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Sandy Erdman: Where to find those useful, decorative cookie cutters

December 2, 2018

Cookie cutters found with Laurie Rucker.

I bet you didn’t know that cookies were invented centuries ago by bakers who used dabs of cake batter to test their oven temperature. The word “cookie” comes from the Dutch word “koekje,” meaning little cake.

There is nothing like a plate of beautifully decorated cookies to highlight your Christmas table or to give to a special friend, elderly or shut-in this Tuesday (National Cookie Day). And we can’t forget the memories of making cut-out cookies with family. Some families make it a day of cutting out cookies with children and grandchildren.

The first American manufactured cookie cutters were made after the end of the Civil War. Collectors are always looking for these cutters, marked by companies like Dover, Mason, Kreamer, Fries and Hillson. A cutter with one of these names is worth so much more than one without from that early time period.

Early tin cutters were often made with a tin plate in the back and sometimes a handle. These are the most sought after. I have also found some with one or two circular holes cut into the back to push stuck dough out of the cutter.

The most common cutters are the fluted star and round shapes. A 19th century iron or tin flat-back cutter will can sell for $10 or more. Some collectors are willing to pay a few hundred dollars for rarer unique designs. Most of the early cutters are found today in museums as part of a collection and a few at times have popped up at country auctions.

Around the 1920s, aluminum was the favored material for cutters, then came plastic. Plastic is not in the same class as the handmade tin cutters, though Hallmark has sold more than 300 different plastic style cutters, and many were only available for a short time.

Locally, we can find cutters made by Joyce and Al Moorhouse, of Cannon Falls, as they are known by all as the “Cookie Cutter Couple” who run a small home business, ASM Cutters and Things. So if you see a cutter with “ASM,” it is Al’s work of art.

For more information on cookie cutters, I recommend “300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles,” by Linda Campbell; and Antique Trader’s “Kitchen Collectibles Price Guide,” by Kyle Husfloen. Chapter 2 of Husfloen’s book shows us some good examples of advertising cookie cutters from the early 1900s. The 1900 cutter the “Cavalryman” is valued at $489.

Where to find

From antique malls to thrift shops and more, we can find cutters. Teachers like to find them for projects and cookie making, too. The favorite is the large gingerbread cutters, as they are easy for little kids to handle and decorate those large cookies.

Joan Thilges, of New Generations of Harmony Antique Mall, said, “We do have a number of cookie cutters. Last year I added some ribbon to old cutters and sold them as ornaments.”

Chris Rand Kujath, of the Old River Valley Antique Mall, Stewartville: “The mall has a variety of cookie cutters including metal, plastic, holiday, animals and some in packages. I have also made in the past many ornament cookie cutter trees.”

Wanda Patzner, of Carries Closet, St. Charles: “I do have cutters priced from $1 to $3. And some buy the cutters to decorate their tree in the kitchen.”

Laurie Rucker, of Vintage Treasures and Home Decor, St. Charles: “I have several for sale, the most popular have the red and green handles. My favorites are the miniature cutters. I’ve used them on packages to match the gift wrap or the gift itself. Cookie cutters and rolling pins always bring back fond memories of time spent with loved ones that have passed, more than any gift that I ever received! Prices range from 50 cents on up to $3.”

Also in St. Charles is Sarah Kieffer, Sarah’s Uniques and Jim’s “Man”tiques: “I do have a ton of cookie cutters for Christmas. They range in price from $1-$6. I have some very old cutters, some very small and really big cutters too! I have found that ladies love to use not only for baking, but also to decorate cute little counter and table trees and more!

Shayna Dais, of the Rusty Bucket, Winona, “has LOTS of holiday cookie cutters ranging in price from $1 up to $4. We will have the cutters out and cookies to taste at our Holiday Open House this weekend.”

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