Unique, signature butter molds make impression on customers

Terry Kovel
Butter prints like this one pressed a design into freshly made butter as a decoration or for marketing. Today, collectors search for antique butter prints and consider them folk art.

It isn't easy to recognize this wood piece with a deeply carved design. Unlike today's familiar decorating stamping tools, it wasn't pressed into ink and used to print on fabric or paper; it is a butter print. 

Nineteenth-century farm families made their own butter, shaped it in molds, and pressed designs into it with handcarved butter stamps or prints. If the butter was sold at a market, printed designs would appeal to customers and identify the maker. Designs with symmetrical, repeating or divided elements may have helped divide the butter into portions. Some butter prints had handles or were attached to a butter mold. 

This oval print with a flower-and-heart design and notched border sold for $5,015 at Conestoga Auction Co. It was made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the 19th century.

Question: My 90-year-old mother is looking to sell her collection of more than 100 pieces of L.E. Smith's amberina Moon & Stars glass. We've having trouble getting an appraisal or even a place willing to sell for her. 

Answer: L.E. Smith Glass Company was in business in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, from 1907 to 2004. It was famous for its Moon & Star pattern glass but was not the first to make it. The pattern was first made by Adams & Company in 1874 and was originally called "Palace." It was nicknamed "Moon & Star" because of the moon-shaped depression and star design.

Many glassmakers made variations of the pattern. L.E. Smith began making Moon & Star glass in 1962. The company did not own the molds but leased them from Island Mold Company, paying a royalty for each piece. Most pieces are not marked. Moon & Star is a popular pattern.

There is a club for collectors: Society of Moon and Star Pattern Glassware. You can find more information on its website, You may be able to find someone interested in your mother's collection there. 

Q: In the 1950s or '60s, my mother had a Barbie doll that wasn't like any I have seen since. It had painted brown hair with a painted blue headband, and it came with three wigs: long and dark brown, curly and reddish-brown, and short and blond. I have seen a lot of early Barbies at auctions but not one with wigs like this. Is this one rare? 

A: Your mother's doll sounds like the Fashion Queen Barbie doll, introduced in 1963. This doll had a molded head with brown hair and a blue headband and non-bending legs. It was dressed in a one-piece swimsuit with white and gold stripes, a matching turban and white open-toe shoes.

It was sold with three wigs: one blond, one brunette, and one titian (the term used for red-brown Barbie hair). It was marked "Midge T. M. [copyright] 1962 Barbie [registered] [copyright] 1958 by Mattel, Inc." The 1964 edition had "Patented" added to the mark.

Mattel also made Barbie "wig wardrobes" in the 1960s, which were sold with a doll head, not a complete doll. Fashion Queen Barbies without the wigs or box have sold for less than $100 at recent auctions. A doll with all three wigs and the original outfit and box can sell for $100 to $400. 

Q: What's the age and value of a Royal Quiet Deluxe portable typewriter, serial number A-1395264? The typewriter and case are in good condition. 

A: Royal Typewriter Company was founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1904. The first Royal typewriters were sold in 1906. During World War II, the company shifted production to make parts for airplane engines, propellers, machine guns, rifles and bullets.

Royal merged with McBee in 1954 and became Royal McBee. In 1965, it was bought by Litton and became Royal Typewriter again. After several more changes, it became Royal Consumer Information Products Inc. in 2004.

The company's products now include calculators, cash registers, shredders and other office equipment, as well as electronic and manual typewriters. Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriters were made from 1939 to 1959.

The style was redesigned in the 1940s and again in 1950. It was made in several colors beginning in 1955. Your typewriter was made in 1947. Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriters sell for about $50 to a few hundred dollars, depending on condition, style and color. 

TIP: Put a silver spoon in a glass before pouring in hot water. It will absorb heat and keep the glass from cracking.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at


Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions. 

Porcelain wall mask, woman, head turned, short curly blond hair, blue hat, yellow flower, white collar, yellow butterfly on shoulder, marked, Royal Dux, Czechoslovakia, 8 ¼ inches, $40. 

Pottery jar, Nambe Pueblo, blackware, round, turned-in rim, wide geometric band, signed, Marie Herrera, 2 ½ x 4 ¼ inches, $115. 

Ice cream freezer, lid, glass, embossed, "Whip/Egg Beater/Butter Churn," metal churn, Dazey, 11 inches, $185. 

Lamp, electric, hanging, brass, globular, openwork, rows of graduated glass cabochons, multicolor, three chains, Moroccan style, mid-20th century, 16 x 16 inches, $440. 

Coin-operated game, Basket Ball, 5 Balls 1 Cent, glass front, reverse-painted game scene, wood case, Victory, 22 x 18 inches, $530. 

Jewelry, pin, starburst, red oval cabochon center, ring of faux turquoise dome cabochons, gold over silver rays, red stone trim, Eisenberg Originals, 2 ⅝ x 2 ⅜ inches, $810. 

Bank, figural, building, The Traders Bank Of Canada, Yonge St., Colborne St., hinged facade, registered by E. Jarvis, 1891, 10 inches long, $900. 

Clock, banjo, Federal, mahogany, spindle finial, sidearms, painted leafy scrolls and flowers, classical scene on door, bracket base, signed dial, Wm. Cummens, Massachusetts, 19th century, 42 inches, $1,200. 

Toy, carousel, four pairs of horses and riders, red and white striped canopy, United States flag finial, green plink plank base, plays music, windup, Gunthermann, 14 inches, $2,040. 

Textile, United States flag, 35 stars, coarse linen, hand sewn, double-applique stars, two brass grommets, c. 1863, 52 x 91 inches, $2,600.