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Are egg cups valuable?

Are egg cups valuable?

Egg cups are small cups designed to hold a soft boiled or poached egg upright. They have been around since the early 19th century and were quite popular during the Victorian era in Britain. Nowadays, egg cups are viewed by some as quaint relics from the past, while others collect and use them to add a touch of retro charm to their breakfast table. But are antique and vintage egg cups actually valuable, or are they just sentimental knick-knacks? Let’s take a closer look at the history, styles, and potential value of egg cups.

History of Egg Cups

Egg cups first emerged during the early 1800s in England. Prior to this time, boiled eggs were eaten out of the shell or placed in a spoon. As the custom of eating boiled and poached eggs for breakfast became popular, specialized cups were created to neatly contain the eggs.

Early egg cups were made from materials like pewter, silver, bone china, and porcelain. Designs tended to be simple, some with just a plain hollow to hold the egg. By the mid-1800s, more ornate styles emerged featuring decorative patterns.

Egg cups hit their peak popularity during the Victorian era in the late 1800s. Breakfast became a social affair in upper class Victorian households, with multiple courses and specialized dishes and utensils. Egg cups enabled perfect presentation of boiled, poached, and coddled eggs. Fancy egg cups were common gifts and souvenirs.

After World War I, egg cups began to decline in popularity. Breakfast became a quicker, simpler affair. While they are still used today, egg cups are viewed as quaint novelties rather than essential dining accessories. Vintage and antique egg cups are collected by some for their nostalgic charm and decorative appeal.

Types of Egg Cups

There are a few main types of egg cups to be aware of:

– Porcelain – Porcelain egg cups originated in China and became popular in Europe in the 18th century. Early European porcelain versions often featured Asian motifs. Porcelain is still used today for egg cups.

– Silver – Silver egg cups were luxury items during the Victorian era. Centuries-old antique silver egg cups can have considerable value today. New silver egg cups are still produced.

– Pewter – Pewter is a malleable metal that was used for all types of dining and drinking vessels. Vintage pewter egg cups have a simple elegance.

– Glass – Glass egg cups first became popular in the mid-19th century.Pressed and cut glass versions are very collectible today.

– China – From plain bone china to finely handpainted eggshell china, egg cups have been crafted from ceramic china for over 200 years.

– Novelty – Novelty egg cups come in all sorts of shapes from chickens to eggs and are often more decorative than functional.

Notable Styles and Manufacturers

Certain styles and manufacturers of egg cups are considered particularly collectible and valuable:

– Royal Worcester – This prestigious British porcelain company made egg cups starting in the early 1800s. Their enamel-decorated porcelain egg cups are highly prized by collectors.

– Staffordshire – The Staffordshire potteries produced egg cups from the early 1800s onward. Intricate molded and relief designs make Staffordshire egg cups collectibles in their own right.

– Silver novelty – Whimsical silver egg cups were popular Victorian gifts. Those made by prestigious silversmiths can be worth thousands today.

– Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter’s beloved Peter Rabbit character has been depicted on egg cups since the early 1900s. Collectors seek out rare Peter Rabbit egg cup designs.

– Limoges – Decorative handpainted Limoges porcelain egg cups from France are artistic feats unto themselves.

– Meissen – This luxury German porcelain company made egg cups as part of full breakfast sets. Figural Meissen egg cups depicting animals and figures are highly valued.

Factors Affecting Value

If you’re wondering whether your antique or vintage egg cup has monetary value, there are several factors to consider:

– Age – Older egg cups from the early to mid 1800s tend to be worth more than later mass-produced versions.

– Maker – Prominent manufacturers like Royal Worcester and sought-after artisans increase value significantly.

– Materials – Silver, porcelain, and fine china are viewed as more precious than pewter or basic ceramics.

– Condition – Cracks, chips, rust, tarnish, and restoration all negatively impact value. Near mint or pristine condition is ideal.

– Rarity – Unique, one-of-a-kind egg cup styles and limited production runs make pieces more valuable and sought-after.

– Provenance – Egg cups that come from prestigious estates and have documented histories bring higher prices.

– Decorations – Elaborate handpainting, gilding, silver overlays, and relief sculpture increase desirability.

– Sentimental Value – This is intangible, but people are often willing to pay more for egg cups with personal or family significance.

Valuing Antique and Vintage Egg Cups

So what are antique and vintage egg cups actually worth? Here are some examples based on maker, style, materials, and condition:

Item Estimated Value
Early 19th century Chinese export porcelain egg cup $50-$100
Mid 19th century Staffordshire pottery hen and chick egg cup $75-$200
Sterling silver novelty egg cup by George Unite, 1896 $1,000-$3,000
Antique Victorian glass egg cup with enameled violets $100-$300
Pair of Royal Worcester porcelain egg cups, 1902 $200-$500
Limoges handpainted art nouveau egg cup, circa 1890 $300-$600

As you can see, values span a broad range. Exceptionally rare museum-quality pieces have sold for over $10,000 at auction. Generally speaking, egg cups produced prior to 1920 by prominent makers, in excellent condition, with unique decoration or historical significance have the highest values. More commonplace or damaged egg cups sell for $20-$50.

Where to Buy and Sell Antique Egg Cups

If you’re interested in starting an egg cup collection or selling pieces you already own, here are some options:

– Online auctions like eBay and specialty auction houses like Miller’s Auctions offer a wide selection. This allows you to bid from anywhere.

– Antique stores and malls are prime spots to uncover hidden treasures. You may be able to negotiate good deals too.

– Collector’s clubs and associations like the Egg Cup Collectors Club connect fellow enthusiasts.

– Collector’s fairs feature multiple specialist dealers in one place. These occur regularly at large venues.

– Estate sales sometimes include egg cup collections being liquidated. You may find real bargains here.

– is a retailer specializing in old and new china, including many styles of egg cups.

Doing research is key to getting fair prices as both a buyer and seller of egg cups. Consulting price guides, auction results, appraisers, and fellow collectors helps determine real market values.

Caring for and Displaying Egg Cups

To keep your vintage or antique egg cups in good condition for years to come:

– Wash gently by hand using mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive scrubbing and harsh detergents.

– Rinse and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Letting moisture linger can damage many materials.

– Store egg cups padded and wrapped in acid-free tissue paper away from dampness, heat, and direct sunlight.

– Check regularly for any signs of wear, cracks, or instability. Handle with care to prevent chips and breaks.

– Consider having egg cups professionally appraised every few years and take condition notes. This helps establish provenance.

– Only use food-safe egg cups for actual use with eggs. The rest are best displayed in shelved cabinets and not subjected to hot liquids.

– Dust regularly with a soft brush. Use museum wax or archival plastics for protecting silver pieces from tarnishing.

Egg cups make charming decorations for dining rooms, kitchens, and display cabinets. Group collections together for impact or highlight select special pieces. Make sure they are secure and not positioned on busy countertops or shelves where they could get knocked over. Anchor to bases or platforms if needed.


While not always hugely valuable, antique and vintage egg cups are enjoyable to collect and research. Their history and designs provide a glimpse into changing dining fashions over the centuries. With proper care and maintenance, an egg cup collection can become a treasured heirloom to pass down for generations. For enthusiasts, the hunt for that rare and elusive specimen provides endless entertainment.