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Antique 18th Century? Carved Gingerbread Mold

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Wooden Folk Art Objects320 of 826Old wood Japanese buckets,  10 inches X 7 inches, carved from one piece of woodScandinavian wood carved treen or Modern ashtray?
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    Posted 6 years ago

    (1 item)

    I am hoping someone can help identify the age and country of origin of this fantastic wood carving. This is an exceptionally large carving - note the egg carton for perspective. This was definitely carved to be a mold! Note the deep carved connection between the body and the hand on the left side. This would only have been done to facilitate removing the finished item from the mold.

    The carved figure seems to be dressed in a very old European uniform or costume. At first it looks like a uniform as the man is wearing a sword but there are bells like a jestor might wear on the ends of his sleeves and on his ankles. With his long hair and mustache and sword he might even be one of the three Musketeers? Note the detail is so intense in this carving that the sword has a bird's head that even has an eye carved into it. The carver must have been a very accomplished wood worker.

    This is very heavy and seems too large to be a cookie mold but I don’t know what else it could have been used for. The wood block (without the wood frame) is slightly irregular in shape and measures between 8 3/4" and 9 1/4" wide by between 22 3/8" and 22 1/2 tall". The wood is very dense and may be Walnut or a similar hard wood. It is about 1 1/4" thick and the image is carved over 5/8" deep in places. It doesn't seem like it was ever a perfect rectangle. The carved image is about 8 3/4" by 19 1/2" at its largest points. The frame is certainly not original and was hastily added using scrap wood of different widths and thicknesses. It looks to have been added to protect the image from the disintegration of the wood that is visible on the back side – maybe added 50-75 years ago judging by the odd sizes of the wood strips and the old, rusty nails? There is a very large area of dry rot that is almost all the way through and about to damage the image. There are also quite a few worm holes like those often found in 17th and 18th century European furniture.

    If anyone can shed any light on this object please send me a note. Any thoughts or theories will be appreciated.

    Thanks for looking!

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    1. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      You say the image is 5/8" deep in places. So the image is recessed & not relief ? Hard to tell by the pix.. The clothing is more or less generic old European style & I would lean toward low lands (maybe Flemish). Not sure if it isn't a wall hanger instead of a mold. Most people are right handed & he would come out left handed. Also not so sure about assumed age range without hands-on inspection. If art work, recessed carving is much easier that relief. My final opinion is : I don't know ! And that's official ! It's hard or impossible to do an accurate evaluation by pix.
    2. Joneebgood, 6 years ago
      Thank you very much for the reply. Yes, I have learned that this type of carved molds were popular in Europe and especially Belgium or Holland so the clothes could be Flemish. That is a lot more information than I had before. I think it was carved as a mold because of the carved connection between the body and the hand on the left side. I cannot imagine spoiling the looks of a purely artistic carving by adding that additional connection except as a means to facilitate removing the casting from the mold. Centered above the head and not really visible in these photos are stamped initials. Capitalized and a seemingly older font "IDP". Does that mean anything? See photos at
      Thank you again for taking the time to offer your opinion.
    3. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Whoa! I gave an opinion. Not information to be taken as fact ! I don't think it is a mold ! I think it's a nice wall hanger. As a mold for bread, gingerbread, or whatever medium, it is not smooth enough to prevent pieces of the medium from sticking in the crevices . It would have to be oiled down liberally with something & there is no evidence of that. I repeat : I think it is a nice piece of wall art. We are all guilty of believing that something is what it is not. Getting over that hump is not easy, but is a graduation to a higher level as a collector. Also known as being honest with yourself .
    4. Joneebgood, 6 years ago
      Thanks for your opinion. Did you visit the other photos on my web page? For years this has hung on my wall as a beautiful example of the wood carver's art but one day I noticed the carved connection between the body and the hand and I realized there was no reason to carve that except, perhaps, as a mold release. So I am exploring other uses of the carving. I have seen others labeled as "molds" that looked very similar although very few are as large as this one. Meantime, it still hangs on the wall and still looks great there.
    5. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Beautiful piece. Reliefs always get my attention.
    6. Hunter Hunter, 6 years ago
      There are actually examples of similar figural molds, used to make Tirggel (traditional Swiss Christmas biscuits) in this CW article: Might be worth contacting a museum or folk-art collection to see what they can tell you about the provenance?
    7. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Good lead Hunter & a great write up.
    8. Hunter Hunter, 6 years ago
      thanks BB! :)
    9. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Hunter, I guess I should welcome Jonee to "CyberAsylum, aka CW" LOL!! Does that both you & the other staff people. Now's you chance to speak up ! LOL!!
    10. Hunter Hunter, 6 years ago
      Oh, we are well aware of the heavy dose of insanity BB ;)
    11. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      That's good to know ! Insanity is hereditary you know. You get it from your kids .
    12. Hunter Hunter, 6 years ago
      Hence my childless state - we manage plenty of children here on Show & Tell. ;)
    13. Joneebgood, 6 years ago
      Hunter, thank you for posting the link to that great article. Very interesting and informative. Those wood carvings do seem very similar although they are relief and mine is recessed.
    14. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Same here (well, not in SXM). Children are just too, - - - immature !
      Jonee, do your research & get back to us . I'm really curious as to what you come up with. Interesting piece.
    15. Hunter Hunter, 6 years ago
      If we're talking about the same images - the two side by side in the article - I'm pretty certain they are also recessed.
    16. Joneebgood, 6 years ago
      I was looking at it as if the light was coming from the right casting shadows on a raised image. I guess, if the light was on the left there could be a shadow in the recess in the same spot? As Blunderbuss2 first mentioned it is very hard to tell raised from recessed in these photos. It seems that springerle and tirggel biscuits were all very thinly made and my mold probably would not be appropriate as it is too deep. Here is a link to a good history of cookie molds that leads me to think it may have been used for gingerbread.
    17. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Jonee. You have done some great research. Was this from Hunter's directions ? I don't need to read the book, just the Cliffnotes. Sorry, but it's late here. Hunter, I leave you in charge to guide the FNG. LOL!! A demain
    18. Hunter Hunter, 6 years ago
      Yeah, gingerbread sounds right. You should make a batch! :)
    19. Joneebgood, 4 years ago
      HI All, It's been 3 years and I haven't learned too much more about this wood carving. I hope bringing it to the top will allow someone new to see it and make a comment. Thank you for all your help.
    20. allirish, 4 years ago
      Hi, I'm not sure if this helps but I recently watched an old episode of Great British Baking show and they did gingerbread. They did do a small history piece on old gingerbread molds from at least 18th century. The molds were basically like what you have. You could check that as an option. I guess the molds were used to create large elaborate gingerbread pieces to put on the huge feast tables. Its a sign of wealth and the more elaborate the better. Not saying what you have is old or exactly that but it's a place to check.
    21. njnative, 3 years ago
      I am almost certain this is a gingerbread or speculaas mold. There is a wonderful Facebook group called Molded Cookies of the World - Artisan Bakers and Confections. The page deals mostly with the baking of molded cookies, but we love to see the new and old molds that people use and/or collect. I'm sure if you posted your photos there you'd get a response.

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