Throughout a current keep at a small turn-of-the-century inn, I used to be delighted to see the morning’s breakfast desk set with lovely vintage china and several other fairly little egg cups.
Although I opted for waffles, I loved watching a number of different friends gingerly crack open their soft-boiled eggs nestled within the cups and dip toast strips (or troopers, because the Brits name them) into the liquidy golden yolk and scoop the remaining out with small spoons. It seemed like such an expensive approach to eat some morning protein.
ADDING A LITTLE EGG-STRA FUN TO BREAKFAST
Egg cups are a kind of antiques you possibly can simply overlook about (or possibly not even find out about) till you see one and are reminded of how interesting they’re.
Egg cup collectors already know this and actually have a particular phrase for his or her pastime: pocillovy, deriving from the Latin phrases pocillium (little cup) and ovi (egg). A collector is a pocillovist.
These little dishes maintain the egg upright, and whenever you lower the highest off, you get the right yolky dipper for toast. You don’t want an egg cup to eat an egg, after all, however proudly owning and utilizing one can elegantly elevate a humble soft-boiled egg—and your expertise consuming it. There is an art to this, and whereas a knife is usually used to lop off the highest, that activity will be made simpler with an egg cutter/topper.
Elegant and inexpensive, egg cups will be present in varied designs and supplies. For those who don’t eat eggs, although, they’ll serve candies, desserts, and nuts, showcase embellished Easter eggs and fancy molded chocolate eggs, maintain tealight candles and small jewellery items, and develop herbs. Or they’ll merely be displayed on a mantle, shelf, or desk and simply sit there, trying charming.
AN EGG-STRAVAGANT HISTORY
Egg cups could not be a lavish merchandise just for the rich and elite, however they maintain centuries of informal opulence. The oldest identified egg cup, a silver one, was discovered within the ashy ruins of Pompeii in 79 AD. Turkish mosaics within the metropolis additionally confirmed scenes of individuals utilizing them.
They weren’t paid a lot consideration to within the Center Ages however surged in reputation centuries later in Elizabethan England. At the moment, aristocrats ate eggs in ornate silver egg cups whereas the commoners used plain picket ones. In Seventeenth- and 18th-century France, King Louis XV commonly used extravagant examples just like this one throughout his meals and sometimes entertained his courtroom by “beheading” the egg with one slice. (An ironic omen of his grandson, King Louis XVI, being executed by guillotine.)
The Victorians’ love of kitchen equipment led to egg cups being mass-produced and commonly supplied with dinnerware companies throughout the nineteenth century. Firms, together with Haviland and Wedgwood, produced and embellished them in the identical types as their common china patterns. A number of egg cups have been additionally bought as egg cruet units, with matching spoons and stands. These rare sets are exhausting to seek out and precious in the present day.
The standard kitchen staple abroad caught on in America on the flip of the century, although Abraham Lincoln was reportedly ahead of the curve and loved an egg in a cup for breakfast.
They turned extremely stylish throughout the artwork deco interval when ornamental arts designers like Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper helped usher in that motion with their new and impressed designs, colours, patterns, and dinnerware shapes, together with egg cups. The U.S. military additionally used them.
Double egg cups turned common within the Nineteen Thirties. These have a smaller finish for serving a boiled egg and a bigger finish for serving a chopped one.
American producers that made egg cups via the mid-century which might be popularly collected in the present day embody Fanny Farmer, Gladding, McBean & Co., Lenox, Tiffany & Co., Vernon Kilns, and Westmoreland.
DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT YOLKS
Egg cups cowl many historic eras and design types and are available varied supplies, together with Bakelite, china, glass, plastic, porcelain, pottery, silver and different metals, and wooden. Collectors prize picket examples for his or her elegantly turned shapes, highlighting the wooden’s pure magnificence. China and porcelain cups are sometimes hand-decorated (or cheaper decal-decorated) with flowers and fruits. Pressed glass cups in clear colours or marble-like “slag” can have molded-in patterns or be figural varieties like bunnies, geese, hens, individuals, and roosters. Novelty examples for youngsters function animals, buildings, toy trains, fairy story and nursery rhyme motifs, and well-known characters like Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Snow White.
Amassing egg cups is a fairly priced pastime. They will usually be discovered at vintage outlets, flea markets, thrift shops, and e-commerce websites like eBay and Etsy for underneath $10. However some examples promote for lots of and even tens of thousands. Egg cruet units also can price hundreds. As with virtually each collectible, age, situation, maker, and rarity decide the worth of an egg cup.
A useful useful resource for collectors is Brenda C. Blake’s Egg Cups: An Illustrated Historical past and Value Information, which supplies in depth particulars on hundreds of examples discovered worldwide. Although the e-book is out of print, it may be discovered on the secondary market and in WorthPoint’s Library.
There’s additionally an energetic collectors’ group on Fb, whose members get pleasure from sharing their egg cup treasures and information of the pastime.
For those who’d prefer to elevate a easy breakfast right into a extra luxurious expertise, your pocillovy journey awaits, and also you’re certain to discover a particular egg cup (or extra) that may make you crack a smile.
Adina Okay. Francis has been a author and editor within the antiques and collectibles area for greater than 20 years. She has a little bit of an obsession with the Victorians and thinks that canines are one among life’s biggest items.
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