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Early Ceramic Hires Root Beer Mug

  • Image 1
  • Image 2
  • Shows the hair line crack on the top arch of the handle
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  • Reprint of "Jingle Jokes for Little Folks" c1901 (cover)
  • Reprint of "Jingle Jokes for Little Folks" c1901 (page1 of 12)
SOLD! 8-4-17
2.00 LBS

Product Description

Early Ceramic Hires Root Beer Mug

Item Description:

Antique one pound ceramic Hires Root Beer mug, made in 1907, in Germany by the Villeroy and Boch Co. for the Charles E. Hires Company. The color is bone with the famous Hires Rootbeer icon dating to the 1890's of the colorful picture of a little boy, holding a mug of Hires Root Beer, with his finger pointing upward toward the slogan 'Drink Hires Rootbeer.' 

The mug is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks with only minor crazing in the clear coat glaze around the top rim, bottom rim, and interior bottom. It has ahair line crack in the glaze on the top arch of the handle (shown in the photos).  The bottom is engraved with ware #3095 and marked Villeroy & Boch Mettlach with the date stamp of 1907, and the liquid capacity of "IV", or 1/4 of a liter. This mug will make a wonderful addition to any advertising, mug or soda collection. 

Makers Mark:
Villeroy and Boch Company The "Mercury Mark", usually stamped in green but also known in blue and black, shows (from the top) the head of Mercury with a winged cap, two caducei or snake-entwined staffs, a banner or placard with the name "VILLEROY & BOCH", and a fancy semicircular banner bearing the factory name. This mark was also applied by hand, but stamped rather than incised. It was commonly used for marking PUG ("Paint Under Glaze") items. IV code signals for 1/4 on a liter capacity, the "07" is the date code for 1907, and the "33" is referred to as a quality control mark, signifying the employee who put the hand finishing details on the item.

Included in this sale is a reprint of an 1901 Hires advertising booklet  "Jingle Jokes for Little Folks" - see below for details.

Also be sure to see our early Hires Syrup Dispenser - We will be happy to do a package price for our entire Hires collection. If interested, please contact us!


The Charles E Hires Company was established in 1890, and in addition to the powder, began selling the product in convenient pre-mixed bottles in 1893. Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires originally called his beverage "root tea", but was convinced by a friend that it would sell better in his local area -- Pennsylvania's hard-drinking Cumberland County -- if he called it "root beer". Hires's choice of name for his product caused a problem: the word "beer" drew the wrath of the temperance movement[citation needed]. He had his root beer tested by a laboratory, and trumpeted their conclusion that a glass of his root beer contained less alcohol than a loaf of bread. Hires Root Beer was promoted as "The Temperance Drink" and "the Greatest Health-Giving Beverage in the World." Hires advertised aggressively, believing "doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody ELSE does."

jinglejokes2.jpgHires's also understood, very well, the value and benefit in aiming his marketing to the younger demographic. Included in this sale is a reprint of "Jingle Jokes for Little Folkes" c1901 (cover pictured to the left). A Hires Rootbeer advertising booklet aimed at children and health conscience parents, it is 12 pages and has fun little rhymes showing the fun, and "health benefits" of drinking Hires Rootbeer. The book was based on the popular Jingle Jokes for Little Folks series made popular in the 1880's. We have an original copy of this book as well, but it is missing the cover page (which would be 4 of the 12 pages (Front:front/back & Rear:front/back), so since it is not complete, we will include the re-print instead.

The boy image on the mug, and similar images, were first used in print advertising the late 1880's and into the 1900's. 


Hires made root beer famous, and root beer made Hires a millionaire, but it is an exaggeration to credit him with inventing the drink. He reportedly first tasted something quite similar to root beer in a restaurant in 1875, and obtained the recipe from the proprietor -- who had in turn based her recipe on long-standing folk recipes for beverages brewed from all manner or roots, bark, and herbs. Hires worked in his laboratory to improve the flavor of the concoction, then reduced it to a powdery concentrate that could be mixed in drug stores to make large quantities of the drink, just by adding water, sugar, and yeast. He also had the idea of serving his beverage cold, instead of hot.

Hires himself remained active in the business until his son took the reins in 1925. His mother, Mary Williams Hires, was said to be a direct descendant of Martha Washington, from her first marriage to Daniel Parke Custis. His uncle, George Hires, was a U.S. Congressman representing New Jersey's First District from 1885 to 1889.

Father: John Hires (farmer)
Mother: Mary Williams Hires
Brother: Frank Hires
Wife: Clara Kate Smith (b. 1852, d. 1910)
Son: Charles Hires Jr (President of Hires Company)
Son: Harrison Hires (poet)
Son: John Edgar Hires (engineer)
Daughter: Linda Hires (architect)
Daughter: Clara Hires (botanist)
Wife: Emma Waln (school teacher)

Consolidated Foods bought the company from the Hires family in 1960, only to sell Hires two years later to Crush International (previously known as the Orange Crush Co). Procter & Gamble bought Crush in 1980, and sold it to Cadbury Schweppes in 1989. Cadbury spun off its soft drinks arm in 2008, and the beverage company renamed itself Dr Pepper Snapple Group that year.

History of the ManufacturerVilleroy and Boch Company - Mettlach, Germany

Mettlach is a small village on the Saar River in what is now the far western part of Germany, near both Luxembourg and France. Although the ceramic products made there were produced by the Villeroy and Boch Company (V&B), they have commonly been called Mettlach wares. Apparent­ly, this was done for two reasons: (1) to avoid confusion with the very different products made at the eight V&B factories in other cities, and (2) because the name Mettlach dominates the important incised old tower or castle trademark used by the Mettlach factory.

The golden age of Mettlach lasted from approximately 1880 to 1910. During that time, using guarded secret techniques, the etched, glaz­ed, cameo, and phanolith wares were at the pinnacle of their production. New design lines and an explosion of color were introduced into the production of the Mettlach items. An extensive display at the 1885 Ant­werp World’s Fair propelled Mettlach to the forefront of the ceramics field. Production quantities con­tinued to grow until at its height the Mettlach plant employed about 1,250 people.

About 1909, and certainly by the time of the First World War, business seems to have slackened off con­siderably. Researchers of this subject tend to blame un­favorable economic circumstances and a lack of skilled labor. In 1921, a great fire destroyed molds, production records, and formulas for the production processes and materials, including 30 colored clay slips, 150 under­glaze colors, and 176 colored hard glazes. From 1925 until the early 1930s, some etched and PUG (print under glaze) articles were again being produced at the Mettlach plant. Although the Mettlach factory continued to produce tiles, dishes, plumbing fixtures, and other wares, there was almost a fifty-year lapse before the manufacture of the steins and plaques was revived.


Thanks for looking, any questions, please ask!

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