Gary Schumer(Bob Schumer’s son): Ebay Auction Jan 16, 2019
In the early 1950s, John Wayne began a tradition of making specially engraved coffee mugs for all cast and crew members on each of his projects. The tradition began in 1951 with Flying Leathernecks. The ceramic mugs with specially engraved images and messages became treasured possessions for anyone who worked on a Wayne movie. In fact, production and distribution of those cups was a major job that Wayne typically entrusted to Mary St. John. During production of The Sons of Katie Elder in 1965, for instance, she typed up a list of seventy people for whom she would have to get mugs produced, plus four more for family members, with special instructions from Wayne about what to write on each cup.
In the early 1960s, my father was hired by John Wayne and his son Michael as Chief Financial Officer of Wayne’s production company Batjac. He worked for Batjac for many years, until after John Wayne’s passing in 1979 and beyond. He continues to work with most of John Wayne’s family and foundations.
My father was given many personalized “To Bob From Duke”cast and crew mugs starting from the early 1960’s.
This mug, I actually got off of Michael Wayne’s desk, Mary St. John said it was ok. Now, I was only little kid at the time. It was on his desk at Paramount Studios, where Batjac’s office was.
Who ever wins this auction will receive an original 8x10 portfolio photo of John Wayne, Richard Widmark and Laurence Harvey during the filming of The Alamo.
John Wayne Enterprises: Memorable Mugs
In the early 1950s, John Wayne began a tradition of making specially engraved coffee mugs for all crew and cast members on each of his projects. According to journalist Wayne Warga’s interview in 1971 with Mary St. John, the tradition began in 1951 with Flying Leathernecks. The ceramic mugs with specially engraved images and messages became treasured possessions for anyone who worked on a Wayne movie.
“I have four of the mugs on my mantle right now,” states stuntman Terry Leonard, who indeed worked on four John Wayne pictures. “I had them specially hooked up to the bottom of my mantle so that even if there’s an earthquake, they won’t fall. I want them to survive even if nothing else does.”
In fact, production and distribution of those cups was a major job that Wayne typically entrusted to Mary St. John. During production of The Sons of Katie Elder in 1965, for instance, she typed up a list of seventy people for whom she would have to get mugs produced, plus four more for family members, with special instructions from Wayne about what to write on each cup. In the Wayne archives’ folder from that project are original sketches Wayne commissioned from a local artist to be transformed into a logo for all those mugs. Dozens of thank-you notes from appreciative crew members are also preserved in the archives from that movie, and also for the mugs handed out after production on 1963’s Donovan’s Reef, among other films.
Currently, these mugs are highly sought after collectors items, and sell online for upwards of $1000 each. Pictured here is a private collection we had the chance to photograph.
Morphy Auctions: Three Presentation John Wayne Coffee Mugs to Lee Marvin
These customary souvenirs were given by John Wayne to cast and crew of films that he worked on. On these three mugs, he personalized them with an inscription on each “Lee from Duke”. All are ceramic coffee mugs with gold handles and marked underneath “Wallace China, California, USA”. 1) “Donovan’s Reef” depicting John Ford in his director’s chair with three characters, one with caption “No Watah Boss…”. 2) “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” showing a burning log cabin with tree. 3) “Comancheros” showing two men on horseback with mountain backdrop. SIZE: 4″ h. PROVENANCE: The Estate of Lee Marvin through Pamela Marvin. CONDITION: Very good. 9-99494 (1,500-3,000) August 2010 Hammer Price: $7,670.00
Heritage Auctions: A John Wayne-Gifted Coffee Mug from “Rio Bravo.”
Warner Bros., 1959. Made of ceramic, gilt-painted handle, front handpainted with images related to the film above text reading “Rio Bravo,” back reads “Joyce / from / Duke,” [Joyce Burnett, the assistant to director Howard Hawks], bottom stamped “Bob Williams / 155 W. 3rd St. / Tustin, Calif.” and “Wallace / China / 8-M / Los Angeles, Calif.;” consigned directly by Joyce Burnett’s daughter. (Please note that much of the paint is worn from the handle.)
Height: 4″ December 2014 Hammer Price: $13,750.00
It’s an incongruous object and definitely not a work of art. You might pay a euro for it in a charity shop, but you’d be more likely to keep your hand in your pocket.
That’s unless you stopped to wonder – who was the “Duke” named on the mug? Enter John Wayne.
“Duke” was the nickname of the American actor and director John Wayne (1907-1979). From the early 1950s, he was in the habit of giving specially made mugs to cast and crew members on his projects. All of these are now collectible. They’re also easily faked. If you’re lucky enough to have one, you would need to demonstrate provenance before a reputable auctioneer would consider selling it. They’d want to know who it was given to and how you came to have it. Once that was established, the more famous the recipient, the more valuable the mug would be.
This particular mug (above) came from the estate of the Irish-born actor Maureen O’Hara (1920-2015). Wayne had given it to her at the end of the production of The Quiet Man (1952). The mug was put up for auction as part of Bonhams’ sale, The Estate of Maureen O’Hara, which took place in New York on November 29, 2016. The estimate was $500 to $700. It sold for $8,500 (€8,021).
“It was probably one of the last sales from the golden age of Hollywood celebrity,” says Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia in Bonhams, Los Angeles. “Who else from the 1940s is still around?”
Western Clippings: Chuck Hayward
His modest Sun Valley, CA, ranch-style home was aptly located close to Hollywood. On the mantle in the living room was something that really caught my eye, a full collection of the decorated coffee mugs John Wayne bestowed on selective cast and crew members each time they worked together. Chuck’s first Wayne picture was “Fighting Kentuckian”. There were the mugs, priceless souvenirs from “Rio Bravo”, “War Wagon”, “Horse Soldiers”, “Searchers”, “El Dorado”, you name it. More than a dozen titles Chuck could easily sell for a fortune.
FaceBook: Leo Gordon
Every time you made a John Wayne movie you got a free mug!
What can you say about John Wayne? We’ve already established that he could drink Leo under the table and show up fresh as a daisy in the morning……leaving Leo feeling like a sack of manure. That was pretty impressive.
People often asked Leo what John Wayne was like. As time went on, they were asking less about the man and more about the legend…the icon.
Leo couldn’t respond to Wayne that way. Except for a few dinners and drinks throughout the years, his relationship with John Wayne mostly took place on movie locations. Location shoots were usually hot, dirty, dusty affairs, miles away from anything. Everyone (even The Duke) was housed in stuffy little motel rooms. Cast and crew spent 16 hours a day together. They worked hard, sweated bullets, and horsed around six days a week for weeks at a time. It was like the camaraderie of ditch diggers.
I guess you could say that Leo thought John Wayne was a pretty good guy to be stuck in the trenches with.