Easter Extravaganza Part 2: Candy Containers

Although I seem to have an insatiable lust for all things vintage Christmas, the fervor hasn’t carried over into other holiday-themed collections for me. When Tammy asked the Snag team if we had vintage Easter items to share I knew I only had a couple things to offer—but I also knew where to find the mother load. Literally. My mom’s collection of vintage Easter decorations has been growing for years. Recently I stopped by to pick up a few of my favorites from her collection. At the top of my list: vintage candy containers. Just as long as people have been after delicious, pastel candy, retailers have been devising festive ways to make it even more alluring to children and adults alike. Despite their disposable nature, these beautiful paper, papier maché and tin containers have survived the ages to delight us still today.


Lithographed paper Easter eggs from Germany were the standard bearers of holiday candy from the turn of the last century through most of the 20th century. They came in a variety of sizes from very small to very large and were originally packed with delicious treats. These particular eggs are early examples dating from the 1900s.

Antique Eggs

1900s candy eggs ranging in size from 3 to 6 inches


Victorian children’s characters were a little less child-like

The intricacy of the lithographed designs and detailing of the applied paper trims are truly fascinating—its really not surprising that people couldn’t bring themselves to throw them out. Detailed as they are, they were mass-produced and once you really start looking for them, you’ll see the same patterns over and over, often used on different sized eggs like these with a dignified rabbit design.


The poor man’s Fabergé

Antique Chick

Chicks and ducks are a recurring theme

The design continues on the inside with embossed paper lace and lithographed paper lining. The key to an egg’s age also lies on the inside. Although the designs and construction of these eggs are pretty strong clues as to age, the “Germany” stamp confirms that this egg was made before WWII. Eggs made later hail from either West Germany or the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Antique Egg Stamp

As gorgeous as the Victorian eggs are, the storybook eggs from the post-war era are so irresistibly cute. Through the ages children’s illustrations moved from more realistic depictions of nature toward the cartoon-like personified animal characters we all love. These designs are so colorful and fun, it’s hard not to get a little giddy when you see them.

Eggs from the 1940s–1950s

Eggs from the 1940s–1950s

1950s Eggs

Eggs from the 1950s–1960s

The transition from life-like to cartoon is another cue for dating eggs

The transition from life-like to cartoon is another clue for dating eggs

Mid-century eggs are structurally identical to their antique predecessors and were all made in Western Germany—at least those that made their way to the U.S. These eggs have been reproduced in recent years and the “Made in Western Germany” mark printed in the lining pattern is important for telling the difference. Another tell-tale sign is how the graphics are applied. In close-ups of these eggs, notice how the paper wrap is formed by slits around the sides. On newer eggs the wrap looks smashed at the edges and has no slits.

Signs of post-war influence: the Easter Bunny on a Vespa

Signs of post-war influence: the Easter Bunny on a Vespa

These ducks appear to be new parents to—chickens?

Even ducks like eggs with a surprise inside

Who knew ducks were an Easter icon?

Who knew ducks were an Easter icon?

Although graphics are usually a good indicator of age, occasionally you’ll get thrown for a loop. I would have assumed these gold eggs were from the 1920s or 1930s based on their design.

Gold Eggs

But this inscription found inside the egg tells a different story. I would love to know what Suzi put inside the egg all those years ago.

I love finding personal notes on vintage stuff!

I love finding personal notes on vintage stuff!

Gold Eggs Detail

This terrifying mushroom should have probably been a clue that it was from the 1960s

This terrifying mushroom should have probably been a clue that it was from the 1960s

In the 1970s, eggs began making their way over from East Germany. The almost crudely drawn cartoon figures are easy to pick out of a line-up. The quality of the East German eggs is also notably poorer. Still, you’ve got to give credit to the comrades on the other side of the wall for coming up with anything cheery under Soviet rule.

1970s East German Eggs

Off-brand feeling 1970s East German eggs

Eggs stamped "German Democratic Republic" are from East Germany between 1949 and 1990

Eggs stamped “German Democratic Republic” are from East Germany between 1949 and 1990

In true American fashion, domestic Easter eggs from the middle of the 20th century were made of easily mass-producible stamped steel. These eventually made way for the snap-together plastic eggs from my childhood. Although lacking in detail compared to German paper, they’re still pretty cute.

1950s metal eggs

1950s metal eggs

Egg have always been a classic choice, but what would Easter be without the Easter bunny? For years children poured their jelly beans and candy treats out of bunny-shaped papier mâché candy containers. These first two rabbits are from my personal collection and are made of plaster of Paris poured over a paper shell with removable heads to insert the candy. Their fragility makes them a somewhat difficult find—both of mine have had ears and legs broken off and re-glued. But at 80 years old, possibly older, they aren’t doing so bad.

1910s bunny, left; 1930s bunny, right

1910s bunny, left; 1930s bunny, right

Horrifying, but nothing a little chocolate wouldn't help you get over

Horrifying, but nothing a little chocolate wouldn’t help you get over

These papier mâché bunnies from the 1930s and 1940s are also coated in plaster of Paris but a much lighter weight than the headless rabbits. Ranging in height from about three inches to over a foot, they usually feature brightly colored air-brushed paint details. Some of these have baskets that can be filled with candy, others have an opening in the bottom that was originally sealed with a paper plug. It amazes me that any of these survived the ages.

1930s papier maché bunnies

1930s papier maché bunnies

If only candy still came in such wonderful packages today—I’d gladly give up shrink-wrap and plastic eggs for a little festive flair any day.


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