Cool, Calm & Collected

136. U.M.S.A

I recently undertook a scouting mission to Aberystwyth, (twinned with Hinterland) mid-Wales and Mugspotters are excited to bring you the first of 2 quite stunning trade mugs. (Please check back soon, the second posting is imminent..)

Mug Numero Uno carries the good old “Keep Calm and (insert message here)” theme, which was so popular in World War 2 and for some reason again in 2013. This teasing, plunging Sparta implores us to ‘K C + Get Advice’.

Upon spinning it round it reveals what I first thought was ‘OUMSA’ which prompted a spontaneous outburst of the Ooompah-Loompah song but in fact the ‘O’ is a thought bubble.(Durr)
U.M.S.A. is the University (Of) Medways’ Student Association.
This particular function offers advice and support to students with ‘needs’ such as, but not limited to:

Visual impairments
Hearing impairments
Asperger’s Syndrome, ASD
Mobility difficulties and physical impairments
Medical conditions or chronic illness
Dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD or another Specific Learning Difficulty
Mental health concerns
Epilepsy or neurological conditions
Speech or communication difficulties
Temporary disabilities (e.g. broken wrist)
Eating disorders, anxiety, depression
Addictions to weird porcelain-centric trade artifact websites (OK I made that one up…)

There is a bristling 16-page PDF drifting round the internet packed with all the info you’ll ever need to know, although I must say I was angered and distressed that from a diversity and equality point of view, I couldn’t see that there was a braille or audio copy available!
Then I remembered, ‘Keep Calm’, so on went the kettle resulting in a nice relaxing beverage.

Epilogue: Do any of you remember this classic Mugspotters entry?
Christmas Mug 1

The Great Charity Shop Swindle

126. Linda Gill Nurseries

First, let me get this off my chest. I paid £1.49 for this. It’s the most I’ve ever paid for a charity shop salvage item. ( I believe they term this “bric-a-brac”) The charity will remain nameless plus I don’t want to give them any free advertising on this already traffic-heavy  blog but despite trying to aid a good cause, they are bang out of order. I have been in this particular shop before and seen another over-priced mug but chose not to buy purely because of their deluded pricing policy. Sadly in the case of this sensational Sparta for the Linda Gill Nursery Group, my heart ruled my head and so it’s with some caution it now finds fame on our site.

Gill 3

Gill 4
It looks a ‘dated’ item. There’s no web address, so it may even be pre-internet. 2 branches are mentioned with a boastful “The Nursery to Go to” / “The Group That’s Going Places” slogans aborning its pert derriere.
– Greenmount?: That’s a poor mans Summerseat.
– Factory St, Ramsbottom?: The kids probably went straight from’t nursery t’factory!

Nurseries & schools are an emotive subject and everyone wants their little Johnny or Mary to go the best one to gain a decent education. Due to the desperate nature of the pleading/boasting on the mug, it seems Linda Gills imagined themselves at the top of the tree in the locality of Bury North End.
What is puzzling though is an internet search in 2015 reveals nothing of the nurseries in the present day but there are covert mentions of ‘Linda Gill’ but it’s all very low-key and there is no direct web prescence other than a mention of a nursery in Bury town centre. Less can sometimes mean more but this is strangely at odds with the over-enthusiastic boasting on the mug.
Anyway, must go now, the bell’s just rung for break time.

Learning The Hard Way

124. Halton Borough Council

More on-location spotting here brought to you courtesy of our Merseyside Branch.  (They really should get danger-money!)
The Mug is unspectacular. It’s a single colour-on-white bread Sparta but what’s striking here is the bold decision on the use of the typeface. Yes, it’s the font everyone loves to hate, Comic Sans. One saving grace is that at least it’s not in italic!

Comic sans Halton 1

It takes some cahonies to go out there with this!  Maybe using such lightweight & childish font is aiming at the demographic who do want to brush up on “there maffs ‘n’ inglish skillz.”
Even the South face of the mug bears a primitive exercise book which looks to me like something they’d teach you in Hogwarts.
I suppose in this day and age you can probably get by in life without learning to read or write because we have technology now where you can just ask questions, no matter how stupid:
“Err Google, what is the colour of a zebra?”
“Err Google, err, is that my elbow at the top of my legs?”
“Err Google, err. where is my err toilet….” (you get the picture)
Anyway those of you who prefer social intercourse & want to avail yourselves of Halton Borough Councils Services can call them on the number listed on the mug, providing you can at least read it.
If not, why not go off & have a chat with your Android Tablet or iPad.

Halton council 1

Halton council 2

Just Another (Mug On A) Brick In The Wall

121. Tarragon:    A CBT Company

Post-NYE Mugspotters HQ looks like Godzilla has just trampled through it. However some of us like to be kept on our toes and so go first-footing into 2015 with some Alfresco action courtesy of our Bury-Based branch, in the form of this lilting Cambridge for “Tarragon”. Not for one minute do I think it’s expounding the virtues of the popular and versatile herb from whose slender stem sprouts narrow, tapering and slightly floppy leaves which have an intense flavour that’s a unique blend of sweet aniseed and a mild vanilla. Not on your Nelly.!

Note what appears to be bird muck under the base

Note what appears to be bird muck under the base

So what of Tarragon, the brand? They appear to be a U.S. firm specialising in CBTs – or Computer-Based Training with some tentative link back into the UK via  Having looked at their swanky website I’m struggling to (a.k.a losing the will to) make a connection. If BBC’s Sherlock creators & writers Stephen Moffat & Mark Gatiss are running short of ideas maybe they can form this teasing puzzle into an Episode for Sherlock: Season 4?

I hate to temper the mood here but it is with sadness I can also reveal the mug itself never survived the photo-shoot. Such are the risks of outdoor photography. Neither was it insured. The vessel was somehow dislodged and smashed, so this is the last-known photo of this doomed Cambridge.

Finally may I take this opportunity wish all our Spotters, readers, followers, fellow bloggers & fans a very Happy New Year!


School’s Out

93.  George Tomlinson School: Bolton 1953 – 2010

And in 2010 it was indeed ‘School’s Out’ for good for the George Tomlinson School, formerly of Bolton.
It’s interesting that a one-colour Sparta should be commissioned to commemorate a schools passing. The motif itself is pretty sombre (and almost printed straight!) and as opposed to ‘Trade’ this one breezes onto Mugspotters by virtue of our more inclusive policy for commemorative trinkets, under the clause that no one without an affiliation to such an organisation would ever be interested in procuring such an item, that is unless you’re into collecting unloved and abandoned earthenware and placing them on the internet for immortality!
March 2007 saw the beginning of the end for G.T.S. when it was given a ‘Notice To Improve’ by H M’s Inspectors. After managing to steady the ship over the next year, 2008’s GCSE results saw only 30% of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at Grade C or above, including English and Maths, which was well below the average for Bolton schools, which was 45% but in 2009 G.T.S.’s average plummeted to 21%. By now the writing was truly on the toilet walls and it finally closed its doors a year later.


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

90. Lancaster University Students Union (LUSU)

I recently took a sojourn to Cumbria and made it my mission to hit every Charity Shop and thrift store on the Fylde Coast and beyond in search of Trade Mugs. Believe me, there’s not much more to do (with the exception of Blackpool) in these towns but over the next few weeks I’ll be posting you the fruits of my labour as we slowly creep towards the 100 Mug barrier…
I’ll kick off with this poetic Sparta mash-up, courtesy of Dr Seuss & the Lancaster University Students Union.
This is truly wonderful. Using its modest 2 colour finish to the max, it sports a Mod-like arrow front elevation but spin this baby right round for an almost motivational rhyming couplet from Dr (The Grinch, Cat In The Hat) Seuss.


I’m not sure if the mountains are metaphorical or if this mug was commissioned to commemorate a trip to the nearby Lake District. It doesn’t matter. It’s inspired me to ‘write’ a song of my own to celebrate this epic find.
If you need me, tweet me
No matter where you are
No matter how far
Just tweet @Mugspotters
I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

‘Cause baby,
There ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no charity shop low enough
Ain’t no ceramic naff enough
To keep me from spotting Mugs

Remember the day
I set you free
Even though you cost me 50p

From that day on I made a vow
I’ll stick your pic on the web
Some way, somehow

‘Cause baby,
There ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no charity shop low enough
Ain’t no situation embarrassing enough
To keep me from spotting Mugs
No Tea, no Coffee…

My love for Trade Mugs is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are streets apart
If you ever need a hot drink

I’ll be there on the double
As fast as I can

Don’t you know that
There ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no charity shop low enough
Ain’t no earthenware uncool enough
To keep me from spotting Mugs

Disclaimer: All lyrics appearing in this entry are fictitious. Any resemblance to Marvin Gaye & Tammi Tyrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is purely coincidental. Honest.


lusu 1

lusu 2

How Many Students Can You Get In A Mini?

52.  ATL: The Education Union

Since when has ‘Everyone Else’s Doing It..” been a good reason for doing something?
This stone-washed Cambridge is a real head-scratcher.
Just what was the logic behind sticking a pencil shaded picture of an ancient Mini on there rammed with what looks like dismembered body parts?
Rather than a rallying call for new members it plays out as if it were a nightmare in a damaged brain.
Thankfully a bit of sanity returns on the other elevation with signage and contact details. The washed out yellow band across its base worries me too. The mug really is that faded in real life. It’s either been through the wash too many times or it could be deliberately designed that way. You can’t assume anything with this mug. There’s clearly some sort of warped logic at play here but I can’t figure out what.

If none of this wierdness puts you off the thought of joining the ATL, check out their site Here.

What Is This?

What Is This?

ATL  2

Doin’ It For The CiDS

31. Creative Industries Development Scheme

MwgaidSpotters goes Welsh with this magnificent entry.
Commissioned to promote the Creative Industries Development Scheme who “offer skills-boosting bundles of mix and match modules to help your creative business fulfill its potential“. It’s based out of the University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd.
As far as design & heritage goes, its ceramic cousin is called the ‘Take Away’ so we’ll class it as the same.
It’s a plastic mug with matching lid but adorned with a branded ‘cuff’, which is the really clever bit, as if the plastic mug ever broke or became unserviceable you could easily slip sleeve this onto another receptacle, so while you’re quaffing your skinny, mocha, choccy-chino you’ll still be down with the CiDS.
You can also follow CiDS on all the usual Social Media outlets and check out their web presence here.
Many thanks to my Welsh Spotters for the honour of being able to post this on our site.


42,000 Teachers Can’t Be Wrong

11. Northwest Learning Grid

Every now & again you see a mug which quite frankly has no right to still be with us.
Every trade mug has it’s day and so it is with some excitement we present to you this antique classic promoting the “Northwest Learning Grid”.  It’s donor was not on hand to give me the back story of this vessel and our in-house photography simply cannot accurately display the remaining printwork which  has been dish-washed to within an inch of complete oblivion.
All I can say is the donor must be very attached to this mug and it must hold many memories, the likes of which make it very hard for them to dispose of it.
The message on the mug, although barely legible reads as thus:
“19 LEA’s, 2300 Schools, 42,000 Teachers, 800,000 Pupils.
Connected By Your Communications”
Even more astounding is that the mug design is a ‘Cambridge’ which makes it’s debut on the site.  A truly rare and priceless artifact which we are proud to now reveal to the world wide web.