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This occupational shaving mug showing an early scene of the game of basketball is one of the rarest of all sports mugs: The only other known specimen we're aware of brought over $17,000 at auction a few years back. Occupational shaving mugs date back to the 1870s and enjoyed immense popularity until the 1920s. The mugs were kept at barbershops and at home and were seen as a status symbol, as they usually depicted the owner's profession. Barbers would also proudly display them in their shops, with more mugs meaning a larger clientele. The mugs were typically shipped in blank from France and Germany and then hand-painted in the United States, and this one seems to follow that pattern, as it is hand-painted. The scene shows basketball in its most nascent stages. The players are in unusual uniform, more reminiscent of a jockey than a basketball player, and are standing in front of large, free-falling nets in a gymnasium with one player holding a ball. This depiction is probably from a time before people even knew what the game was, in the immediate wake of James Naismith inventing the game at the Springfield YMCA. Adding to the allure of this piece is the name George Traphagen that appears above the basketball illustration, who is believed to be a part of the prominent Traphagen family. This is a truly one-of-a-kind offering.
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