“Time has not reduced the appeal of the Moomins” – Katarina Pettersson, Brand Manager at Arabia.
This is a very special post as it features my favourite collectible merchandise… the mugs! I currently have 37/62 and I started collecting them in August 2011 on my first trip to Finland because they were cheap – only 11€ each. My total spend is now around £845 although they are worth quite a lot more. This post is in celebration of the launching of my new website www.moominmugs.com which details information about the mugs and their estimated cost, which I know fellow collectors/sellers will find incredibly useful.
The first Moomin mug in the 1990s series – ‘Mug Green - Muki vihreä’ produced 1990-1993.
Product Manager Christel Vaenerberg started working with Arabia in 1988 and brought about the real Moomin boom in the 1990s. He visited Tove and her partner Tuulikki Pietilä starting in December and by February 1989 Tove finally approved of the idea. It was discussed here that only original Moomin illustrations would be used for the pictures on the tableware. Tove Slotte-Elevant adapted these, then Tove approved of them. Her main issue was making sure that the tails of the characters were in the correct position as they portrayed their mood.
In April, the world rights to ceramic Moomins was signed and the first collection ‘Welcome to Moomin Valley’ launched in Stockholm on September 7th 1990. Stockmann in Finland saw the success of these and demanded that they be on sale there too. By Christmas, they were there too. It is said that hardly any advertisements were needed – they sold well immediately. Special Arabia stamps were put onto the bottom of every product, as well as special packaging, pamphlets, display racks and mobiles.
Tove Slotte-Elevant, the designer for Moomin mugs used to be read the Moomin stories by her mother in Finland in the 1960s. As a girl, she used to love drawing Moomin characters. She thinks everyone should enjoy a little Moomin philosophy every day. She met Tove in 1990 when Arabia were first producing products. Christel Vaenerberg asked if she would create the first designs. When Tove stopped being the artistic director for the products, Lars Jansson (her brother) took over. He was very precise and the designs would sometimes have to be redrawn over and over. He set rules on how to draw Moomins, commenting that the early drawings of Tove Jansson’s were no longer acceptable. None of the cartoon or animation characters are used. Sophia Jansson’s wish is that the figures should always be shown completely – nothing is to be cut off. It is a challenge because there are limited colours available. She enjoys putting images on the back of plates and mugs because when we handle or wash them, we can see them from every angle.
Moomin products, the Arabia Moomin range in particular, are now highly collectible and if you miss out on buying the latest products (there are seasonal and limited edition items each year), you will pay a LOT for them.
This is the most expensive Moomin mug currently available. It was created for the confectionary company ‘Fazer’ in 2004 and only 400 of these were made. They each have an individual number printed on the bottom and cost between 700-3500€.