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Copper pudding mold shows glimpse of upper-class dining in 1890’s

By JERRY SAMPSON

Personal Effects

Question: Hi Jerry, OK what can you tell me about my old Jello mold? My husband says I ruined it as I polished the dickens out of it and now it’s pink.

But it was so dark and kind of gummy. Is it a Jello mold and where was it made and does it have any value? Thanks for looking at it. Did I mess it up?

Answer: First off this isn’t what you would call a “Jell-O” mold. It’s more like a mold for steamed puddings, like plum pudding — just in time for the Christmas holiday. You have a real copper food mold. Not one of those pink-ish colored, thin gauge aluminum jobs that you got with Top Value stamps.

This would have been bought from a fine kitchen supply house or a small factory that manufactured only copper cookware. Fancy molds in upper-class households were once the norm.

As we’ve discussed earlier, in regards to tablewares, dining was a status conscious game. You didn’t always have your pudding, steamed or boiled, in a muslin bag. If you had the money and the staff, you used a fine copper mold in some elaborate shape. This showed that you had the ingredients to have a pudding and you had the money to purchase a fine flashy mold.

Molds have been used for foods for centuries. But the 1870s to the early 1900s saw

them grow in complexity and size. Just do a Google search sometime. The sizes and shapes are staggering.

Thank you for all the nice photos they really helped a lot. I only saw some numbers on the side. Likely this is a model number. The English were really strict on hallmarking their metal wares.

This could have escaped being marked or taxed. It’s either English or French. But that locking mechanism on the side makes me think that this piece dates to the 1890s.

Two schools of thought on the polishing aspects. Some think that all copper should have its old patina. I agree with that, to a degree. However, I think that kitchen copper and brass should be well polished. Just look at “Downton Abbey.” It gleams there, as they had the help to polish it.

That pink color that your husband dislikes is its proper color and appearance. I don’t think that old copper should be buffed, polished and scoured until it looks new. Don’t have it lacquered either. That’s just a mess when it breaks apart in a few years.

Early and fine copper cookware is considered choice for people to decorate with and for cooks to use.

I think that at a good antiques show or fine store that your copper mold would be priced at about $175. It’s a great piece. Keep it polished. Thanks for sharing it with us.