Sunday, July 27, 2003

Honeymoon with mugs has lasted 33 years

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

Who: Laurel Abrams, 55, of Symmes Township, a retired teacher and collector of Royal Doulton Toby mugs.

On display: More than 170 of the colorful vessels bearing the faces of fictional and nonfictional characters such as Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong, Henry VIII, the Mad Hatter, Annie Oakley, Groucho Marx and Don Quixote.

Where: Most are in a large curio cabinet in the home she shares with husband Ron, a veterinarian; their son, Jordan, 12; a dog; a cat; a chinchilla; and a 20-year-old goldfish. The overflow tops an entertainment center.

Romantic remembrance: "My husband and I got started on our collection almost 33 years ago while honeymooning in Niagara Falls and Toronto," she explains. "I saw my first, Captain Hook, and wanted him as a memento. He cost all of $14 and Ron asked, 'What do you need this for?' "

When the couple returned to Cincinnati, they researched the mugs and found that they were coveted collectibles.

Cheers! The china mugs come in various sizes and have handles depicting something about the character. (For example: The Pied Piper's handle is a flute with a rat on it.) Long ago, in England, the prototypes were used as steins from which to drink ale.

"From time to time, a character is retired and the mold is broken," she says. "As a discontinued model, it becomes scarce and thus appreciates in value. Little did we know when purchasing Captain Hook that this was the case."

On the lookout: The Abramses add to their collection by visiting discount stores and buying from other hobbyists.

Like-minded folk: "When we first started out, we naively paid retail prices," she admits. "But then we started subscribing to a newspaper called Antique Trader and found people who wanted to sell duplicates or entire collections."

Captain Hook remains her favorite mug. "I often remind Ron that our $14 investment is worth over $800 today," she says.

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202: e-mail: Please include a daytime, weekday phone number.

Blues Fest schedule
Women get blue, too
Six local ladies who belt the blues
City is home to queens of blues
Players give fest doses of tradition, progression

Justin, Christina make leap from idols to entertainers
Datsuns '70s act is knockout
Terri Clark at the zoo tonight

KIESEWETTER: Viewers turn off reality shows
Fox moves riches-to-rural show to fall
Matchmaker's life fodder for NBC show

A guide to help make your day

DAUGHERTY: TV weather wars rain radar hyperbole
Web site's goal: Friendship first
Honeymoon with mugs has lasted 33 years
UC student overcoming anorexia
KENDRICK: Readers correct record about Hoy

DEMALINE: Activists hurry to turn mansion into arts center
CCM grads off to Broadway

MARTIN: White zin snubs the snobs
Chicago-style hot dogs in Ky.