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The revival of a vital British tradition

Proof that an everyday object can be a thing of beauty

The revival of a vital British tradition

January 17 2012
Anna-Marie Solowij

I was originally given a Liberty Year Mug in 2000 as a Christmas present, and, apart from a three-year hiatus between 2008 and 2010 when none were produced (the firm was under new management), I have received one as a gift every year since then from a variety of friends who know I’m a keen collector. The mugs have pride of place on my Vitsoe shelving. I’m also building the collection, adding in vintage mugs which I find at antiques fairs and collectors’ fairs and from that other source of decorative objects that need frequent dusting, eBay.

Since their renaissance in 2011, the mugs have been made of fine bone china, but prior to this the Staffordshire firm Adams, which launched the tradition in 1975 (followed by Poole Pottery in 1998 and Mason’s in 2005, with a random 1975-79 commemorative mug by Burleigh), turned them out in serviceable earthenware. Decorated with Liberty archive designs of flowers, exotic birds and oriental patterns on a background of the old Liberty trademark duck-egg blue, the mugs prove that an everyday object can be a thing of beauty – and collectable, too.

I like to think that I had a hand in the revival of the Year Mug. When the charismatic American Ed Burstell took over as Liberty’s buying director (he’s now the MD), I had the pleasure of meeting him and followed this up with a note pleading for the return of the Year Mug. It took a year, but Ed delivered – thank you – and this important tradition was reinstated.

Liberty Year Mug 2012, £19.95.

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