The holidays and yummy treats just seem to go hand in hand. So of course these remarkable vintage chocolate molds couldn't help but catch my attention at a recent New England Antique Shows event. So, my sweet, take a look at these fun and seasonal treasures. Let's see what makes them so tasty - er, I mean interesting - from the collector's perspective!
These charming treasures give new meaning to the phrase "oldie-moldies!" Here we have three very detailed chocolate molds from the early to mid 1900's. The first is a darling, classic looking Teddy bear. He is 11 inches tall and full figured, meaning that he is authentic from top to bottom! He was produced by the Hornlein company in Germany. The second is a rather funny and clever mold featuring Santa Claus and a little misbehaving boy. It is about 9 inches tall and was also made in Germany, by a company called Herris. The third is a a very realistic looking lobster, of all things! He is about 12 inches long and was made by the American company T. C. Weygandt.
So just how do you "mold" a chocolate mold? Traditionally, the design was produced in plaster by an artist, and the mold was formed from a thin sheet of metal which was pressed tightly against the sculpture. Later, large high pressure machines were able to stamp out the molds in a much more efficient and uniform way. Early molds were made from cast iron and then tin-coated or silver-plated copper. The cast iron models were really heavy to work with, and the plated copper versions had toxic properties. By the end of the 19th century, tin or tin-coated metal molds gained popularity; they are still being used today in some cases. Other traditional mold materials include nickel, steel, and stainless steel. "Old fashioned" molds utilized wire rings, clips, steel pins, and clamps to hold the two halves together. Today, many manufacturers use plastic molds for ease and simplicity for their large scale chocolate novelty production.
Chocolate molds have been giving everyone's favorite treat new dimensions since the early 1800's. The earliest versions were produced in France. By the mid 1800's, several major German manufacturers gained dominance in the marketplace and their products were noted for their exceptional detail and playful natures. By the 1880's, manufacturers in the US were producing molds as well; it is interesting to note that the hub of mold production here in the US at that time was New York City. From a historical perspective, over 25 chocolate mold manufacturers have been identified; their molds varied in size from one inch to over five feet!
The range of vintage chocolate mold designs that were produced is truly astounding. Of course, Santas, rabbits, toys, fairytale characters, and turkeys (for Thanksgiving) have always been popular. However, in some cases, chocolate mold designs also mirrored the time in history in which they were produced. For example, at the turn of last century several manufacturers created molds in the forms of trains, dirigibles, and political figures. These unusual and "period" pieces are of great interest and value to collectors.
I would like to thank Lynne Chrin owner of Partridge Hollow Antiques, from Milton, VT for helping to sweeten up our knowledge about these delightful vintage chocolate molds. Partridge Hollow Antiques specializes in English and American silver, Stoneware, chocolate molds and railroadiana. The company is a regular exhibitor at New England Antique Shows events and will be attending the upcoming Antiques and Vintage Holiday Gift Show in Concord, MA, December 10th and 11th. For more information on these and other vintage chocolate molds, please contact Lynne directly at 802-893-6277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.