Treasured 1920s ‘doll’ Easter egg up for auction

Charles Hanson with the Easter egg
Charles Hanson with the Easter egg

An Easter egg wrapped up as a doll is going to auction – after being given to a two-year-old in the 1920s, who then treasured it for the rest of her life.

The near-century-old treat, given to Christine Lilian Metcalf by her aunt in 1924, is expected to fetch £200-£300 at a sale in Derbyshire next week.

Etwall-based auction house Hansons described the London-made Pascall’s egg, which stills smells of chocolate, as “the sweetest find”.

Easter Egg

Ms Metcalf died in 2019, at the age of 97, and left the egg in the care of her children.

Born in Islington, north London in April 1922, she is believed to have moved house 10 times before spending the last 30 years of her life in Hulland Ward in Derbyshire.

Speaking ahead of the auction on March 12, Hansons owner Charles Hanson said: “The egg itself is in remarkable condition, having been protected by a decorated egg-shaped casing covered in violets.

“Christine couldn’t bring herself to eat it because she loved the doll so much. The chocolate egg is the body which is dressed in a paper costume with a doll’s head on top.

People are amazed by finds like this. The fact that the egg has survived so long is remarkable in itself, but in today’s throwaway society, when people often have more than they need, they find it incredible that a little girl of two had the self-discipline to never eat it and treasure it forever.”

Lilian\u2019s Easter Egg from 1924 \u2013 credit Mark Laban Hansons 5

The egg is known to have been manufactured by James Pascall Ltd, of Mitcham south London.

Ms Metcalf’s daughter, a 74-year-old retired teacher from Hulland Ward, Derbyshire, said: “Mum used to bring the egg out from time to time to show her children and grandchildren as a special treat.

“You were allowed to touch it, if somewhat gingerly.

“I saw it a dozen times during the course of my life. It was safely tucked away in Mum’s chest of drawers most of the time, which, I suppose, is why it’s survived so well.

“We had no idea it might be worth anything. Hansons happened to be assessing some items at my house and I showed the egg to their valuer.

“He was amazed and said collectors would be interested in buying it.

“Our mother’s mum, Lilian Holt, was the eldest of seven children, all born in and around the First World War. They were not a wealthy family and Mum didn’t have much when she was small, so when her Aunty Polly, or Poll as she was known, gave her the egg it was treasured forever.

“My mother has four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren so it would be impossible to decide who to give it to.

“So my brother and I have decided to sell it in the hope it might be bought by a museum or collector who will treasure it like our mother did.”

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