This is my favorite cup.
There are no two ways about it, I love this cup. Coffee tastes better in it than in any other receptacle on the face of the earth. Tea isn’t ‘just’ tea, but something about this particular ceramic and diameter of surface air exposure makes any steeped blend taste sweeter and brighter. The cup itself is small and holds under 8 ounces, in my opinion (lab tested and certified) the perfect amount you can drink before a liquid has cooled too much to be perfect. It is substantial in the hand, yet not heavy. It takes a microwave hit like a champ and yet the fingerholds don’t threaten to leave 4th degree burns. The authentic 60s design is kitschy yet homey. The stackable shape is truly retro modern, not Retro Moderne a la Cost Plus.
But maybe best of all this cup has been in my family for as long as I remember, first owned by my mom and dad (purchased new in the 60s), and then a long-time resident of my dad’s kitchen. By the time he moved from his apartment to assisted living, the collection of cups – however many were first brought home – had dwindled to two. Friends forever. A perfect pair. They came to live at my house.
For years they were my own personal Coffee Mates. Until a few years ago when I broke one. That was a very sad day. Reduced to one lonely, solitary, perfect cup, I began an informal, on-again / off-again search for more. I didn’t have much to go on; the only imprint on the cup was the letters U S A stamped into the bottom.
After some eBaying, I learned that these were manufactured mostly in the 60s by American Pottery. I found similarly shaped cups, obviously confirming the maker. But I never found another cup with the same cheery, checkered brown daisies. Fire King? Yes. Anchor Hocking? Everywhere. USA Pottery? Negative.
Fast-forward four or five years to a day back in October (2011) that was remarkably sucky.
I’d gotten bad news all day, was tired from not sleeping the night before, and a million other things that all added up to a Real Bad Day. Coming home in the afternoon from a round of errands, I found a box on the front stoop. Grumpily I grabbed it up and stomped indoors with it. It wasn’t until much later that evening that I remembered to open it.
In the manifest deepness of my grump, I had completely forgotten what was in store for me:
As I opened the box, the realization hit me: Cups!!!
I’d finally found them… on Etsy of all places. Which, when you think about it, made sense. Cute? Check. Vintage? Check. Etsy? CHECK!!
As you can see, the lovely Kathi at 5gardenias (go there! buy stuff!) did a wonderful job packaging the cups for their journey across the country. But even through the layers of bubble wrap I could tell that something was wrong.
Kathi had more than one set of cups available in her shop. The ones she sent were obviously wrong: too dark, and it looked like they had a paisley pattern of some type on them. I was sad.
But then as I removed the bubble wrap, the world brightened once again! It was just tissue! Cute tissue!
I unwrapped and unwrapped. Soon I had a Consummate V of vintage coffee cup power! WOO!!!
And Kathi didn’t stop there. Every single thing about her order was done with style, class, and an eye toward detail. Everything was wrapped meticulously. The tissue pattern and accoutrements were perfectly and charmingly matched.
And like the best of shop owners, she threw in a little extra surprise. For me: Vintage resin buttons.
I haven’t been able to bring myself to use them yet. The darling twine bow, tags, and little wax-paper bag of buttons now sits in a place of honor on my design board in the craft room. Every time I look at it, I think about how a little extra sassy cuteness can go a long, long way to change the entire tenor and outlook of a person’s day. Thank you for that, Kathi.
But you know what’s even better than a twee little wax-paper packet of vintage buttons?
I have six cups.