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Tiki Central Forums » » Collecting Tiki » » What was the first Tiki mug?
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What was the first Tiki mug?
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11196
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: Yesterday; 1:34 pm   Permalink


On 2014-10-19 18:32, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
Let's not forget about those ceramic Coconut Mugs that we have seen in
many of the tropical Pre-Tiki clubs & restaurants from the 1930s etc.

We did not forget, it's just that those are…COCONUT mugs. Tiki mugs are mugs that depict Tikis. Just like Tiki style is the part of Polynesian pop that features the Tiki as the main icon - (not the usual Hula Girl/palm tree/pineapple/ukelele/tropical fish/lei/outrigger/native hut.)

As far as the New Zealand mug goes: Tiki style is defined as an American pop culture happening in the United States in the mid-century. It was certainly INSPIRED by Polynesian and Hawaiian art, but became its own pop culture genre which went far beyond the original art forms. THIS is what makes it unique.

Tourist items from Polynesia were certainly brought back to decorate home bars, but they are not considered an intrinsic part of American Tiki pop. When we look at the initial post by Tatoo that opened this thread, all the mugs and bars that are mentioned are within the Tiki style genre. This thread is really asking the question "What was the first Tiki mug used in American Tiki bars".

All the the fringe items mentioned earlier are certainly of interest, but they do not address the core question here.

DC, the Seattle Kahlua Room Tiki Mug is certainly a good contender. The bummer is that again, the date of the menu is not known. Just judging by the style of modernist marker-pen graphics, I would peg it to be late rather than early 50s.

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Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 347
From: Wanganui
Posted: Today; 01:49 am   Permalink

Hmm, that's some major hair-splitting going on over on the other side of the Pacific regarding that 1949 Crown Lynn tiki mug from New Zealand.

New Zealanders are not particular about what they put in their mugs and that item could easily have been used for any number of different varieties of alcohol. In a country where people used to (and still do) drink alcohol out of jam jars, anything goes. lol

I recall a similar initial reaction of disbelief when I posted those pics of the Wanganui Savage Club on Tiki Central a few years ago; a Polynesian-themed social club founded by European New Zealanders in the early 1890s, where they dressed up like Maoris, sang Maori songs, followed Maori meeting protocol, and addressed each other using Maori ranks. Tiki carvings featured prominently therein decades before they were adopted by Polynesian style bars and restaurants in California.

It looks like once again we have a Kiwi precursor that is upsetting some established theories, although I doubt whether that NZ mug had any influence on US tiki mug design.

I now have a hankering to see if I can actually track down a photo of someone drinking from a Crown Lynn tiki mug in the Wanganui Savage Club circa 1949....

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11196
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: Today; 04:13 am   Permalink

That's all good and fine, folks, and as I voiced earlier, I LOVE the Wanganui Social club - it's just not American Tiki Pop.

From "About Tiki Central":

>>>Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop
Tiki Central is a place to celebrate the classic Tiki Bars of the mid-century and the design aesthetic they established. This movement grew in popularity after World War II when America had a new fascination with the South Seas and Hawaii. Tiki Bars sought to bring an idealized tropical paradise into the concrete jungle of the Modern World. Very little of it was genuine -- born mostly out of the likes of Hollywood art directors and modern architects -- but it all seemed real to a then-naïve public’s eye. The Tiki style started in bars and restaurants but soon spilled over into all forms of popular culture, including music, food, dress, TV and movies, and other forms of architecture.

The Tiki that Tiki Central focuses on is a mid-century American invention that is Polynesia-inspired. We’re here to discuss classic Tiki, what made it great, how to celebrate it and preserve it today, and how to create and influence new Tiki that isn’t generic, watered down, or misguided.<<<

This is NOT saying that all those finds are not of interest here, of course they are. But the delineations for what makes something mid-century Tiki style and what not are important to define the genre. To call any and all 20th Century depictions of Tiki "Tiki style" creates the same confusion that caused Tiki style to not be recognized as a genre in its own day!

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