Our leather mugs are indeed an authentic bit of history. From Neolithic Britain to the American Industrial Revolution of the 1840’s, leather cups were the “Tupperware” of the age. In archaic English, ‘jacked’ meant boiled, and leather jacks were leather cups boiled in pitch. British sailors were known as Jolly Tars or Jack Tars. Their cups, on shipboard and in public houses, were these tarred leather cups. They were practical, for leather was constantly available in those days before refrigeration and plastics, and tar was used for everything from the roof to oakum to the cow to medicines. Such mugs were durable, cheap to manufacture and too light to be fatal in brawls (an important consideration). Presumably, one grew accustomed to the tarry taste, and no one lived long enough to die from any cancer associated with the tar.
We make our modern reproductions from safe vegetable tanned leather, softwoods, and pure canning paraffin, such as Grandmother used when preserving jams and jellies. Intended for wine and ale, they work well for all cold drinks. Impervious to alcohol , mild acids, and soap, they are not, however, suited for hot coffee and tea, microwaves or dishwashers!
The year was 1980. Founder Bill Cantieri said: “Self, I require a beer mug.” The outcome of this revelation caused friends and family members to marvel and exclaim their jealously over the practical costume accessory. In 1983, Ye Dragon and Unicorn was born, created by Bill and Sandy Cantieri. 30 years later, they have welcomed to the D&U family Larisa and Michael Buck. As we move into the next generation of mug makers, we strive to uphold our promise of quality costuming necessities.