Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

I hope everyone had a very happy Easter and enjoyed half term with the children.

We were open every day, although we had lots of yummy Easter eggs at the centre to keep us going.

For visitors to the centre there are loads of Easter collectables available and collecting things like egg cups is a hobby open to virtually everyone.

Not only are they reasonably cheap and easy to store, they are also widely available from car boots, flea markets and antique shops.

The first egg cups appeared in at least three AD and are depicted in a Turkish mosaic.

Early egg cups were used for the storage of eggs initially, rather than for the serving of them.

It was not until devices for boiling eggs in the dining room were invented in the 19th century, that the egg cups we eat from, became more ornate and decorative.

I love a boiled egg in the morning and it was in the 19th century when eggs were very much part of a good English breakfast, so the use of egg cups flourished.

With their new dining room status, egg cups were now being designed specifically for the breakfast table and often incorporated stands with trays for spoons or even toast racks.

In their time, egg cups have been made of countless different materials including porcelain, pottery, glass, wood, metal, plastic and even rubber.

As well as the traditional shaped cups there are also more unusual forms like animals (chickens are particularly popular, surprisingly enough!) or celebrities and children’s characters.

The price of egg cups depends on their condition, age, manufacturer and theme.

Even a hairline crack can halve the value of an egg cup and maker’s marks are very important.

The most valuable egg cup is said to be a Royal Doulton Bunnykins shaped egg cup, which recently sold for £2,500.

Happily for collectors, expensive examples are unusual.

Old egg cups in good condition are generally rare because people did not see their value and they often threw them away.

Prices range immensely from less than a pound to thousands, but the majority of egg cups are within the reach of most pockets.