When shopping for a shaving mug to replace my old Wal-Mart coffee mug, I decided I wanted to try the apothecary style of shaving mug because it looked functional, cool, and, well, not like an afterthought. The apothecary mug looked like a purposeful tool, rather than something that just accidentally found itself in my bathroom during a delirius Sunday morning hangover. On the KnifeCenter.com website (http://www.knifecenter.com/kc_new/store_detail.html?s=cc019) I found this one. It was relatively cheap and a little rustic, since it was stoneware with a simple glaze, rather than porcelain like the Muhle or Edwin Jagger apothecary mugs that were twice the price (Mine was $24.95.).
It feels more durable than what I imagine porcelain would feel like. It's hand-thrown pottery, so it has a uniqueness factor to it. It beats the heck out of my old coffee mug, because the rim on this one has a wide flare as all apothecary mugs appear to have. This flared rim seems to give me better range of motion and vision when whipping up lather from my shaving cream . I can really see the magic happening as it goes, rather than stirring, removing the brush to look at the lather, then stirring, looking, repeat, etc.
The knob handle gives you several options on gripping it, which I like. I haven't tried it with soap, yet, but I don't think I'm going to be much of a soap-kinda-guy, anyway, but the bottom's diameter is about an inch or so wider than a regular-size puck of shaving soap, so you soap-guys might have some leeway in soap size. I don't know for sure, though, because I'm not really familiar with standard sizes of shaving soap. I just know that the wooden bowl refills seem to be a bit larger than the Van Der Hagen, Col. Conk's, ClassicShaving, etc. I'm not sure if the larger pucks will fit in this one, but the mug is wider in diameter (bottom and especially at the top) than a regular-sized coffee mug, if this helps.
The packaging was what you'd expect from a piece of hand-thrown pottery: the plain, nondescript cardboard box in which it was shipped, wrapped in heavy brown wrapping paper, but I didn't buy it for the packaging, so this is a non-issue for me.
Overall, I'm really happy/satisfied with my mug. It may not be as sexy as the EJ or Muhle apothecary mugs, but at least it doesn't have the cheesy Col. Conk banner logo on it, too. It does what it's supposed it do and it's made in the USA, for those of you interested in stimulating our economy.