The earliest cutters for pastries and cookies, or "biscuits" as they were called in England, imprinted designs on the surface of dough. These “imprint cutters,” first made in Italy, were used in England kitchens starting in the 1400s to make gingerbread figures in the shape of celebrities like Queen Elizabeth I or Lord Wellingtion the First. These were followed by outline cutters, made from a flat piece of bent wood like pear, walnut, or beech, with a cutting edge and handle.

Beginning in the 1600s, Dutch and German settler housewives in Pennsylvania were known for producing large batches of cookies around Christmastime. Their wide array of cookie shapes included doves, cockerels, human figures such as Belznickel (a pre-Santa character), and the bald eagle.

Pennsylvania Germans also brought their honey cakes, marzipan, and gingerbread to America. They patterned their cake dough and almond paste with “springerle” or hand-carved marzipan molds that are minor artworks in and of themselves. Cheaper handmade tin cutters were offered by rural tinsmiths in commons shapes of people, animals, stars, spades, and hearts. The more unusual the shape, the more collectible the cookie cutter, like those in the form of reindeer, mounted figures, and clowns.

Old tin can be identified from modern metals as it is relatively heavy and thick, usually darkened in color. These cutters make 3/4-inch to 1 1/8-inch deep cuts. The back of antique cutters are flat and may or may not have strap handles. Because tinsmiths tried to conserve every possible inch of metal they could, older backs are more or less cut to the shape of the cutting edge. These also have “air holes” or “push holes,” which helped detach the cookie dough from the cutter.

In the mid-19th century, metal cookie cutters were mass-produced, and by the mid-20th century, they were also made of plastic. Vintage cookie cutters from the last century may have handles made of wood, metal, or plastic. Aluminum cutters can date to 1900, but are far more common from the 1930s. Metal cookie cutters with “bullet” handles are especially sought after by collectors. In general, figurals like chickens and elephants tend to be more valuable than geometric shapes.

Cookie cutters in the shapes of the four suits of playing cards were often sold as sandwich cutters—which have deeper edges than regular cookie cutters—designed to add whimsy to a poker or bridge party. Some of the more clever cookie cutters, like the “In-Genia Rotating Cutter” from West Germany, made several different designs with one rotating tool.

In England, Tala first offered its pastry-cutter sets in the early 1930s in painted tins. These tins can be dated by their colors: In the 1930s, they came in pastels, while the o...

Plastic cutters from the 1940s make deep cuts and come in transparent red and green colors. Opaque plastic cutters didn’t really show up until the 1960s, and they tend to make shallower cuts. Shapes include Santas and bunnies for Christmas and Easter, popular cartoon characters, flags for the Fourth of July, and profiles of the Statue of Liberty. Licensed cookie cutters from more recent decades include Looney Tunes, Mario Brothers, Barbie, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Top American makers of cookie cutters are Ekco, Midwestern Home Products, and Hallmark, whose cutters from the late '70s and early '80s are relatively collectible.

Recently, collectors have gravitated toward plastic cutters that advertise businesses. The vintage American cutters are marked “Made in the U.S.A.,” while new ones are generally made in Hong Kong.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Soldered Tin "running Pig" Cookie Cutter !! Early Pig Cookie CutterAntique Soldered Tin Bird Cookie Cutter. Folky Bird Tin Cookie Cutter. AafaWonderful Large 19th C. Antique Early Tin Pa.- Noah's Ark Cookie Cutter -excAntique Soldered Tin "lady W/face" Cookie Cutter. Rare Tin Cookie Cutter. AafaH.c. Rhodes Bakery Equipment Kook-e-king Automatic Cookie Depositor / Cutter19th C. Pa. Antique Tin Cookie Cutter Of A Folky HeartAntique Tin Cookie Cutter - Cat Shape Halloween Nice ConditionAntique Primitive Tin Metal Cookie Cutter Eagle 16 Antique Tin Cookie Cutters3 Arc My Little Pony Cookie Cutters; 1985 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.2 Antique Soldered Tin Cookie Cutters !! Early Tin Rabbit Cookie Cutter. Aafa1930s Vintage Metal Rabbit Cookie Cutter Formay Tin Large Bunny Easter Advert2 Old Tin Cookie Cutters,handmade,tulip & Rocking Horse Fairy Tale Cinderella Shoe Carriage Princess Cookie Cutter Cutters 3 Pc 22 Antique Vintage Metal Cookie Cutters Art Deco Handle Cat Rabbit Miniature Martha Stewart Green Scalloped 6pc Bakeware Biscuit Cutters BhfoVintage Martha Stewart "nutcracker" Copper Cookie CutterVintage Nordic Ware Deluxe Cookie King Press Spritz Gun With BoxAntique Primitive Folk Art Tin Cookie Cutter Running HorseLarge Lot Of Vintage Metal Cookie Cutters Approx. 70 In Lot Mixed3d Hello Kitty Biscuit Mold Cookies Mold Biscuit Cutter Baking & Pastry ToolsJapanese Anime Doraemon & Dorami The Robot Cat Cookie Cutter Pull Press Mold Vintage Large Lot Easy Bake Oven Pots Pans Alumin Roaster Cakes Cookie CutterPatinaed Vintage Cape Cod Copper Works "pig" Cookie CutterHuge Estate Lot Of 150 Plastic Cookie Cutters Hallmark Tupperware Wilton Hrm EucLg. Antique C.1840 Dark Tin Lamb Sheep Flatback Cookie Cutter Pa Dutch Folk ArtLg. Vintage Tin Man's Hand Flatback Cookie Cutter Folk Art Signed P. W. Blum Iii~vintage Red Plastic Hrm Holiday Christmas Cookie Cutters & More! L@@k! No Res~Vintage 1979 Hallmark Smiling Bunny Easter Cookie Cutter! Sweet!Lot Of Vintage Plastic Cookie Cutter Snoopy Peanuts Charlie Brown Lucy CartoonLot Of 22 Metal Cookie Cutters Multiple ShapesVintage Antique Veritas Biscuit CuttersSolid Copper Bramen Copper Gifts Spider Web Halloween Large Cookie Cutter 5x5"Vintage Plastic Holly Hobbie Cookie Cutters American Greetings 1976Solid Copper Large Firecracker Fourth Of July Cookie Cutter 7x2.5"Pacman Plastic Cookie Cutters Namco Retro Vintage Game Nerdy Baking GiftVintage Mirro Aluminum All Season Cookie Cutters Christmas Turkey Shapes +4pcs Handbag Cake Decroation Cookie Sugarcraft Cutter Chocolate Plunger MouldAntique Soldered Tin Primitive Bunny Rabbit Cookie Cutter 3.5"4pcs Baby Cake Decroation Cookie Sugarcraft Cutter Chocolate Plunger Mold Mould12pcs Steel Flower Cake Cookie Biscuit Egg Fondant Mould Mold Sugarcraft CutterAnimal Giraffe Cookie Biscuit Cutter Cake Pastry Bread Mould Mold Baking Tools3d Mickey Mouse Biscuit Mold Cookies Mold Biscuit Cutter Baking & Pastry ToolsCookie Cutters VintageDog Treat Baking Set W/cookbook, Potholders And Sighthound Cookie CutterVintage Easter Wilton Great Eggs Sugar Panoramic Egg Kit + Wilton Cookie CuttersHolly Hobbie Pillsbury Rare Vintage Home-baked Cookie Cutters Bake Set 1976 BoxVintage Large Chicken Dough CutterPomeranian ~ Copper Dog Cookie Cutter ~ Hand Crafted By The Fussy PupBorzoi Dog Mug And Sighthound Cookie CutterStar Wars Cookie Cutters3 Pc Solid Copper Large Cookie Cutters Xo Hugs Kisses 4.5x4" And 4.25x3"Vintage Mirro Aluminum Cooky And Pastry Press Complete Original Box Pre Owned Fun Lot Of Pretzel Cookie Cuttters! Big & Little! Sweet!Quality Heavy-duty Metal Easter Spring Cookie Cutters Set Of 8, 3-4" Avg SizeGooseberry Patch 8 Piece Mini Metal Animal Cookie Cutters & Tin Noah's Ark-farm3x Rocking Horse Fondant Cake Plunger Cookie Cutter Chocolate Molds Mould BakingVintage Hallmark 1980's Duckling W Flower Easter Cookie Cutter! Last One!Wilton Hoppy Shapes 4-pc. Cookie Cutter SetVtg. 1958 United Artists Rare "snoopy" Plastic Cookie Cutters Set Of (4)