History of the Eggcup

Single Eggcup in Desert Rose by Franscisan
Replacements carries a variety of patterns that feature single or double eggcups. These delightful pieces of china have become quite collectible over the years. Recently, our showroom staff researched the history of these unique pieces.

The earliest record of eggcups was found in 3 A.D. in the ruins of the city of Pompeii. Pompeii was preserved under lava and ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. and completely buried the city. Turkish mosaics found in the city showed scenes of people dining, many of whom were using eggcups. After the fall of classical civilization in the east (1453 A.D.) and the west (476 A.D.), the eggcup would not be used again until the Elizabethan period of the 1600’s. During this time, the ruling classes of England would often eat their eggs in silver eggcups. Since it was fashionable for commoners to mimic the styles of the aristocracy, many English families began eating hard boiled eggs in wooden eggcups.

In France, Louis XV promoted the use of eggcups by using them regularly during his meals. Louis XV and Louis XVI often held court and made important national decisions during the most inopportune times, including breakfast and brunch. Louis XV often entertained his courtiers by “beheading” the egg in his eggcup with one slice. Ironically, Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, would be beheaded during the “Reign of Terror” in 1793.

Single Eggcup in Old Country Roses by Royal Albert
The eggcup continued to rise in popularity throughout Europe. It is not until the Victorian era that one finds eggcups mass marketed and regularly offered with dinnerware services. Companies, like Wedgwood and Haviland, produced eggcups and decorated them in the styles of their best selling china patterns. Also, during this period, it was fashionable to sell eggcups in sets of 6, 8, or 10 with a matching tray and spoon collection. Today, such collections are extremely rare and difficult to find.

At the turn of the century, the modern home began to take shape. A marriage of classical forms and modern concepts gave rise to the Art Deco period of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Designers like Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and the Bauhaus School of Berlin, Germany revolutionized the look and feel of home. New designs, colors, shapes, and pattern ideas gave rise to the popularity of the eggcup. Other designers, in attempt to be more avant-garde than the art decoists, began producing eggcups with aphorisms printed on them. Many eggcups from the art deco period have sayings like, “Morning Fresh” and “An egg a day…” inscribed on them.

Following the art deco period, the world was introduced to the concept of cross-marketing. Many companies that produced eggcups purchased the rights to cartoon characters, movie stars, and, later, TV stars. Eggcups during and after the art deco period were often emblazoned with images of famous characters from literature, the movies, and TV.

In recent decades, the eggcup has come to be quite collectible. Eggcups can be found in sets at flee markets and antique stores. Peruse our inventory and begin a new collection of eggcups today. Many of our most famous patterns, including Franciscan’s Desert Rose , Royal Albert’s Old Country Roses, Portmeirion’s Botanic Garden , Pfaltzgraff’s Village, and Johnson Brother’s Rose Chintz feature these delightful pieces.