Corning Military Watch Cups

Thursday October 11, 2007

Item Type: Handleless Mug
Sizes and ID#s: No Number (13 oz.)

Pyrex Love - Military Handwarmer Watch Mugs

We’ve had these interesting older mugs for quite awhile now, but only got around to posting them now. For one we weren’t too sure about their history - we know the cup on the right is known as a Military Handwarmer Watch Mug and have been dated back to the World War II era when they were created to be used by soldiers and military staff. These are EXTREMELY heavy duty mugs (they have the thickest walls of any Pyrex item I’ve ever seen) and were meant to stand up to everyday use in military kitchens and in the field.

We have seen some conflicting statements that they were actually produced and used in the Korean War as well or even later, but we are not sure about that - or whether it is possible to exactly date them. Like a lot of Corning and Pyrex, it is sometimes possible to get a fix on when an item was FIRST released - however it is another to figure out when an actual piece was made. This is especially problematic because many Pyrex items were in use for decades with little change. One thing we are fairly certain is that later colored opal kitchenware and tableware came about as a direct result of the research done by Corning on glass breakage.

The mug on the left is interesting because it is very similar in shape to a #723 Tableware mug, but it seems to be made in the same fashion as the Handleless Watch Mug. The color is a similar off-white, almost yellowish shade - not as dark as the Watch Mug, but darker than normal. We wonder if perhaps this mug was some sort of interim stage between the release of the #723. It is marked on the bottom with the Corning Glassblower stamp - the same one that is on the Watch Mug.

Interestingly, the handles are slightly different as far as we could tell. Below is a shot of a Blue Band Tableware #723 on the left, and the Corning mug in question on the right. The handle “loop” is slightly different in shape:

Pyrex Love - 723 Mug and unknown Mug

It is interesting to compare the wall widths of the mugs. While it is not always possible to date a Pyrex item by the thickness of the glass, it is often a good indication that an item may be a bit older if the glass is thicker. (This is not always true, though)

Pyrex Love - Mug Wall Widths

Here is a example comparison of wall widths. Counterclockwise from the top right: The thickest wall is by far the Handleless Watch Mug. Next thickest is the Interim #723 mug with the Glassblower logo. Finally, quite a bit thinner is a standard diagonal handle Old Town Blue Mug.

We are going to wait to enter the Corning Watch Mug and the #723 style Corning Mug into the reference for the time being. We would like to compare them with a few other items, and perhaps other people might have more information on it. (By the way, there is an advertisement for the Watch Mug in Rogove and Steinhauers Pyrex By Corning book, page 23)

15 Responses to “Corning Military Watch Cups”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I came across someone selling the Military mug on ebay. This person stated that the off white color is from the WWII era, while the military mugs that are white are from the Korean War era. Not sure if this is true or not, but is definitely something to look for.

  2. pyrex love Says:

    stephanie - very interesting! I guess that would make sense, and we’ll definitely have to see if it can be confirmed. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Deanna Says:

    I recently sold a set of the 723 blue band cups to a man and his wife in Australia. He said that when he was in the Navy, these were the cups they had on the ship.

  4. Lillian Cox Says:

    Are these mugs for sale? if so how much? thaks LIl

  5. pyrex love Says:

    Deanna - very cool! we’ve heard from people all over the world who have had experience w/ these particular cups.

    Lillian - Sorry, these particular ones are not for sale - I would check on Ebay, they show up frequently. I would try and be patient, I think people are overpaying for these. They’re more common than people think, and as many people have said not all are as old as WWII.

  6. Rob in Central Cal Says:

    My family has several of the #723 mugs. We use them regularly. My dad got them from doing guard duty during the Vietnam years at Fort Riley, Kansas. I happened across your site trying to find some to buy. Thanks!

  7. Kelaton Says:

    The military hand warmer mug is definitely WWII, my grandfather who fought in WWII (Navy) had a few of these, they were his only drinking vessels. I got one after he passed, and it is my most cherished possession I inherited from him. When I get some extra $$ I plan to buy several more to keep it company.

  8. VAProgger Says:

    I recently picked up the mug and an accompaning bowl at a garage sale. The vendor gave me the military history behind the items, but still let them go for only a couple of bucks. I think that I was lucky. Each piece has the same markings:Corning Made in USA with a symbol of someone blowing glass or a bugle in the middle. These are off-white, but give off a glow similiar to custard glass if one puts them under a blacklight.

    I imagine that the earlier vintage glows, while the later ones do not.

  9. usmc1944 Says:

    The three cups you have shown, the watch mug without handle, the blue band, and the plain mug, I have come across all three of these examples at the old mess hall dumpsites on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, so I can honestly say these were all used by the Marine Corps at one point or another.

  10. pyrexseller Says:

    i already have an off white thick watch mug with corning logo…..but i just bought a white handle…thinner than the other….

    on the bottom says

    tm reg
    made in usa

    amazing find!

    does this help..pls let me know!

  11. Art Says:

    The HANDLELESS Cups are frequently shown in war movies when coffee is handed to the Captain or Chief of the Watch, particularly on the exposed BRIDGE or conning tower. I’ve heard that they were HANDLELESS in order to; 1. Warm the hands and, 2. if they fall, the handle won’t break off. I find these an interesting part of military history.

  12. Walt Says:

    As I was also in Korea area during our conflict there from 1951 to 1954 (VF-113) I know that we used both of the watch stander’s mugs the white and the bone in the mess and the line shack. While Iceland (FASRON 107) we used the plain white and the stripped one were starting to be used (1957-1959) just as I was rotated back to the States.

  13. tlc Says:

    I just found two of the watch mugs on a job site I’m working in Hawaii. The site is an old land fill.

    What is the best way to clean them? They have been buried for decades, other than dirty they are in perfect condition.

  14. Marg Says:

    I have a mug with a handle that I received from a dear friend. In the early 80’s I was working as a caregiver for an elderly couple in FL. They were in their 80s at the time. The gentleman had been a U. S. Navy man all his adult life, born and raised in Florida. He gave me one of his cups from his Navy days. I’ve had it in the cupboard all this time and wondered about when Pyrex first came about and if it, like so many other things, was created first and foremost for military use. Mine has the word Pyrex on the bottom accompanied by a huge number 19. I don’t know if that is indicative of anything or not. They definitely don’t make anything this sturdy today.

  15. Elena Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful information. I read about these great mugs several months ago and hoped to find one. While thrifting in Memphis yesterday, I was fortunate and scored! Since the color is very white, I’m guessing that my watch mug is Korean War era. I would have passed it up as a small planter if not for your article on Pyrex Love. Now I know I found a treasure for 50 cents!