Keeping an Eye Out For Antique Eyecups

Once a staple in most medicine cabinets, these wee wonders are fun to collect. The best part? It's not an expensive hobby at all!

1 / 3
Eyecup collection
Photo: Courtesy of Lynda Gimby

Once on a staple, now obsolete

The eyecup, once a common item found in most family medicine cabinets, was an early means of treating an injured or infected eye. The process was simple: fill the oval cup with a medicated solution, tip and hold the cup firmly over the open eye for a moment or two, and then drain the cup. With the advent of eye droppers and plastic drop bottles, however, the eyecup became obsolete.

2 / 3
Eyecup collection
Photo: Courtesy of Lynda Gimby

Friendly competition

A collection of antique eyecups does not take up a lot of room and is not an expensive hobby. They can be displayed in old medicine cabinets or shadow boxes, and I have seen several collections displayed on windowsills.

My brother, Bill, began his eyecup collection in 1973, at the age of 30. He currently lives in Hubbards, Nova Scotia, and I live in Wirral, New Brunswick. As a result, whenever I found items he could add to his collection, I would send them over to him by mail. That is how my personal interest in eyecups began, and I soon began collecting them, too, which quickly evolved into a friendly competition between Bill and me.

Take a peek at this impressive rare pin collection.

3 / 3
Eyecup collection
Photo: Courtesy of Lynda Gimby

Antique eyecups from around the world

We went on many road trips together over the years, stopping at garage sales and flea markets along the way. Sometimes I would even race Bill’s wife Bonnie out of the car to see who could find the first cup! My assemblage of antique eyecups eventually outgrew my brother’s, but as time has passed, our collections have both become unique in their own ways. My daughter, Stacey, even brought me a couple of eyecups from Australia! Even though she doesn’t actively collect on her own, she’s always trying to find different ones for me to show off. My collection is displayed in our bathroom and is a source of fascination for our friends and neighbours. Much to their amazement, I have managed to fit about 300 eyecups on our bathroom shelf!

Can’t get enough antique treasures? Check out this amazing phonograph collection.

Originally Published in Our Canada

Newsletter Unit