We make our leather mugs mostly the way they were made hundreds of years ago. They are finished with beeswax to make them leak-proof. You can wash them with a bit of warm soapy water and then turn upside down on a paper towel to dry. Do not put hot liquids in your mug as the heat might cause the wax to shift rendering them less leak-proof. You can also use an insert such as a mason jar or red solo cup into your mug. Then, you don’t have to think about whether the beverage is hot or cold or bother with washing as often. Enjoy your handcrafted mug!
History of Leather Drinking mugs…
During the medieval and later Tudor periods leather mugs became popular even though they were in use much earlier in history
Leather is mainly worked wet so that it can be shaped. When air dried it becomes what is known as jack leather and medieval leather vessels therefore became known as jacks until Nelson’s time when they were known as Boots, giving way to the phrase “Fill up your Boots” or “have a drink”.
Leather mugs were used more recently in the mining and steel industries, where copious amounts of drinking water were necessary because of either the dusty or hot atmospheres. Mugs were crafted with bells or whistles on them to call the water boys. In the West Midlands steel mills Jacks were known as Piggins and had a whistle attached to the base of the handle which was blown to, again, attract the water boy. From the Piggin Whistle arose the popular pub name; nothing to do with animals!
Leather mugs were used throughout society with the main difference being that higher society mugs were highly decorated and the leather tooled with ornate designs. Leather drinking vessels were in use at the same time as glass, pewter and pottery. However, glass was excessively expensive, pewter ran a very close second and pottery easily broke. Leather was relatively cheap, available and strong and was therefore widely used. It was also quieter on the battle front and could be easily repaired.
Waterproofing was accomplished in several ways. During earlier times the skin side of the hide was turned to the inside of the vessel because it is that part of the leather which is most naturally waterproof. The outside would be the flesh side which would be rubbed with animal fat in earlier periods and later with either beeswax or boiled birch tree sap. In more modern times birch sap has been replaced with Brewers Pitch, a material used to caulk the old wooden beer barrels.
This posting was edited with credit to English Heritage Org UK
At Porter Custom we use only high quality bees wax to finish our mugs.