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Anthora CupGreek-Motif Coffee Cups
By Andy Levine

Greek-motif take-out coffee cups are a familiar sight on the streets of New York. These cups are generally free with a purchase of any hot beverage at most NYC delis, diners and bodegas and contain only Newtonian (gravity-style or drip) coffees. Don't expect to order a Fultonian (steamed) and get your free Greek-motif cup. Most Fultonian joints print their own cups. As a general rule, it is good to stay clear of these places.

Why the Greek motif? This question is answered pretty well by Jose Martinez.

A broad survey of these cups reveals a healthy range in size, color, graphics and text. Upon close analysis a few contiguous elements are apparent:

  • You should always expect to find some conjugated form of the verb To Serve, as in "It is a pleasure to serve you".
  • Also look for some representation of classical Greek art or architecture.
  • Blue, usually with some golden-yellow elements in text, background and/or detailing, is the most occurring color.

The examples below were collected in an unscientific manner. Our hope is to provide only a cursory visual reference. In no way does this sample represent a complete archive of styles and sizes. Feel free to write if you discover a new species or artifact.

10 oz. "Anthora" by Sherri Cup Inc, Kensington, CT. Circa 1997

This is the classic among classics. Note the single handle, geometric style amphora flanking the text plate as well as the simple geometric border pattern. Snakelike steam rises from the cups and saucers (??) through the text.

8 oz. "Anthora Master" by Sherri Cup Inc, Kensington, CT. Circa 1997

The mini-classic. Same as the 10 oz. variety except that the figure represented on the amphora extends the left arm on both amphoras rather than right on one panel and left on the other, evident in the 10 oz. model.

10 oz. "BHC-10" by Alfred Bleyer & Co, Inc., Maspeth, NY. Circa 1997

This versatile 10 oz. is distinguished by the liberal use of yellow as a background element. Note the two ionic columns meeting at the seam and the 3/4 view of the Parthenon. Also represented is an unidentified throned figure holding what could be a scepter, possibly Poseidon.

10 oz. "No. 110" by Premier Paper Manufacturing Corp., Mount Vernon, NY. Circa 1997

This pearl reveals the secret of Discobolus. The question has been asked for centuries: "What possessed him to throw it?" Clearly holding the disc over the Olympic torch would cause some sensation of a burning or searing. Throwing the hot disc away would seem to immediately relieve Discobolus of such pain. It wasn't until years later that the event was officially added to the games.

Throwing or breaking plates is, to this day, an expression of happiness or pleasure in many Greek homes and establishments.

The "Premier 110" also gives us a clear glimpse of what is now a crumbling, double set of Corinthian columns from an as yet unidentified temple or structure. A double set. So far, the only occurrence of Corinthian columns anywhere in this medium.

10 oz. "SMS-10" by Imperial Bondware Corp., Montvale, NJ. Circa 1997

"SMS-10" is undistinguished except for its sharply rendered Ionic columns framing the text plate which reads "It's our pleasure to serve you". This is a somewhat more familiar and personal variant, considering the use or "our" as in "our pleasure"... Nice shot of the Parthenon curiously viewed as if from a high hedge. Note the leaf-like elements forming the frame.

10 oz. "No. 2340 GR" by James River Corporation, Norwalk, CT. Circa 1997

Seated on a diminutive column a foxy goddess seductively plays a lyre. To date, the only occurrence of: 1. a Doric column 2. a foxy goddess and 3. a musical instrument. Classic text, color and geometric detail prove the obvious lineage of this design. Foxy goddess is most likely Erato the giver of pleasure and muse of love poetry. Note the ellipses at the end of the text, adding yet another meaning to the "pleasure of serving."

10 oz. "Greek Key Design" by Solo Cup Company, Chicago, IL. Circa 1997

One word... Basic! Blue and white, simple large text plate flanked by Ionic columns. What is a Greek key?

8 oz. "8HD" by Sherri Cup Inc, Kensington, CT. Circa 1997

There's nothing Greek about the "8HD" except a few borrowed conventions. Snakelike steam rises from the cup and saucer clearly deriving directly from the "Anthora" (#1). I would expect a copyright issue here except that the "8HD" is also by Sherri Cup Inc. No mystery to the genesis of the text plate "We are pleased to serve you."



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