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The Sanitas Mug

Sometimes the drive for profits motivates Alberta inventors. Or, it stems from a desire to help people. Other times, the motivation for invention has come because the government has asked.

Attaching handlesDuring the Second World War, thepatent record for this invention Government of Canada was concerned that the cracks in mugs common between the handle and body of tea cups were a breeding ground for bacteria. Their fear was that sickness and loss of manpower would result from the unsanitary cups. To solve the problem, they approached Medalta Potteries, located in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Medalta obliged and invented the Sanitas mug.

Ed Phillipson, Medalta's superintendent, applied his mechanical know-how to the problem of how to make a hygienic mug. Ordinarily, the handle would be attached just before firing. As the clay from the handle differed from that of the mug, during firing, the clay of the handle could shrink at a different rate. Breaks could form.

Truly Sanitas HandlePhillipson reasoned that pressing the entire cup would eliminate this possibility. He designed a machine that would press the cup and handle together from the clay. Liquid clay (or slip) was injected into a mould that included both cup body and handle. After leaving the forming mould, a hole was punched in the side to create the finger hole in the handle. The entire cup was then fired and glazed.

Click here for more information on this innovative Alberta company and the Medalta Pottery Museum in Medicine Hat.

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