by Lesley Pinder
days it seems that everyone collects something, it certainly seems like
that when you visit a collectors
fair and it is amazing what people do collect from buttons to
grandfather clocks and everything
I was talking to my sister-in-law and said that I would like to collect something. She suggested egg cups as it was Easter time and there were some chocolate eggs about in egg cups. I thought about it and liked the idea so that was it. Family and friends took an interest and started to give me egg cups. They all thought it was a bit of fun and really enjoyed having something to look out for on their travels.
My enthusiasm grew and I was totally hooked on collecting these fascinating little things. I was constantly on the look out at jumble sales, car boots, bric a brac shops etc. never intending to spend much more than 50p (about 80 cents) on a cup! I started to visit collectors fairs and saw some wonderful egg cups that were far beyond my budget. However it was not long before my original 50p per cup had increased to about £5 ($8) as I could not resist some of the egg cups that were about.
By 1992 I had 500 egg cups! Never in my wildest dreams did I think of such quantities when I started collecting but more were to come! In 1993 I joined The Egg Cup Collectors Club of Great Britain and they were, and still are a source of inspiration.
In 1994 I went for the first time to Newark in Nottinghamshire. It is a huge antique and collectables fair, probably one of the largest in Europe, held every few months. I thought it was the most fantastic place and although I came home with only two egg cups they were £10 ($16) each, a record payout for me! Seeing some very expensive "quality" egg cups made me determined to try and treat myself now and again to something "special."
I collected all types steadily over the next four years visiting some good fairs around plus many smaller venues which sometimes proved more productive, this made me realize that even the smallest fairs are worth a look as you just never know what you might find.
In 1998 with over 1100 egg cups and a big display problem I made the momentous decision to collect older traditional style egg cups, known as the pedestal shape. So now I have to "dispose" of earlier egg cups to make way for the older "new" ones.
Right from the start it has been a fascinating and absorbing hobby especially with the research involved on unmarked egg cups of which there are many. The anticipation of the ‘find’ is the best part of going out and about for me and also the lovely people I have had contact with along the way. Having The Egg Cup Collectors Club to air ones news and views and meet fellow pocillovists is lovely.
We have some really good swop-meets where we buy and sell and have a very good "eggy" day.
earliest images of egg cups appear in a Turkish mosaic dating from 3AD
and examples were found among the
ruins of Pompeii from 79AD. The date of the advent of the egg cup in
England is uncertain but we do know
that Elizabethans roasted eggs and in 1690 a certain Lady Harvey
referred to "a silver egg thing" in a thank-you
Wooden cups were probably made before silver ones but are very difficult to date. In the early 18th century wealthy people used silver egg cups engraved with the owners coat of arms with matching spoons and from 1743 the less well off could buy them made from the cheaper Sheffield plate. Throughout the 18th and into the 19th century pottery and porcelain egg cups featured as only part of a dinner service and would have been of matching style, colour and pattern.
During the 19th century, egg cups were produced in their own right as individual pieces of chinaware although most egg cups did not have a ‘makers’ mark on the bottom so it helps to look out for larger pieces in the same pattern to identify the make and give an idea of the date.
cups made in the 19th century were often gilded inside. This was to
prevent the sulphur from the egg
from staining the silver which some say affect the flavour. At this time
‘egg’ spoons tended to be made of
horn, ivory or bone and these are now avidly collected.
In France, Louis 15th helped the popularity of egg cups as people bought an eggcup to try and emulate their king as he was reported to be able to "decapitate an egg at a single stroke."
Egg cups were so common and were not considered anything "special" at this time so were often chipped or broken. This explains why intact 19th century designs are so hard to find and expensive when you do!
earliest examples of Victorian egg cups often come in sets of four, six
or even twelve as breakfasts had become gastronomic feasts by this time
and families of more than 10 were commonplace. You can pick up cups that
have become separated from their sets or sets with one or more cups
missing at a reasonable price, but
you will be on the look out for the ‘missing’ pieces which can be
hard to find.
The size range of egg cups is surprisingly wide as the Victorian farmyard contained many more species of egg laying poultry than the modern battery farm so egg cups range in size from the smallest for quail eggs to chicken, turkey, goose and even swan eggs.
An advertisement for Harrods in 1911 shows a set of six electroplated nickel silver eggcups on a stand with matching spoons for 22/- (£1.10) ($1.75), today in good condition these would cost around £200 ($320).
The egg hoop is like a waisted napkin ring with one end sometimes larger than the other to take different sized eggs in one end for hens egg and the other for turkey or duck egg. The hoops are quite rare these days especially if in good condition and with a famous factory mark on them such as Wedgwood or Spode.
The double egg cup became very popular in 1930’s, these being used to eat a boiled egg in the small end as usual and the larger end is for the egg to be chopped, mixed with salt and pepper and eaten with a spoon or fork.
the 1900’s the huge growth in railway travel launched a boom in the
holiday souvenir trade and potters
were quick to supply cheap egg cups bearing a black & white or
sometimes a full colour scene of the sea-side resort or town. Probably
the most well known of the souvenir ware makers were Goss of Stoke on
Trent who produced somewhat better quality cups up to 1930. These cups
had a towns’ coat of arms and
name and were not just limited to popular destinations and seaside
resorts but many inland towns were featured. These souvenirs sold at the
time for pennies but today it would be difficult to find a genuine Goss
egg cup under £20 ($32) in perfect condition, many many egg cups from
this period are chipped or have a hairline crack which most dealers
would point out to you but you have to be wary if the price seems a
little low or the seller readily reduces the price.
All genuine Goss pieces have a Goshawk stamp on the base and are very very collectable today so go home and check the cupboards and let me know if you find one!
Also popular around this time was what is known as Devon 'motto ware'. These cups usually have a motif of a cottage , crowing cockerel or seagull with sayings such as 'fresh today' or 'waste not, want not'. Again these are very collectible today and can fetch high prices. Not surprisingly vast quantities of egg cups were being made to appeal to children to encourage them to eat more eggs and cups were decorated with pictures of favorite characters from children's books, and comic strips such as 'Felix the Cat', Bonzo and Mickey Mouse and later came Muffin, Sooty, the Muppets and there has even been a set of TeleTubbies produced.
Novelty cups are probably the most diverse of all cups, chickens (being a common shape), birds, fish, mammals and the rest of the animal kingdom has been well represented over the years. Humans have not escaped attention and have been produced from the Edwardian 'face' cups with the monocled 'Duke' being very popular and the smiling or crying children's faces up to the more recent soldiers, sailors, policemen and of course politicians such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock.
In the early 1980's the duo Luck & Flaw (who went on to make us laugh with spitting image puppets) produced caricatures of our Royal Family these being highly collectible nowadays especially as the Factory that made them closed in 1989.
Wooden egg cups make an interesting collection and again many hundreds have been made over the years. In fact, some of the earliest egg cups were made of wood. Many different types of wood have been used to make egg cups such as maple, pine, rosewood, mahogany, olive wood, fruit woods, oak, birch, ash, walnut, the list goes on especially when you take into account all the wooden eggs cups made abroad. Modern egg cups we see today are factory made and very inexpensive however collectors lookout for the older more unusual pieces.
Most pottery firms large and small have a range of egg cups in their pattern books, some had short production runs and some were made for many years, i.e., Minton 'Haddon Hall' first appeared in 1949 and still being produced today.
The egg cup has to be one of the world's simplest and successful ideas produced in countless 1000's but really has become 'collectable' during the past few decades. Popularity has grown along with the price and collectors now search far and wide for the rarest.
New collectors usually collect anything and everything to begin with as it is all so exciting and people say " oh I haven't got that one" and buy it but as time goes on they become particular as their knowledge increases and also as they run out of space to keep all the egg cups! You may say 'they are only little things' but when you get 500 or a 1000 I assure you that storage becomes a real problem and you start to take over the house with shelves and cabinets of egg cups , an understanding spouse is very helpful.
We have many men in our club who collect egg cups and they are just as enthusiastic and in fact generally spend more on egg cups than the ladies. I think we tend to think about things a little more whereas men say 'go for it, it might not be there tomorrow' which is perfectly true. Collectors will travel 'far and wide' to hunt for 'something special' and even abroad there are always egg cups to be found somewhere.
As with all antiques, prices are increasing all the time, but collectors who have been "bitten" by the bug just love the search and then to find that illusive cup is a real thrill.
From February 2005, ECCC HAVE a new PO Box number and a new secretary,
|HOME PUBLISHING SCHEDULE AD RATES BRIMFIELDFLEAMARKETS.COM|