A WWII Egg Box, Sevenoaks, Kent

The thought of sending eggs in today’s post is quite frankly laughable, even with fragile tape, special containers and pleas for caution, things don’t always arrive in the condition that one would like but during World War II eggs became a rare and special cargo.

1940's Egg Box - ©Sevenoaks Library
1940’s Egg Box – ©Sevenoaks Library

Rationing restricted adults to one fresh egg per week and families were forced to rely on dried egg powder sent over from America to help fill the gap.  Raw egg, separated from all liquid, does not sound appetising at the best of times but when it’s been dried, compacted into a tin canister and shipped halfway around the world it loses even more of its appeal. During World War II, however, it became an essential.  Fresh eggs were a luxury that only a few had access to and those that did tried to help friends and relatives by sending eggs through the post.

Special cartons such as this one displayed at the Sevenoaks Museum helped to deliver them safely.  Made from cardboard by the Raylite Box company in Liverpool during the 1940’s, it has one layer containing six compartments for the eggs to lie in and a lid section with a further compartmental covering to help prevent the eggs from breaking.

Their arrival must have been a cause for celebration but I wonder how many actually arrived in tact and fresh enough to eat? Does anyone remember receiving one of these?

Rachael

Many thanks to Sue Gosling, the Curator at Sevenoaks Museum, for allowing me to feature part of her war time collection here. Although compact the museum has over 3,000 local gems on show and in store and you can find visitor details here.

16 Comments

  1. blosslyn

    I suppose they could still have had scrambled eggs 🙂 found this really interesting as we have have our own chickens and we have just bought egg boxes, but not for sending 🙂

  2. oddlyactive

    A few years ago I remember seeing powdered egg appear on supermarket shelves. Obviously some bright spark had the idea that the same idiots who bought (i.e.) ready-made pancake mixes and powders and instant mash would prefer instant eggs too. Not sure if the History Magpie flies as far afield as Heathfield, but I remember one rather horrible egg (well, chicken) related fact I read in a local history book: The ‘Chicken Crammer’, a machine for force-feeding & fattening young chickens for market, was invented there. *shudder*

  3. gdwest123

    Excellent and interesting post Rachael. Many years ago, my great uncle was furious when every time he sent something breakable through the post, it was always smashed on arrival, no matter how many ‘fragile’, ‘please handle with care’ notices he wrote on it. Finally he packed for despatch some delicate china items in a parcel and wrote on it ‘bricks – don’t bother!’ It arrived with the contents unbroken.

  4. joskehan

    I remember my Gran telling all of us kids about how sad and guilty she felt to read that city folk had to use powdered eggs in their cooking/baking in the war years…..my grandparents owned a huge cattle and dairy property in Queensland, Australia, and Gran always had her own chickens…usually a couple dozen of them at least who all laid their big eggs in the hen house, and then chickens who went broody and hatched out little chicks….much to our delight!!

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