Imagine a Button Work Egg Basket with a matching mat and tea cozy sitting on your kitchen table or counter. What a wonderful Victorian accent that would be! The basket could be used for other things besides eggs. If you prefer, breakfast breads or rolls could be kept deliciously warm. Maybe freshly baked cookies could stay scrumptiously warm while waiting to be eaten by an appreciative friend or family member. Whatever you use it for, once you have one, you may wonder how you did without it.
The following information was printed in Cassell's Household Guide: Being a Complete Encyclopaedia of Domestic and Social Economy and Forming a Guide to Every Department of Practical Life in 1869. It has been edited use on this site.
An ornamental addition to the breakfast table is a basket for eggs, to occupy the centre of the table.
It should be of fine, close, fancy wickerwork, either round, oval, or, indeed, of any pretty shape,
and not very deep. It may be either with or without a handle, but is
more graceful and convenient for handing round, if possessing one.
The basket must be well padded within with wadding or soft cotton wool, not tightly strained, and over this is placed the lining of scarlet flannel, also not very tightly strained.
In this basket the eggs are placed, and the wool and flannel serve to retain the heat in them until required for eating; and to ensure their being kept warm, a cover of double flannel, with wool quilted in between, is made of the same shape as the basket, but about half an inch larger, and put over the eggs.
On this cover a border may be worked in buttons, and, when thus finished, the suite —viz., breakfast mat, cosy, and egg basket — will give a cheerful and pretty appearance to the table.
The designs we have already given (see Button Work mats) will be found suitable for the egg-basket also, which is sometimes worked to match the mat and cosy, unless a variety of pattern be preferred for it.
Although we have spoken of this work as being done in the white china buttons only, (see Button Work Mats) many other kinds may be used, according to the taste of the worker. Mother-of pearl buttons have a beautiful effect, and when sewn on a ground of dark blue or violet velvet, present a very rich appearance. The small mother-of-pearl shells, brought from Italy, may be used in the same way as the buttons, and look extremely handsome.
Unfortunately, no engraving for the button work egg basket was furnished with this article. The illustration for the tea cozy and mat (see link above) will give you an idea of what the design suggested looks like.