This example of a miniature puzzle mug carries the mark ‘Gemma’ on its base. This mark was used between 1918 and 1945 by “Victoria” Schmidt & Co (Gemma). This Czechoslovakian porcelain factory was founded by Lazarus and Rosenfeld in 1883. They then sold the business to Franz Schmidt in 1885. It lost its independence in 1945 when it merged with two other firms.
The puzzle that the user of the mug is challenged to solve, as depicted on the side of the mug, is to drink from the mug without spilling any of its contents.
The solution to the puzzle is that the jug has a hidden tube, one end of which is the spout. The tube usually runs around the rim and then down the handle, with its other opening inside the jug and near the bottom. To solve the puzzle, the drinker must suck from the spout end of the tube. To make the puzzle more interesting, it was common to provide a number of additional holes along the tube, which must be closed off before the contents could be sucked. Some jugs even have a hidden hole to make the challenge still more confounding.
The puzzle mug was kindly loaned to the Benfleet Community Archive by Terry Babbage to enable it to be photographed and the pictures added to the website.