I recently came across a small collection of vintage Taylor & Ng coffee mugs. The mugs are from the late 1970s to early 1980s. Like all things I come across I did a quick search to find more information about who or what is Taylor & Ng. For those that know me, I always get excited when I learn about a local, close by, company here in California where I live.
In 1965 San Francisco artists Spaulding Taylor and Win Ng founded a company named Environmental Ceramics. Later in 1965, this small ceramics shop that created handmade decorative art and homewares became Taylor & Ng. The shop moved from their Howard Street location in San Francisco to a multilevel shop at Embarcadero Center. Stores eventually opened at Stanford Shopping Center and other Bay Area locations as well as shop inside of Macy’s in New York.
Many of their products were sold by Macy’s and several other major houseware and department store retailers throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. Ng focused worked on retail based art until 1981 where by then he had created hundreds of designs for Taylor & Ng. In 1985 the company switched to a wholesale only format. The Asian influenced concepts in the housewares sold by Taylor & Ng helped to popularize far eastern aesthetics with middle-class customers.
Win Ng’s designs have been described as whimsical and many featured various animals.
Many of these designs became very popular products for Taylor & Ng. The vintage mugs I found are from 1978, 1979, and 1981. All feature interesting animal designs. There is a French language series of 14-ounce mugs with an animal such as Le Taureau, Le Chat, and L’Escargot, with each mug depicting their respective animal, a bull, a cat, and a snail. Other mugs with the French language theme include La Vache (Cow), La Poulet (Chicken), Le Canard (Duck), Cochon (Pig). Le Chien Tigre (Dog), Le Baleine (Whale), Le Poisson Chat (Catfish), La Grenouille (Frog), La Tortue (Turtle), Le Cheval (Horse), Le Coq (Rooster), Le Lapin (Rabbit), La Chouette (Owl).
Additionally, I have a few other designs in this lot of mugs I came across. One of them features a bunch of rabbits and is part of what is called the Animates series. Of the mugs for sale online many tend to list this particular one as the “bunny orgy” or “naughty bunny” mug. Similar listings have been done for other Animates series mugs including the naughty penguins, elephants, and bears.
Another popular series that came out later and is today called the Classy Critter series that came in smaller 11-ounce mugs. I was fortunate to get the Kitty Katfish style from 1981 in my find. The Classy Critter series offers a collection of strong and vivid colors with the cartoon-like animal designs. Like the two previous series, there are many animals represented, cat, dog, chicken, rabbit, snail, and whale to name a few.
Many more mug designs came over time with many featuring animals, and others like those found at HedgehogAndOwl‘s Etsy store feature a fun play on early 1980’s computer culture with witty sayings such as “You Turn My Software To Hardware” or “Terminal Madness” on a dot matrix printer style text on paper look. There have been various holiday themed mugs as well for Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
But wait, all I have talked about are mugs and didn’t the title of this say that Taylor & Ng was more than a mug company? You would be correct in thinking that, and yes, Taylor & Ng released many additional housewares over the years.
My personal favorite is the bacon meat press that can be found on eBay or Etsy. They also made a bull press for meat. Be warned though, Norpro made a very similar looking bacon press that many passes off as a Taylor & Ng product, however, it lacks the Taylor & Ng name on the top side of the press.
Taylor & Ng also published a few cookbooks. DIM SUM The Delicious Secrets of Home Cooked Chinese Tea Lunch (1977) by Rhoda Yee and Chinese Village Cookbook A Practical Guide to Cantonese Country Cooking (1975) by Rhoda Lee.
Other housewares include wood frame tile trivets, teapots, wood serving trays, pot holders, ceramic fish cookers, salt & pepper shakers, wood & tile trinket boxes, wood recipe boxes, kitchen towels, tea cozy, and Christmas stockings.
In addition to the above items, Taylor & Ng made or sold several functional kitchenwares. Examples include their 36″ Track Rack System (1989) for hanging pots and pans, Aluminum Steam Pot (1977), and Portable Burners. Another is a Stainless Steel Hot Pot (1976) that was boxed in a wood box with their logo on the side.
While Spaulding has moved on to other activities, and with Ng’s passing in 1991, Taylor & Ng still thrives as an online retailer at taylorandng.com. Reproductions of some of their classic mug designs in smaller 11-ounce mugs can be purchased at their TaylorandNg Etsy shop where they also print the year on the bottom of the mug. Also, you can still find many of their classic vintage products on sites like eBay and Etsy from various sellers.
Let me know on Facebook or Twitter what is your favorite Taylor & Ng product. And if you own and or use a Taylor & Ng product be sure to share a picture.