Cutting Up with Antique Tin Cookie Cutters
Just about every country and folk art antique show and shop has tin cookie cutters for sale; with prices ranging from a few dollars to the low four figures. Many people collect them for their folk art and decorative value, not to mention that for some of us they evoke wonderful memories of baking and holidays.
Carved wooden cookie cutters go back thousands of years. Tin cookie cutters became available toward the end of the 1700s. American tin cookie cutters were made with a full plate on the back of them – while the European ones tended to be just outline of the shape. Many of the American cookie cutters have holes in the back plate – which could be used to help push out the sticky dough once the cookie was cut.
In America, early cookies cutters were shaped as hearts, hands, simple animals and stars. The tin was cut out, shaped and then soldered onto the tin plate. Sometimes handles were also soldered onto the plate. Since solder was very expensive in the 1700s and early 1800s, they typically were made with just little dabs of solder to hold the tin together. As solder became less expensive, more of it was used and you will see large welds in cookie cutters starting around 1830.
Tinsmiths traveled around the country providing tin goods for households. In the process, they would take scrape tin from other projects to make a cookie cutter. Each was unique with slightly different shapes. After the Civil War, cookie cutters started to be manufactured with more standard designs, often more complicated. In the 1920s, aluminum became the preferred material – they were lighter in weight and kept their shiny appearance.
Antique tin cookie cutters derive their value in much the same way as other antiques – availability and condition. An older tin cookie cutter has a darker appearance – the less solder the better. Look for good condition in the tin with no holes, rust or breaks. More solder is not necessarily bad unless it looks like it was a repair. Rare designs include heart in hand, hand, stags, trees, stylized people, peafowl, boots or shoes. Any design on larger cookie cutters are worth more – people, horses, hears, people riding horses are some examples of these larger ones. More common ones include farm animals (chickens, roosters, pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, ducks, and simple birds).
Search for tin cookie cutters and more on Dig Antiques.
Here are a few interesting tin cookie cutter references:
Cookie Cutters Can Make a Big Impact
We have been collecting cookie cutters for years and have displayed them in many ways – in old glass jars (with a tin cover of course), on an old bread board, hanging from a wreath or other decoration and other places around the house. The one way that has made the most impact is our kitchen display. We painted the walls in the kitchen a deep reddish-brown and then painted a 6 inch wide white stripe about 5 inches from the ceiling. Our cookie cutter collection is displayed along this stripe as an alternative border. We have recently been reminded by a few first time visitors how unique this decorative accent is. What unique ways have you found to display your antiques?
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Tom & Sheila Baker
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