Who Has The Largest Mug Collection In The World?

You don’t have to be crazy about coffee to collect mugs. Hot cocoa doesn’t have to be your cup of tea, either. As Kathleen Rawn Fouts said, we all collect something. There’s just something about opening your cupboard and having a selection of mugs to choose from, or should I say collection to choose from?

Kathleen Rawn Fouts now has the largest collection of mugs after her husband for over 60 years; Ivra “Charlie” Fouts, who started the collection, passed away in April of 2021 and left his family with a barn-turned-mug museum containing over 40 000 mugs.

Do you want to become a great mug collector? It’s time to drink up all the tips and information you can before starting your mug collection or adding to it with a new perspective, shelving the idea of ever having enough mugs. Surely, you’re not just reading this to get an answer about the largest mug collection without learning more?

The Largest Mug Collection In The World

On 10 December 1942, Charles William Fouts and Lena Jackson Fouts welcomed a baby boy into the world. Little did they know he’d eventually become Tennessee’s famous Mug Man.

About 16 years later, Charlie married Kathleen Rawn and moved north of Chicago, where he worked hard as a machinist, and the lovely couple raised their five children.

Almost four decades later, in 1994, the couple moved to a farm in Woodbury, Tennessee. This is where Charlie used a barn as his workshop, which later became the mug museum.

When Charlie and Kathleen moved to Tennessee, Charlie was 52 years old. His work experience equipped him to continue laboring hard, and their barn was the perfect place for a workshop. Here, Charlie started making mug racks.

His kids suggested adding mugs to the racks to serve as an exhibit for anyone who would also want him to install shelves for them. Along with that, the collection unwittingly started. It eventually grew and consumed the workshop to become a mug museum and, until his passing in 2021, expanded to the massive 40,000-plus.

When Charlie was not working on the farm, he liked going out to collect mugs or hunt them down at nearby auctions. Apart from his outstanding collection of mugs, he was also well known and hard to miss for driving a purple truck he named Plum Crazy.

The collection includes a series of M&M mugs in different colors that has special meaning in the family. You could also see famous figures like Pink Panther, Humpty Dumpty, and even Regis from the days he hosted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!

Although you can find mugs online priced over $1000, the market is not big enough to call it competitive. This leads to a very peculiar supply-and-demand dynamic, making it impossible to put a price on a collection like this.

Apart from that, Charlie bought cups for 10c each in the early days of collecting, got some as gifts, and, as the years passed, bought many at varying prices wherever he could find them.

The Mug-collecting Competitors

According to Guinness World Records, Bob Thomson is recorded to have the largest collection of mugs, with 6,352 and all being different. Bob’s collection was added as a record on 20 June 2006.

In 2012, Charles Hubbell, also from Tennessee, was recorded to have a collection of more than 19,000 cups. Knowing Thomson’s record, he only commented that his focus was on quantity and indeed had more than 6,352 unique cups.

Collecting Mugs With Humor

One day, Charlie found a mug with a picture of a man wearing a top hat, riding a chicken on it! He got the mug. What topped it off was the title printed on the rim inside the mug; “the village idiot.”

In 2019, Tennessee Crossroads visited the couple, and Kathleen was asked about her favorite mug amongst the then 37,000-strong collection. She pointed at a colorful mug that read, “she could no longer pretend that he wasn’t an idiot.”

The interviewer poked at it for being harsh, but Kathleen playfully admitted that Charlie bought it, and she just agreed.

Charlie loved to tell the story of the late Billy Syster, jokingly confusing his white legs with him riding a chicken. Upon seeing him with very short pants, Billy would ask, “Are those your legs, or are you riding a chicken?”

What Does It Take To Start Collecting Mugs?

Answering the ‘How’ and ‘Where’ of mug-collecting is easier than you might have thought.

If you own at least one mug, you technically have a collection, although extremely small. Building upon the few that you have, is the rest of the fun! And it’s not a rare sight in just about every house.

However, the difference between each house is the intention and dedication to collect.

If you have a favorite few, you would rather keep safe, that is also a great reason to stick them up somewhere as decoration and out of harm’s reach.

The most common wall decorations are paintings, pictures, shelves, and mirrors, but what about mugs?

If you like something different, why not use your collection of mugs as wall décor? Casually known as the mosaic of drinkware.

Deciding to display your collection can be easy. Figuring out where to do it is where most collectors struggle. Some intend to fill up whatever space they can find, while others want a specific area to display their collection.

It’s no use if you keep your, however humble collection tucked away in a cupboard. And even less so if you have an impressive collection. People need to see it, so go on and display it!

Acquiring mugs to display is the next step. Be it for business or pleasure, buy a mug or two every time you venture out of the neighborhood, and you’ll soon have a distinguished collection.

Another common way people accidentally become collectors is from gifts. Did someone buy you a funny or colorful mug? Do you have a mug inviting every onlooker to your hometown? Or did you pick up a limited edition somewhere at an event? Add it to your collection.

For years, mugs have been the go-to staple prize for “best” anything. Or going-away gifts that will always be useful for drinking your favorite hot beverage, keeping your toothbrush and -paste together, or storing some pens.

Unique mugs contribute strongly to each collection. Every collector would want that mug celebrating their favorite president’s term ending, but how much better if you got one from the inauguration?

Buying mugs at thrift shops, antique stores, or auctions is the work smarter, not harder of mug-collecting. Find some more affordable places to procure unique mugs. This tends to be the less expensive way of expanding your collection.

What would be the difference if every collector only journeyed to Walmart or Target for their cups? If you pass by an antique store or auction at the right time and place, you’ll undoubtedly acquire mugs very few have ever seen before.

Conclusion

The largest mug collection in the world is a collection of over 40,000 mugs. To have a collection that big takes years of dedication. The sooner you start, the better. And if you have already started, keep it up!

Although you don’t need a barn, if you want to chase that record, you know what to aim for – at least 40 000!

References

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