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Tiki Central / Collecting Tiki

Musings on The State of The Tiki Mug Market

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Hearn posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 2:11 PM

Was flipping through BOOK OF TIKI the other day for the first time in awhile the other day and it really struck me how overwhelmingly strong Tiki has re-emerged from the shadows since its publishing.

Aside from the too-many to count new tiki bars that have popped up, its impressive how many NEW tiki mug makers are now out there. Aside from old standbys like Tiki Farm, Munktiki and the gaggle of great Tiki-Revivalist Artists, it seems like if you go on eBay these days, the selection is seemingly endless.

Not being a "FaceBooker"...my Tiki Fix is still satiated by Tiki Central, and though its sad to me how most of the Old Timers have abandoned the site, it still is a great resource IMHO.

To this end, I thought I'd extend a question: What are TC'rs thoughts on the marketplace for Tiki Mugs these days? Seems like the REALLY COOL new ones are $200+ Plus and the really old ones (featured in BOOK OF TIKI) are harder to find...and priced oddly (i.e. strangely cheap in some instances....over-the-top expensive in others). Not a lot of middle ground.

Is this just my perception?

Maybe I need to move to California and get off of eBay! HA!


It is sad that so many old-timers have abandoned the site and it IS a great resource, what's even sadder though is that the majority of people new to Tiki use Facebook as their only source of information.

It doesn't matter how many times page moderators, on different pages, tell people to use Ooga Mooga or how many times people will leave the link to OM for a particular mug, people SHOULD know about the site but are too lazy to do their own research.

Just about every day someone posts a picture of a mug and asks for information on it. Occasionally you won't find a mug on OM but that's most likely down to either not searching for it properly or the mugs template is described (or named) in a way that might not be so obvious but it is very rare to not find what you are looking for there. Sometimes you see people comment that the search feature is not easy to use which i think is completely the opposite. I think it's very easy. It gives you lots of options on how to break down your search. It's only when you have to find a 'brown tiki' mug that it becomes time consuming because you have to go through 40 pages, which most people are far too lazy to do, but in general you'll usually find what you are looking for.

Another thing is Critiki. That is another site who's name gets mentioned all the time so people should be aware of it but still on an almost daily basis people ask about where they should go or what Tiki bars there are in whatever state/city they are visiting. I know that Critiki hasn't been updated in a while and is not entirely accurate but it definitely gives you a starting point. You can call all of the places listed before you go on your trip and if you find that some of them have closed THEN ask on social media.

Now in regards to your question, that is a topic that has been discussed on Facebook quite a few times and will no doubt come up again. The answer is two things.

1.) Supply and demand. There are more people into Tiki now and not enough mugs to go around (i'm talking new and small run mugs, not vintage). People selling the mugs, and not necessarily the actual makers but more so the bar/event, are aware that they can ask a higher price and know that they'll get it because there's more people who want the mug, and are willing to pay the asking price, than there are mugs available.
2.) Flippers. Even at the cost of some new mugs within hours of them being released they are up on eBay at ridiculously inflated prices. You only need to do a quick search there to get an idea and most of those mugs will never sell at the prices being asked, but some will because some people just HAVE to have it. The flippers are also a reason that they are selling at a higher price when they first become available because it's also a way to try and combat them. If the mug is very expensive to start with then it's harder for them to make a profit (at least less of one), or at least that's the theory.

Hearn posted on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 7:40 AM

Thanks for the thoughtful and reasoned response. FACEBOOK is Sign O' The Times I guess.

LOL. I guess nostalgia for an internet format on a site that focuses on nostalgia is all very "meta" as the kids say.

This thread may be relevant to the conversation but it’s 12 pages long


It's crazy how much its changed Hearn...Mug prices are all over the board.. I watch vintage mugs sell for 1/2 there price of what they use to back 10 years ago and then a minute later watch a mug that was produced in china by the 1000's within the last year sell for over $200.. crazy.. I guess there is just a lot of people with unlimited funds collecting nowadays compared to back in the day..
I love checking out this site still and try and tell as many people about it at the shop as I can. I miss the old days before Facebook took over.. People posting things about Miley Cyrus calling it Tiki.. Crazy I tell ya!!! :lol: :lol:

What is this Facebook thing you all speak of?


I started seeing the trend change about three and a half years ago when I posted that linked thread above. Swanky really got the tea leaves correct, Sven and Skip also saw a lot of it coming. Reflecting back on it, I think we can look at Disney and Trader Sam's as the reason for the change. Finding Tiki use to be a hunt, you didn't really stumble on to it, and eventually the bread crumbs would lead you to Tiki Central where you would get a proper introduction and education.

That isn't the path people are taking anymore and the new Tiki people know very little or could care less about the history. Every Disney nut out there now knows about Tiki from their exposure to TS. Then the whole Geeki Tiki thing followed that up. Seems to most new people, its all about the mugs and the drinking as long as they are full of sugar. Oh and lets not forget about the Hipster Mixologist take over as well, which is another pet peeve of mine.

What we really need is for Sven to do an updated Book of Tiki with a Disney Chapter to get all those people to buy the book, then maybe we can educate this new batch of Tikiphiles.

Aa far as mug collecting goes, I've been thinning out my collection. Basically if it isn't classic, isn't tied to a place I have visited, or has a significant connection to myself, it's going away. The old Tiki spots didn't have walls covered with mugs and if that's the vibe I'm going for, then why should mine.


On 2019-07-14 22:48, Beachbumz wrote:
People posting things about Miley Cyrus calling it Tiki.. Crazy I tell ya!!! :lol: :lol:

There's some real nutjobs out there.

And Tiki Toli, you're right. Disney, Trader Sam's and GeekiTiki's have played a huge role in this. I just didn't mention them because i refuse to acknowledge them to start with.


At least Disney and Trader Sam's has one foot in a real old school style tiki spot in their tiki attractions and the long history of cool old tiki with those attractions.

Plus some of their mugs are cool at least.

The thing is many times in the past when I go off on the non old school tiki on TC I kinda feel like the bad guy with others not liking that view point, it just happened in my last posts just the other day.

You do have the right to like what you like but others have the right to say "wow that's crap"

On the mugs I think many times it's just ignorance and just not knowing that the Kahiki mug you just bought is one of the newest ones made and has little historic value.

Or maybe historic value does not matter to these people, if not what gives the mugs a high price then as some of the ones I'm talking about are not really that cool.
Eye of the beholder I guess.

It was way more fun to buy on eBay when you knew who your enemy was in fighting for mugs, there was I forget but something like Bananna boobs Kohalacharmes.
Have post it notes in my tiki quest book with prices and names of who won, and the prices were LOW my wife saying that's too high they will go down, they never did and even now sell for more.

It kills me when you see some really great mugs, OLD Kahiki stuff that has to live in a home "tiki" bar with brightly colored paper lanterns and a disco ball in the room, just tragic, it's like Party City with a bit tiki plus key west orgy in these spots.

These people will tell you they KNOW tiki.


One way to look at the mug value issue is to define what gives a mug it's value.

Rarity is one way a limited run of mugs in theory make them worth more.
This is why mug makers do limited runs.
BUT many times it's a limited run in red, then blue, and maybe an artists proof.
Kinda takes the "limited" part away.
Event mugs fall in this area as if you were not at the event you don't get one.

History a mug from a tiki joint that is long gone and maybe even was open a short time this can make those mugs truly limited and hard to find.
Plus it's a link to old tiki bars and restaurants.

Style a great design can make a mug worth more.
Shag mugs fall under this spot plus he is a well known artist.

Disney or cross collectables, Disney has lots o fans so stuff sells high.
People collecting a Disney tiki mug may not even like the tiki aspect of that item.

This is what I can't understand about some of the mugs that do sell high on eBay these days as they don't fall into these categories.
I know it is a bit subjective, and eye of the beholder stuff.

Some Kahiki mugs and the prices they bring is just weird, Hoffman used to be the ones that sold high now not so much this just does not make sense.

But hey if the old stuff is what you like keep looking as they might just be selling at a low price these days.

Wonder how much Bennie babies, Cabbage Patch dolls or tickle me Elmo's are worth these days.

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