This three-handled cup, a Tyg, was used in England in the late 1700s to allow easy passing of a cup from person to person. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that "three different persons, drinking out of it, and each using a separate handle, bring their mouths to different parts of the rim." It's a brilliant design -- why did it pass out of favor? It works brilliantly today -- I wish these were more readily available.
But I wonder about that OED definition: shouldn't each handle be marked or colored distinctively so each person could remember which handle was theirs?
This particular Tyg was handmade at the Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) by a Museum Potter. I had long discussions about the origin and history of Tygs with a potter at the Plimoth Plantation (July, 2003) and a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (Oct. 2003).
Tygs were originally brought to my attention by Joseph 'Jofish' Kaye at a conference run by Ted Selker at the MIT Media Lab, Dec. 2001.
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