Egg cups have long been a popular item when it comes to collections. The hobby of collecting egg cups, known as pocillovy, is widespread; as egg cups are easy to find and come in such a wide range of varieties, it is a hobby which can be engaged with by people of many different tastes. For example, one person may be content to buy cheap egg cups found at charity shops, while a more dedicated collector might restrict themselves to hunting for the rarer and more unusual examples that may be found from antique dealers. Egg cup collecting is, therefore, only as expensive as the hobbyist will allow: by looking in the right places, a collector will be able to amass a satisfying range of egg cups while still keeping to a reasonable budget.
Egg Cups and their Collectors
The term pocillovy, mentioned above, derives from the Latin phrase for egg cup: pocillum ovi. The fact that there is such a term demonstrates the sheer age of the egg cup, which dates back to ancient times. Egg cup collecting is, of course, a more recent pursuit and any second-hand egg cups that may be found on the market are unlikely to predate the twentieth century. Despite this, a typical egg cup collection is likely to cover a noticeable range of periods and creative influences. The wide variety of egg cup designs is categorised in different ways by different collectors. Some will divide egg cups up by size: the ordinary type, which holds a single egg; the double egg cup; and a third variety which is essentially a larger version of the first, designed to hold a single egg along with other items of food such as bread; alongside these three main types are more unusual varieties which may hold as many as five eggs. Others may categorise their egg cups along more cosmetic lines. In this instance, there are two main types: one is a plain egg cup which has had a design printed or painted on to it, an approach with obvious appeal to manufacturers as the cups can be mass produced with a range of different designs; and the other is moulded into a specific shape, such as a character or an object. Beyond this, there are a number of subcategories which can be identified, with some broad designs being particularly common: many egg cups depict flowers, for example, and there are also large numbers that carry brand names or adverts; egg cup types such as these could form dedicated collections of their own. Another method of categorisation, and the one which can have the biggest impact on the price of the egg cup, is material. Ordinary ceramic egg cups are easy enough to come by, but there are many examples of egg cups made out of precious metals such as silver; at this point the items become the province more of serious antique dealers than of casual collectors. There are also egg cups made using unusual materials that are far less expensive, however, such as wood or stainless steel.
Refining a Search
Egg cups are available on eBay in two main sections. Due to the vast number of egg cups available, it is important to know how to refine the search results. The range of egg cups on offer can be narrowed down by selecting the used link, thereby specifying second-hand egg cups and removing any first-hand kitchenware. It may also be worth typing additional descriptors into the search box - such as "vintage egg cup" or "second-hand egg cup" - to help bring the more relevant items up. Due to the sheer amount of egg cups that are constantly being listed on eBay, frequent visits to the site to check for new and unusual items could prove rewarding. It is also possible to limit a search to egg cups made from specific materials. The left hand column will provide a list of whichever materials are represented by the current listings, allowing a buyer to easily locate egg cups made from unusual materials such as glass, earthenware, or metal. There is also an option to filter search results by colour, although this feature will be of use primarily to buyers who are planning on keeping colour-coded kitchens, rather than egg cup collectors who are more interested in the overall design of the item. Egg cups occasionally turn up outside either of the dedicated sections; this usually occurs when they have a design that marks them out as a different kind of collectable. For example, if an egg cup depicts a popular cartoon character, then it may be sought after by people who collect cartoon-related memorabilia, and may, therefore, end up listed in a different section of eBay. Because of this, it may be worth performing wider searches now and again in case an unusual egg cup has been listed in an unexpected section.
Bidding or Buying
As with most items on eBay, egg cups are both auctioned and sold off directly, those that fall in the latter category being labelled Buy It Now. Many egg cups will be listed by people who are simply hoping to offload unwanted goods and are not looking for a high price; these people are liable to sell their items directly, rather than put them up for auction. However, a look at the egg cups up for sale will generally reveal that most are very recent; many are being sold by online kitchenware stores rather than private individuals. The more interesting and unusual examples of egg cups, then, are usually found amongst the auctions; a search can be restricted to this area by clicking the "auction" button. The competitive element here may be off-putting to some, but generally speaking, egg cups do not receive many bids unless they are unusually desirable. It should not be hard to become the winning bidder on a large number of egg cups.
Condition of Items
As egg cups are generally made from easily-damaged material such as china, some buyers may be concerned about the condition in which the items might arrive. With a few rare exceptions the listings will be accompanied by photographs, of course, but generally only from a single angle and often low-quality. The descriptions provided for each item will usually give a general overview, but any collectors who are dedicated to mint condition egg cups and determined to avoid any chipped or grazed items may wish to send a message to the seller before they place a bid just to make sure. For the most part, however, the low prices of the items will make such concerns unnecessary.
Finding Egg Cups on eBay
The site has two dedicated egg cup sections: for the first, visit the home page, click the "all categories" tab and select Home, Furniture & DIY. Next, select the Cookware, Dining & Bar link, followed by the link to the Tableware, Serving & Linen section and, finally, the link for Egg Cups. This will open up a section whose focus is generally on more recent items that are being sold primarily as kitchenware rather than as collectables; although there will be some vintage and novelty egg cups in this section, it can be easy to lose track of them amongst plainer items. For the second, smaller egg cup section, go to the home page, click All Categories and then select Collectables; go to Kitchenalia, and then Egg Cups. Although the first section is intended for kitchenware buyers and the second for collectors, there is a heavy overlap between the two and little difference in practice. Both are worth a visit, and both will need refined searches to bring out the more relevant items.
Collecting egg cups can be a relaxing, rewarding, and perhaps even surprising hobby, with a seemingly limitless range of items available and new ones being produced every day. Buying them through online auctions may sound stressful but it is in fact a painless and engaging process, opening up access to a wide range of unique items from around the world.