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Antiques Considered - July 28, 2010

Recently a young man bought this beer mug at an antique shop here in Virginia.  It is a shade of medium green, with matte finish, and has a keg or barrel shape to it.   On one side is embossed, "Happy Days Are Here Again", thereby helping us to date the piece quite accurately.  It is in excellent condition, and bears the mark,  "H" in a circle and the number 497.  
    This mug is easy to date.  The song, "Happy Days Are Here Again", was Franklin Roosevelt's theme song for his 1936 re-election campaign.  In all probability the mug was a campaign item.  From the texture and color it fits with the manufacture of Hull Pottery in the 1930s.  


    In 1905 Addis Hull purchased the Acme Pottery Co. of Crooksville, Ohio, which became Hull Pottery, and as such the business continued to operate until 1986.  To answer a question that I frequently receive, I am no relation to the pottery Hulls.
    Most interestingly of all, the tune, "Happy Days Are Here Again", also heralded the end of Prohibition, thus the symbolism of a beer mug celebrating the return of "happy days" is truly a double entendre.  People could be happy either about the return of alcohol or about the prospects of Roosevelt's forthcoming second term.
    The beer mug is worth $40.  It is a great political souvenir, and speaks the tenor of the time in which it first appeared on the scene.   Pottery of this nature was very popular during the Great Depression.  It came forth from the factories to meet the needs of the struggling lower middle class.  It had nice appearance and cost far less than similar porcelain items.
    I suggest not using it for beverage consumption without first ascertaining whether the matte glaze has any lead in its composition.  Lead was the common ingredient in nineteenth and early twentieth-century glazes, down into the 1950s.  None of such pieces should be used for food products as the glaze can chip and be ingested.  If this one does have a lead content in its make-up, put it in a cabinet or use it for display of cut flowers, but not for beverage consumption.
    A good source to learn more about Hull Pottery is WARMAN'S HULL POTTERY, by David Doyle, Krause Publications, Iola,
WI.
    Happy Antiquing!

Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
P.O. Box 35
Wicomico Church, VA 22579
(804) 580-3301

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