Sweet find at the 400-Mile Yard Sale

Published 5:15 pm Friday, June 14, 2019


Personal Effects

Question: Hello Jerry. Traveling this year’s 400-Mile Yard Sale northward to the Ohio River we came across this wonderful antique iron piece. It was represented by the dealer as a mid-1800s candy mold.

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Hope you can confirm his thoughts, or identify its age, origin (there are no identifying marks), value and actual purpose.

The dealer thought that it originally came from the Buckeye State. Back a century or so ago. Local folks often collected maple syrup in the fall then cooked it down and made a good bit of maple candy.

The total length, closed is 19 inches. The rectangle mold is 7 inches wide by 5 inches high. It closes down very tightly to form whatever it produces.

We’d appreciate your thoughts on it being used — either for that purpose, or some other tool for early home products. Thank you.

Answer: Well, you’re kind of close. It’s a sweet treat anyway. You have a cookie or wafer mold,

or press, as some would call it. It certainly makes sense that it could have come from a German settlement in Ohio. It came from there, but it likely originated from Europe — probably Germany. It’s a beautiful piece. Wafers that would have come from this mold would have been a thin batter type affair. Flavored with anise, vanilla or, if you were really rich, lemon or orange zest. Only a few tablespoons were placed in the oiled and heated mold. The handles were long, as it was likely used over an open fire in a fireplace. Cooked in this manner until the wafers were barely, and I mean barely, golden brown.

They were lightly sweet and crunchy, think of an ice cream cone, but more pale in color. Added to that the patterns really made them a tasty treat, not just for mouth, but for the eyes.

There is just no way that it was used for maple sugar candy. Maybe flavored with maple or served with maple syrup, but not candy. Maple sugar candy is thick and tooth achingly sweet.

These wafer molds have been around for centuries. In Italy they would be called pizzelle. These

would have been like stroopwafels. A dutch treat that translates to “syrup waffle.” All of these things would have been closely linked. Mainly, they were delicious. In some form or fashion, there molds are still available, most are electric. It’s funny, but electrical cords make it much easier to date.

I agree with a date of 1850s–1870s, or thereabout. Not ancient, but certainly not modern. I did find one other identical example online. I also found an identified American example, but it was slightly crude, with its bald eagles and it was so rare that it almost cost the world.

It’s a great addition to any period kitchen, or for the advanced cooking collector. I expect that at a good antiques show it would be priced for about $150. Thanks for sharing this with us. You should try to use it some time if you have an open, wood burning fireplace.