Copper Jello molds, or jelly molds, as they are sometimes called, are highly collectible. It's fascinating to learn about their history and models that are especially valuable. If you're considering collecting Jello molds or just have one you like, get a little background information about these lovely vintage kitchen items.
History of Copper Jello Molds
Jello molds became popular during the Victorian era, according to Collectors Weekly. At that time, cooks experimented with all manner of strange-sounding Victorian recipes, including the meat-based aspic that used egg shells in the dish. Copper molds, as opposed to the more affordable tin alternatives, were a sign of wealth and style. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th century, copper molds became more common. In fact, copper molds really gained popularity in the 1920s, and you may remember your grandmother owning and using one from the 1950s or 1960s.
How Much Are Copper Molds Worth?
The value of copper jello molds depends on a number of factors, but they can fetch from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars at auction. As with assigning value to any antique, understanding how much your mold is worth requires that you take a good look at it.
Condition Is a Factor
According to 4&20, a retailer of antique copper, these molds are especially prone to denting and cracking. That's because copper is a soft metal, and the three-dimensional nature of the mold makes it vulnerable. Denting will reduce the value, but it's also common. Cooks of the era would make multiple layers of Jello desserts, and they would tap the molds on the work surface to ensure each jellied layer was flat enough to stack. This tapping process could easily dent the mold. Molds without dents are more valuable, but condition issues are also expected in these delicate items.
Rarity and Design Matter
A standard fluted mold is collectible, but a mold featuring an animal or figure is worth more. A Victorian-era copper Jello mold with a three-dimensional lion recently fetched over $100 on eBay, which standard shapes sell for under $10. Similarly, more modern options from the 20th century generally fetch less at auction because they are more common that 19th century molds in good condition.
Markings Can Indicate Manufacturer
With any antique item, it's important to check for markings. These can indicate a specific manufacturer, such as Benham & Froud. Molds from these manufacturers are more valuable. For instance, a set of Benham & Froud copper molds sold at auction for over $800. The Benham & Froud mark features and orb and a cross with other markings to indicate model and date.
Uses for Antique Copper Jelly Molds
Although they are lovely, copper Jello molds are also useful in today's home. If you plan to use the mold for cooking, 4&20 recommends that you have the interior re-tinned. You can have that done at specialty shops, such as Rocky Mountain Tinning. When you're ready to put your mold to use, consider these ideas:
- Turn ring-shaped molds upside down and place a pillar candle in the middle. This creates a unique vintage-style centerpiece.
- Store buttons, ribbons, thread, and other craft items in smaller molds. They make a lovely display in your craft room.
- Hang the molds on the wall in a grouping, letting their beauty add a little warmth and vintage charm to your kitchen or dining room.
- Bake a cake or cake topper in your mold. According to the food blog SallyB's Kitchen, the key is to keep your oven temperature low and make sure the mold is supported.
- Place a plastic dish or container inside the Jello mold and use it as a planter in your kitchen.
- Don't forget, you can actually use these to make Jello too!