CARVED GINGERBREAD COOKIE MOLD
This has been hanging on my wall for many years. It’s not a family heirloom just an interesting antique that I picked up a long time ago. It is obviously very old and was carved by someone who was extremely efficient in wood carving. It is really a beautiful piece of art.
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.
There do not seem to be any identifying marks on the back but if you look closely you can see some initials stamped above the image on the front. They are centered above the person’s head. What looks like it could be another image stamped just above the center letter is really a hole that has been filled with something. There is another in the same location on the bottom indicating that this was firmly screwed to a wall at some time during its life. You can see these better in the back view.
The letters are definitely stamped and not just scratched into the wood and seem to be capital “IDP” but could be something else. What could these mean? Do other antique molds sometimes have identifying marks or initials on them, I wonder?
I found a reference on another website that said “The only really good book on gingerbread molds is in German by HANS JUERGEN HANSEN 'KUNSTGESCHICHTE DES BACKWERKS' Gerhard Stalling Verlag oldenburg/Hamburg, 1968.” Has anyone seen this book to know if there are photos of anything in it like this carving or references to any makers marks? The nearest copy to me is in a university library several hours away.
If anyone can shed any light on this object please send me a note. Any thoughts or theories will be appreciated.
THIS IS THE FINE PRINT