Do Glazed Mugs Have Two Handles?

Over 150 million people drink coffee daily, and ceramic glazed mugs are used by an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Based on their popularity, it is safe to say that these mugs’ design features, such as the number of handles they have, deserve some attention.

Glazed mugs do not necessarily have two handles. Glazed mugs, as well as other types of mugs, can be handleless. They can also have one handle or multiple (two or more) handles. Any number of handles on a mug, whether glazed or not, is an optional design feature.

Generally, most mugs only have one handle. This norm applies to glazed ceramic or porcelain mugs, as well as mugs made from other materials such as stone, glass, plastic, copper, acrylic, metal, etc. Mugs with multiple handles exist but usually serve very particular functions.

Does A Glaze Impact The Number Of Handles On A Mug?

Glazing is when you apply a liquid suspension of finely ground minerals onto the surface of bisque-fired ceramic ware. Using a glaze on a mug is not always necessary, nor does it impact the number of handles a mug might have. A glaze on a mug serves an aesthetic and functional purpose.

A glaze seals a mug, making it stain-resistant, food-safe, and waterproof. The visual effect that a glaze can add to a piece includes color, texture, and other decorative elements. For example, a glaze can be applied to a mug to create a dripping, smooth or rough texture on the surface. Glazes can also give a mug a gloss or matte finish and are available in various colors.

The decision to add one, two or three handles on a mug comes down to the preference of the particular designer, ceramist, or manufacturer – it is not determined by whether the mug is glazed.

Which Type Of Mugs Have Two Handles?

A bowl-shaped cup or mug with two handles – one handle on either side – is called a bouillon mug. Manufacturers make bouillon mugs from different ceramic materials, including earthenware and porcelain. They are then glazed to be safe for eating and drinking.

People typically used these two-handled glazed mugs to serve bouillon (thin soup, broth, or stock), hence the name. Today, a bouillon mug can contain any hot or cold liquid.

Two handles are usually added to a mug for safety, making it ideal for those with little or no ability or strength in their hands to hold a mug properly. Thus, the two-handled feature is popular in mugs designed for toddlers still learning how to drink from a mug. These dual-handled mugs are also well suited for older people who might have lost the strength to hold a mug with only one hand.

A dual-handle mug can also refer to a mug with two handles on the same side. This design feature is more based on aesthetics than function. However, some prefer the proximity of two handles on the same side because it allows more space for your fingers, resulting in a better grip overall.

Mugs With Three Or More Handles

Three-handled mugs, also called tri-handled mugs, are often referred to as tigs (or tygs). Tigs arelarge English ceramic mugs with three handles that divide the mug’s rim into sections. Some sources indicate that three-handled mugs also bear the name of “loving cups,” while others argue that “loving cups” include mugs with two handles. Regardless of the definition, their design benefitted multiple drinkers.

Traditionally, people used these tri-handled mugs at meetings, banquets, or weddings to symbolize unity and friendship. They are passed on from the left, from one guest to the next, with each person taking a sip as it passes.

Mugs with three or more handles are still available but much harder to come by. You can purchase these mugs on specialized online shopping platforms or in specific ceramic stores dedicated to stocking more traditional and unique mug designs.

Mugs With No Handles

A handleless mug or cup is called a bowl or a beaker. If a mug does not have at least one handle, it is technically incorrect to refer to it as a mug. Regardless of terminology or definition, most people are familiar with handleless mugs and use them to serve different purposes.

Glazed mugs with no handles were once a design born during WWII in the 1940s to answer the needs of the United States Navy.

The U.S Navy approached American companies to design and produce a coffee mug that was durable and functional. They wanted a glazed mug that could withstand the constant swaying motion of ships at sea and keep the hands of their watchmen warm. The Navy, therefore, needed a thick-walled mug that was heavy and did not have a handle that could break off when it slid and knocked into something else.

There is conflicting information about who first mass-produced these handleless mugs. Some say Victor Insulators Inc. responded to this design challenge and ultimately won the contract. They started manufacturing heavy-duty, thick-walled, glazed mugs without any handles and a rougher texture at the bottom of the mugs to further prevent them from sliding.

These mugs are also known as Navy mugs or Navy Watch mugs, referencing the group of people the design initially served.

What Is The Purpose Of A Mug Handle?

One handle or multiple handles on a mug can serve different functions. A handle, first and foremost, is a support feature that enables the drinker to hold a mug with their fingers and bring it to their mouths to consume a beverage. Another purpose of the handle is related to storing the mugs. Mugs with at least one handle can be neatly displayed or packed away by hanging them from mounted hooks.   

When purchasing or making glazed mugs, consider your functional and aesthetic needs before deciding on one particular handle design. For example, determine the amount of handle space your fingers need to hold a mug comfortably and explore various handle styles to discover your aesthetic preference. 


It is nearly impossible to definitively state when the first mugs appeared on the scene, only that they probably date back to prehistoric times. Even more difficult is to say with certainty when and why the first handle was ever attached to a mug. Today, mug handles come in all quantities, shapes, and sizes and continue to prove to be a divisive topic, with everyone’s preference deeply personal.

Like with many design products, there is no ‘must’ in terms of the number of handles a glazed mug should have. Conventional designs have mugs bearing only one handle. Still, two or more can be unique and add a quirky personality to your everyday cuppa.


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