Collecting Vintage Santa Mugs

by | Dec 7, 2021 | Collecting | 8 comments

If you have been on social media recently, then you know collecting vintage Santa mugs is a hot topic. Each year, these mugs seem to grow in popularity. So, with that in mind, I wanted to share with you some tips on collecting these popular vintage items.

First, if you are inclined, please leave a comment on this post. Let me know if you collect these mugs and where you have had good luck finding them! When you comment on my blog posts, it helps my website grow.

vintage santa mugs
Vintage Santa Mugs. Photo: Sky Lark House

First, there are a wide variety of mugs available. All you need to do is search the phrase “vintage santa mug” on ebay or etsy and you will have a wide variety of mugs to choose from.

Here is a quick overview of things to keep in mind when you are deciding whether to purchase a mug or a set of mugs.

  • It’s preferable to buy them in a set. Particularly since many of the mugs in the set had a different facial expression. (For example in a set of four: 2 Santas might be winking, 1 with both eyes open, and 1 with both eyes shut.) Mugs were often available in sets of 4, 6 or 8. If you can find a complete set with the original box – then you have stumbled upon a great find!
  • There is a tremendous variety of mugs
  • Holt-Howard vintage Santa mugs are highly collectible
  • There are several ways to determine if you have an authentic vintage Santa mug

The Variety of Mugs

Vintage Santa Mugs. Photo: The Cotton Shed

First, it has to be said, there are A LOT of vintage Santa mugs out there. My preference for vintage Santa mugs are those that were made in the 1950s and 1960s. Although, mugs were made in the 1970s, 1980s and even 1990s. The photo above is from the Keri at the Cotton Shed and it clearly shows the many varieties of vintage Santa mugs. It also conveys that most of these mugs were sold in sets of 4, 6 or 8. Over time, mugs get separated or one of the mugs in the set will break. So, if you can find a complete set of mugs – then you have found a treasure.

Mini Vintage Santa Mugs

Collection Vintage Santa Mugs
Mini Santa Mug compared to a regular size mug. Photo: Sky Lark House

In addition to the many varieties of Santa mugs, there were also numerous sizes of mugs. The photo above shows how tiny the mini mugs can be in comparison to the usual size Santa mugs. It’s worth noting that it is increasingly difficult to find these mini “shot glass” style mugs. So, if you stumble across some when you are out hunting for antiques – snap them up!

Holt Howard Mugs

Holt Howard Santa mugs, produced in the 1950s and 1960s, are highly collectible. There is a good article on Holt Howard collectibles HERE. These mugs were made in the 1950s and 1960s. The photo above by Worth Point shows a collection of Holt Howard mugs with the matching punch bowl.
Holt Howard stamp. Photo: Worth Point

Of course, Holt Howard mugs come with their own stamp and identifying marks. The mug above clearly has the date and makers mark.

Holt Howard Mark. Photo: Worth Point

Sometimes, you will also find a Holt Howard piece that will simply be marked “H.H” as shown in the image above. If you come across a Holt Howard mug it will likely be reflected in the price. These mugs are consistently priced higher – sometimes twice as much- as other vintage Santa mugs.

Other Vintage Santa Mugs

Four vintage Santa Mugs
Vintage Santa Mugs. Photo: Sky Lark House

What if you have some Santa mugs but you aren’t sure if they are vintage? Perhaps you are certain they are not Holt Howard but you can’t determine their age. Here are a couple of things to look for.

Bottom of Santa mug stamped "Japan"
Mugs stamped “Japan” on the bottom are most certainly vintage. Photo: Sky Lark House

First, if you turn over the bottom of a mug, you might see that it is stamped “Japan” or “Made in Japan”. If that’s the case, then you have a vintage mug made in the 1950s-1960s.

These mugs were also made in Taiwan and Hong Kong. So, if you see these locations stamped on the bottom, then the chances are good that you have a vintage Santa mug.

Additionally, in lieu of a stamp, many mugs made in Japan have a small oval or rectangular paper or foil sticker that says “Made in Japan”. This sticker is also a good indicator that your mug was made in the 1950s-1960s.

Flaking paint is another trait or characteristic to look for when trying to determine the age of a Santa mug. Vintage mugs from the 1950s-1960s were painted by hand AFTER being taken out of the kiln. This means the paint was applied to the surface of the mug and was not fired into the clay. As a result, over time, the paint flakes off. This explains why so many vintage mugs have paint missing from the handles.

More information

As I did more research on these mugs, I found that Emily Baker from My Weathered Home, wrote a good blog post HERE . She also provides some links to some new but made to look vintage Santa mugs.

Liz Marie Galvin also wrote a good post in 2018 about new and vintage mugs which you can read HERE.

Diana Marie Home has a great post in 2020 and you can read her post HERE.

Finally, I haven’t written about collecting Santa mugs before, but I did write another post on collecting vintage Christmas ornaments HERE. You may find it interesting too.

Thank you for stopping by the blog today! Tis the season for collecting all the vintage things!

8 Comments

  1. Renee Brennan

    Very nice collection Anna!
    I started collecting the Santa mugs a couple years ago. Good tips! I didn’t know some where painted after glazing so that explains a lot. Mostly I buy for what his face expression is. Winking is my favorite!

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      Renee! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my post. I too love the winking Santa mugs and have a couple on the shelves in my kitchen.

      Reply
  2. Jerri

    Thanks for all the info Anna. I love collecting the all white ones. I’m guessing now that they were once painted. Great post!

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      Thank you Jerri! Yes, the all white vintage mugs are usually a result of all the cold paint chipping off.

      Reply
  3. Joy

    I don’t have a collection but do love Santa mugs so I’m always on the lookout for them. Thanks for this information!

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      You are welcome! They are fun to collect and not terribly costly!

      Reply
  4. Tammy Lewis

    I own 2 of these mugs from my childhood n also have 2 Santa’s on a chimney that I have kept over the yrs.The paint is coming off n they r turning yellow but I leave them alone as they r part of my childhood

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      Hi Tammy – Yes! Flaking paint is a sign of authenticity! I am so glad you continue to cherish them.

      Reply

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