What is the difference between a shaving and any plain coffee mug or soup mug ?
As I browse antique malls, I notice higher prices on ones listed as a shaving mug but notice little difference physically.  Sometimes the shaving mugs are more ornate (and less manly).

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Some shaving mugs are just oversized coffee mugs (obviously because the first shaving mugs WERE coffee mugs. They are a bit larger now because some shave soap discs are larger than the diameter of a coffee cup.

some others have a ball handle instead of a typical coffee cup handle (easier to hold with wet hands I guess).

Anyway, if you don't use shave soap with a large disc, just use a coffee cup. If you use anything bigger than Williams soap, you'll need a shave mug or you can just find an oversized coffee mug.
Most coffee mugs today are 1 1/2 to 2 cups. The old diner style mugs were 3/4 to one cup. If you were in a diner, a waitress or counter person would be always be going by asking you if you wanted more coffee. A mug like that was well suited for holding a cake of shaving soap. One could move a brush around in it quite easily while gripping the handle with your other hand Most men face lathered their soap in those days. If you go way back, barbers would hold personalized mugs with the customers name on them and a brush. There were also occupational mugs often personalized. The individual mugs and brushes were for hygenic reasons. Some old style mugs and scuttles often had flowery Victorian motifs but were clearly intended for shaving. Some notions of manliness do change from era to era The upper part of an old style scuttle holds the soap. One pours hot water in the lower part to soak the brush in and there may be a slot at the top the brush could rest the brush in. You can see them on Ebay. Some mugs you might see are wider and not as tall and might have a cover. Those would be for shaving soap. The classic Old Spice mugs were like that. Don't pay extra for a diner type mug just because someone calls it a shaving mug.

If you are getting into bowl lathering creams or soaps, you can use a small bowl, a soup mug or big latte cup. The soup mugs and/or latte cups can be had in your local markets and do the job as long as you get the wide ones as opposed to the tall ones. There are potters who make shaving scuttles that are much different from the old style scuttles. They are meant for bowl lathering and keeping the lather warm.
I've shopped at Goodwill for my shaving mugs.
I currently use a short straight-walled coffee cup. I works. I've used one of my wife's soup bowls. Looks like a deep-sided noodle bowl. I like that because it keeps the suds contained but wife prefers that I only use it as intended. The point is to try different shapes, Wow! My response is really off topic. But while I'm here... I will start turning again this fall and will try several different shapes of shaving bowls as well as interier textures. I wonder if shallow spiraled grooves might help create more lather.
Spiraled grooves do help! Most if not all of the scuttle makers put grooves in the bowl of the scuttle to aid with lather production. I would say try it!
Thanks Aaron. I had to google 'scuttle' to know what it means. I love the concept of the heated cup.
B'H

I love learning the history, thanks gentlemen. As for me, when I was a toddler, my mother, in some pottery class, made me a cup and oversized saucer with a stick figure and my name impressed on the clay. That is my shaving mug, convenience be damned, family and memory loom larger.
I have seen a few bowls and mugs that have a bump or spiral in the bottom that look like they would be very good for building lather. I ordered a "burmashave" mug, but it is like a coffee cup, and I actually have trouble building lather in it because of the depth.
Crabtree & Evelyn has a great lather bowl with the raised bump on the bottom - fits well in the palm of your hand.
I use a Campbell's Soup mug I had sitting in a box in my basement. It's perfect. I put three cakes of Glycerin shaving soap from ClassicShaving.com, nuke them in the microwave for a minute or so to melt the soap in the mug, let it sit overnight, and presto! a full mug of shaving soap hardened in the mug. It will last me six months easy.
That's an excellent idea! Using a over sized soup or cappuccino mug is perfect, giving enough room to maneuver the brush, but keeping everything contained.

General Note to all: I don't recommend building lather on top of your soap. Have one mug/bowl that holds your soap, load your brush with the soap, then build your lather in a separate bowl. You'll have a harder time building lather and use excessive soap if you try in the same mug as your soap is in.
Look for a latte cup if you are need something to whip up a lather.
I have an extensive collection of mugs and scuttles.
There is a Col.Ichabod Conk, Ball handle shave mug that resides in my shave stand in the bathroom that I use for most of my soaps.
I don't use the antiques for shaving.
But for creams I usually use a french onion soup bowl, works great for oversize pucks as well.
Bottom line is use... what your comfortable using that works for you.

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