Tillie Lays an Egg gave me an excuse to buy more vintage chicken items than anyone should ever collect. Most of the items came from ebay. I’d never have been able to accumulate all of the board games seen in the bedroom tableau, or many of the other props used in the book, without that on-line marketplace. But, I also go to flea markets where I find things that I don’t even know I’m looking for.
Last week was Brimfield, one of the biggest and best flea markets in the country. It’s exhausting, but the miles that I walk up and down the aisles always pay off. This year, what I saw made me think about egg holders and how eggs used to be handled and how precious they were. There were plenty of egg baskets at Brimfield. I already have a number, and didn’t purchase a one.
There are large baskets for the commercial farms, and smaller ones for backyard chicken keepers. They are utilitarian and beautiful.
Cardboard egg cartons are a comparatively recent invention. (If you can believe it, I don’t collect them, even though the graphics can be wonderful.) In fact, it wasn’t until the 1930’s that eggs were regularly sorted and packaged in dozens. Nor were eggs refrigerated. They were kept in holders on the counter, or on the kitchen wall. A friend has a metal rack, so I knew such things existed, but it took me two years of searching on ebay to find this one.
I brought this wire rack with me to the Martha Stewart Show. A producer scooped it up and put it front and center for the cooking segment. It got more air time than me! It is special.
Eggs were shipped in wooden crates. There’s always a lot of such boxes at flea markets. More unusual is this egg holder, obviously homemade, with springy wires to hold the eggs safely and gently. I enjoyed looking at it, but didn’t buy it.
Here is my big find at Brimfield. I’ve never seen one of these before.
It’s an egg cabinet with it’s original key. Was this in a store? In a home? Who would lock their eggs up? Do you know?