Design for a shaving-mug

Design patents are a different breed. A utility patent, which most of the patents I write about are, protects a new new or improved – and useful – product, process, or machine. A design patent, on the other hand, covers any any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Designs like Herman Griebel’s design for a shaving-mug, which he got a 3½ years design patent for in November of 1882.

Design patents usually have a shorter and more understandable patent text. Less legalese, easier to read. Like the design patent for the King Oscillator, which basically reads “See drawing”.

Herman Gribel wrote a little more than that. Still short enough that I can quote his patent for the design for a shaving-mug in full. But first, the patent engraving.

Herman Griebel's design for a shaving-mug
Herman Griebel’s design for a shaving-mug, US design patent 13,403

To all whom vit may concern:

Be it known that I, HERMAN GRIEBEL, a citizen of the United States, residing at Chicago, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented and produced a new and original Design for Shaving-Mugs, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, and to the letters of reference marked thereon, which form a part of this specification.

The engraving shows a. shaving-mug having my design.

The leading features of my design are a knotted ribbon, two branches of leaves passed vertically through such knot. with their upper ends curved in opposite directions, and two tulip-shaped cups extending from the sides of such knot, out of which grow branches of forget-me-not flowers.

A is the shaving mug, which is of the usual shape, of white porcelain, with a tinted white border around its upper portions and gilded stripes around its upper and lower rims and around the lower edge of the tinted border. Upon the face of this cup is painted a red ribbon, a, that is knotted to form an upward double loop, and has pending ends. Two branches of leaves, b, are shown as passed vertically through such knot, with their upper ends curved in opposite directions. Tulip-shaped gilded cups c are represented as being tied with their stems in the knot of the ribbon and extending sidewise in a downward curve, and two branches, d, of forget-me-not flowers extend from the cups c at each side to the handle e.

What, I claim is —

The design for a shaving-mug, herein shown and described, the same consisting in the painting of a looped and knotted ribbon, a, of two branches of leaves, b, of the tulip-shaped cups c, and of the branches of forget-me-not flowers d, all arranged substantially as described and shown.

In testimony that I claim the foregoing as my design I affix my signature in presence of two witnesses.


From US Design Patent 13,403

Granted, part of the reason Herman’s design patent is so long is that he repeats himself. Not once, but twice.

But that means we’re very sure how his new and original design for a shaving mug looked like. We know it had a painting of a looped and knotted ribbon, into which two branches with leaves passed vertically, a pair of gilded tulip-shaped cps, and two branches of forget-me-not flowers.

Sounds kind of twee and cute, to be honest. In an old fashioned way, which is to be expected when the original patent is one hundred and forty one years old.

You can read the full patent at Google Patents.

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