Listening Post: A bunch of mugs

The NCPR mug museum

We’ve been adding a few historical items to our new Facebook timeline, so my eye was drawn to an item I walk past many times a day without noticing. In Membership Director June Peoples’ office is a kind of mug museum, featuring the (if not iconic, at least logo-bearing) mugs  that NCPR has had made over the years. Three decades and three different generations of station logo are represented.

As with all good museum displays, the interesting part is what it says about the culture over the course of time. The older mugs up top are all from a simpler era, of modest size and four-square, except for the “Road Warrior” model, made so bottom-heavy you could wear it for a hat and still not spill a drop. Our post 9-11 era latte mug is the size of a sap bucket and is midnight black, suited to grim times and round-the-clock news consumption. As the “oughts” wore on, we turned hyperlocal, featuring artists of the region, then locavore, with a terra cotta flower pot mug that could hold a planting season’s supply of “mud.”

Next came the bistro phase, elegant rising shapes designed to hold, one supposes, the favorite locally-roasted, fairly-traded organic blends. Then a retro move back to manly no-nonsense styles, followed by an arty outlier, a trompe l’oeil paper-cup travel mug, rendered in insulated stoneware with a silicone top. And finally we come to this year’s offering–a favorite of mine–a plain old-fashioned china diner mug, thick walled  for leisurely consumption, and so sturdy you could drop it off the roof. It’s a practical pick for a down economy, but sporting an optimistic fireball red glaze.

I may be reading too much into this, but then I do most of my reading with a half-full mug somewhere nearby. Whatever your style of cup or coffee (you can even drink tea if you must)–I hope you take it with a little radio on the side.


5 Comments on “Listening Post: A bunch of mugs”

  1. I know I have several of those mugs in our shop. The guys know better than to steal them…
    The big blue one is mine and mine alone!

  2. Rolene O'Brien says:

    A look inside my kitchen cupboard tells a similar story: mugs bearing logos of favorite convenience stores, Dunkin Donuts, sports teams, holidays, seasons, museums, locations, even family faces. In other places throughout the house, mugs with broken handles and/or chips now serving up things other than coffee: pencils, pens, rubber bands, clips.

  3. Jane Fernandes says:

    Great description of all the mugs! Wish I had more of them than I do!

  4. christie says:

    Ireland has many doors, but NCPR has many mugs. Hmm…poster idea? I would buy one!

  5. Joseph Smith says:

    My wife and I passed through a going-out-of-business antique shop in New Oxford, PA several years ago. The cashier was giving away mugs from a shelf of hundreds. One rack ranged many years of one family’s life. Mugs from places, anniversaries, social events and organizations from the mid-60s to 00s with a relatively new widows’ group mug (maybe the final addition). Their whole life, in mugs, parceled out to anyone for the asking. One of them is now with us, a recycled souvenir of that time and place in our lives.

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