A mustache does not have to be a simple tuft of hair above the lip and below the nose. In the 19th century, mustaches assumed all kinds of forms thanks to the holding power of wax. They were personal works of art.
The wax, however, was not perfect. For one, it could be melted or mussed by steam or hot liquids. That spelled trouble at tea time. But never fear, the relentlessly inventive 19th century tinkerer devised a solution: the mustache protector.
Originally invented by English potter Harvey Adams in 1830, according to Allan Peterkin’s “One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair,” mustache guards were so popular that many others were quick to claim their own patents.
While drinking, a man would rest his majestic mustache on the guard that stretched across the inside of the cup. The ledge would block hot drinks from melting his mustache out of shape.