Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Egg coddler

Egg coddler

  • Place of origin:

    Sheffield (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1890 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Walker & Hall Ltd. (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electroplated nickel silver, with engraved ornament

  • Museum number:

    M.23:1 to 4-2000

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125b, case 2 []

Object Type
Using an egg boiler or steamer, eggs could be prepared at the table and served hot and fresh to diners. A frame within the vessel held the egg under the boiling water, and the cover prevented hot steam from escaping and assisted the boiling process.

Design & Decoration
The earliest egg boilers date from the 1790s.They were usually oval, hemispherical or cylindrical in shape, on openwork feet, with the lamp resting between. They catered for between four and six eggs. This boiler is typical of late 19th-century examples, with complementary ornament such as the chicken finial on the lid and the engraved farmyard scenes. Some egg boilers had larger stands to accommodate egg cups.

Materials & Making
Walker & Hall were important manufacturing and retailing silversmiths in the 19th century, with a factory in Sheffield that supplied markets throughout the world with cheap electroplated goods from cutlery to tea wares and race prizes. The founder, George Walker, worked as an assistant to Dr John Wright, who conducted experiments that led to the development of commercial electroplating. Walker understood the significance of the new process, which could produce a cheap substitute for silver. Licensed by Elkington & Co., electroplating was a technique by which silver could be deposited on a base metal alloy, usually nickel, by the action of an electric current.

Physical description

Oval egg boiler with domed lid surmounted by a cast chicken. The sides of the lid are engraved with flowers and pastoral scenes. The egg boiler is set upon three scrolling supports under which is an openwork spirit lamp on a circular base.

Place of Origin

Sheffield (made)


ca. 1890 (made)


Walker & Hall Ltd. (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Electroplated nickel silver, with engraved ornament

Marks and inscriptions

Mark engraved: "WALKER AND HALL SHEFFIELD WARRANTED HARD AND SILVER SOLDERED, 39, 51255" and pennant with "W&H".
On the base.


Height: 23 cm, Diameter: 12.5 cm, Diameter: 15.2 cm including foot from heater

Object history note

This is a vessel for coddling or boiling up to 8 eggs. Usually in the form of a cylindrical or vase-shaped receptacle with either a flat or a domed lid. Central vertical handle with loop at top to lift out integral egg stand from water. Stand for a spirit lamp. Also known as an 'egg boiler' or 'egg steamer'.

A similar coddler, also with a cast chicken on the lid, features in the J.Dixon & Sons catalogue of 1892 in electroplated nickel silver, priced 34s. For four eggs. Known here as an egg boiler.

Manufactured by Walker & Hall, Sheffield

Descriptive line

Electroplated egg coddler with integral egg stand and spirit lamp, Sheffield, Walker and Hall, about 1890

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The egg boiler or steamer cooked eggs at the table using the heat from a spirit lamp. Lightly boiled eggs could be eaten at breakfast, or in the late afternoon, at high tea. A similar egg boiler was advertised in the catalogue of James Dixon & Sons of 1892 for 34s (£1.70p). [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Reason For Production: Retail


Nickel silver



Subjects depicted



Eating; Metalwork; Food vessels & Tableware; British Galleries

Production Type

Mass produced


Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.