Description: Silver-plate mug, engraved on body, “Butterfield House,” stamped on bottom, “E.V. HAUGHWOUT/ NEW YORK.”
Height: 3 ¾”
Diameter: 3 9/16”
Weight: 0.75 lbs
What does a historical object tell us?
Let’s look at this mug. It is a silvery color, but the rim, the band toward the bottom, the stamped writing, and parts of the handle are golden. While it’s possible that some was meant as decoration, the gold color on the handle is more likely a sign of wear. This mug was silver-plated (a process that made it look like a silver mug, but cost significantly less); However, after too much cleaning or wear, the silver plate is partially rubbed off!
What other clues does the mug offer? A stamp on the bottom reads, “E.V. Haughwout/New York,” which suggests the mug was made by the E.V. Haughwout company in New York City, seller of upscale items such as china, crystal, and silver. Built to match the loveliness of the items for sale inside, the E. V. Haughwout & Company was the first building with a safe passenger elevator and also holds the distinction of being one of New York City’s architecturally most important cast-iron buildings. To see images of the building, click here. Our little mug originated in the same building where Mary Todd Lincoln shopped for her White House service. (For more information, click here .)
Why was this fancy New York City mug in Utica? For this answer, we can look at the other stamp on the mug, in fancy script opposite the handle, “Butterfield House.” John Butterfield built Utica’s largest hotel, the Butterfield House, which opened in 1869 on the corner of Genesee St. and Deveruex St. The elegant hotel hosted many important people as they passed through Utica, including a reception for President Cleveland in 1887. It is fitting that a fancy hotel would have nice New York City silver (or silver-plated) mugs. Read more about the Butterfield House here and see another picture here.
One more dot to connect – and one thing that this mug can’t tell us. How did it get from the Butterfield House to the Oneida County Historical Society? In 1985, Mrs. Martha Patrick Huxley, a former Utica resident, art teacher, and artist, left the mug to the Society in her will. Where Mrs. Huxley got the mug from is a mystery left to further research!