That strange object above, my friend, serves a deadly serious purpose. Raynor of The Rag Bag explains this wonderful curiosity known as the Victorian Mustache Guard:
what you need to understand about the differences between the victorian moustache and the ironic ones that you see hanging around park slope these days is that the victorians were deadly serious about their moustaches, oftentimes going to great pains to dye them just right, wax them perfectly, and curl them precisely. when a hairy dandy supped from his teacup, he was putting his exquisitely quaffed lip hair in peril. the hot tea could melt the wax, wilt the ‘stache, and send streaks of toxic hair dye into his favourite earl grey.
the solution was found in the moustache cup which had a special built-in guard. eventually, this guard was made portable so that if you were invited to tea at the estate of those not fortunate enough to own moustache prophylactic drinkware, you could plunk in your own and save the day.