very common because blue enamel was the hardest wearing of the coloured enamel, but also the most expensive. it was thus cheaper to use the blue on areas which were prone to chipping and use cheaper white enamel on other areas that were less prone to damage.
    Thanks for the additions Warspite! I actually didn't know that about the blue enamel, I thought it was just a style choice! I should have known that the British Army was more interested in economy! haha

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    Is you mug white or grayish blue?

    Its grey with a hint of blue, over a black layer. The D-D is actually the black under layer revealed. They may have used a water resistant stamp (liquid wax or something like that) to prevent the grey enamel taking to the stamp. I have done similar in pottery. Enamel is basically a pottery glaze except it fires at a lower temperature.

    Some of the D-D's were done as an over-stamp after the firing maybe using some sort of paint or ink and consequently wore off over time. I have seen D-D's that were worn almost invisible and only seen when angled to the light.

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    Quote by Ubique View Post
    Is you mug white or grayish blue?

    Its grey with a hint of blue, over a black layer. The D-D is actually the black under layer revealed. They may have used a water resistant stamp (liquid wax or something like that) to prevent the grey enamel taking to the stamp. I have done similar in pottery. Enamel is basically a pottery glaze except it fires at a lower temperature.

    Some of the D-D's were done as an over-stamp after the firing maybe using some sort of paint or ink and consequently wore off over time. I have seen D-D's that were worn almost invisible and only seen when angled to the light.
    Very interesting process, thanks for explaining! I'm certainly glad they took the time to make a permanent DD stamp on some of the mugs, as I would think most of the ink would wear off over time, as you describe. It's funny that these Australian mugs don't seem to have the three dots from the firing process like British mugs...

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    Great post, and very interesting! Even though it isn’t my cup of tea/interests, still a nice little collection all of you guys have there!

    Unteroffizer Klaus (Liam)

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