I don't think there is another collectible quite like the eggcup. It doesn't take up much space, and it can be a cute, pudgy, useful, cheery and fun object.
Do I have you stirred up enough to become a "pocillovist"? A what? A collector of eggcups! I hope so.
You may have seen them and thought they were candy dishes, not eggcups. Yes, Fanny Farmer is a company that made delicious candies starting in the early 1900s, but in the 1940s, they created candy eggcups that were sold as candy cups at Easter time.
The eggcup comes in many varieties today, from single cups to double cups. The single cup rests on a single foot or pedestal, and every now and then, one can be found on a pair of legs. Both singles and doubles can be made of every possible material, including porcelain, glass, wood, silver-plated, plastic — even semiprecious stones.
Eggcups are seldom seen in silver, because metal conducts heat, and the sulfur in eggs causes tarnish. There are floral eggcups, souvenir eggcups, cups with faces, and cups in the shapes of animals. For children, eggcups were also decorated with their favorite storybook characters.
Not all eggcups are for chicken eggs. Some folks have duck eggs that are typically larger than chicken eggs; that's why you see double eggcups with both large and small ends. The large end can be handy for mixing your egg with toast bits and butter.
Similar cups, such as candle holders, custard cups and cordial glasses, are sometimes mistaken for eggcups. Keep in mind that many companies offered eggcups as part of their fine china pieces during the Victorian era, and continue within some sets today.
To learn more, I recommend “Egg Cups: An Illustrated History and Price Guide” and “Egg Cups: A Supplement and 2000 Price Guide,” both by Brenda C. Blake. They give us information on over 2,000 available eggcups.
“There are a few basic guidelines to consider when collecting eggcups. As with any collectible, eggcups are valued according to their age, rarity, maker, condition and the price can range from $1 to $300 for a single cup,” she writes.
In my own personal collection, I have three LuRay eggcups in yellow, blue and pink, a red geisha girl, jadeite and a floral chintz, as well as a Fanny Farmer. All found in local antique, thrift and consignment shops, along with garage sales, but various cups can be found online, and at ceramic shows, flea markets, country auctions and more.
Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah's Uniques and Jim's “Man”tiques in St. Charles has several different styles in her shop, ranging in price from about $3 to $12.
"They are a beautiful and fun way to display and eat your eggs for Easter or anytime,” she said.
Joan Thilges, of New Generations of Harmony, said she's never seen so many eggcups at her shop, in ceramic, wood, rosemaled, Lustreware and black glass.
"Many start at $5 for fun ceramic eggcups, a gold edging cup is $15, and Nipco wooden head cups are $9. An adorable Lustre chicken from Japan is $12.50, while the French black glass chicken is $15,” she said.
Neil Hunt, of A-Z Collectibles in Winona has a few solid-color cups priced at $6-$7 each.
"From time to time, I do find people asking about them to add to a collection or start a collection,” he said.
Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org.