Butter Molds, Stamps & Presses
After the butter was worked and salted if needed it usually was molded into blocks or rounds to be measured, stored and sold. The other option was to just pack it into tubs or crocks (picture) but printed butter usually received a higher price in many markets. And sometimes consumers bought butter in tubs and then molded it themselves to make it more presentable on the table. Common butter mold sizes were 1/2, 1 and 2 pounds. These blocks were often impressed with various designs that could be very intricate depending on the skill of the carver. Some imprints were solely for decoration while others identified the butter maker. There were many designs of butter molds, stamps and presses.
Since most butter was sold, having an accurate weight was important. If a customer paid for one pound of butter they wanted to get one pound. Many butter molds had provisions to adjust the size of the mold so that the amount of butter could be increased or decreased to get a print weighing the correct weight. This did not stop dishonest merchants and dairies from selling under weight rolls of butter. The problem became so bad that in 1893 the California state legislature passed a law stating: "Any person or persons, firm or corporation, who offers for sale roll butter not of full weight to each roll, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor." Note the use of the words "roll butter", indicating how common this form of butter was in California.
One of the simplest ways to mold butter was to just use the butter spades or hands that were used to work the buttermilk out of the butter. One just could form the butter into the desired shape after working the butter milk out. There was no mold, the butter was just free formed into a shape. Then a butter stamp, such as pictured above, could be used to imprint a design on to the butter. The stamp was only to imprint a design on the butter, it did not act as a mold. It is likely that many carved plungers from butter molds were turned into stamps after the mold case broke.
Most butter stamps were made of hardwood such as maple however one can find stamps made of glass (picture), metal and stoneware.
Click here to go to the page with butter spades and butter hands.
The butter molds pictured above were very popular and many are found today. These had fancy designs carved into the press so that the impression was left on top of the butter. Common designs were a sheath of wheat (shown on the disassembled mold above), pineapple, thistle, cow, rooster and geometric designs. Butter would have been filled into the mold and then the plunger pressed to form a tight shape of butter. The handle screwed into the print so it could be removed from the case.
These came in a one pound size like the two molds on the left, a half pound size like the third mold and pat sizes like the last mold. Sears, Roebuck & Company also listed a two pound size in their 1987 catalog as well as square molds. The price of these varied depending on the complexity of the carving but would have ranged from 10 to 30 cents for a two pound mold, 13 to 26 cents for a one pound mold, 12 to 22 cents for a half pound mold and 8 to 10 cents for a pat size mold. They could be special ordered with one's initials. Montgomery Ward was still selling the pat size for 8 cents and the one pound size for 35 cents in their 1935-36 catalog.
These are sometimes found with an April 17, 1866 patent date. This patent was issued to John Bullard of Chagrin Falls, Ohio and was for the manufacturing of this style of butter mold on a lathe. Prior to this many of these butter molds were carved by hand and the size and thus weight of the butter was not consistent. John Bullard had also been granted a previous patent on June 14, 1864 for a cutting tool that could be used in a lathe to turn this style of butter mold.
The majority of these molds will be round however square molds were also made (picture). Sears, Roebuck & Company listed square molds in their 1897 catalog in half pound and one pound sizes. The prices were 23 and 26 cents.
Most butter molds of this style were made of hardwood, particularly maple. However glass and metal butter molds can be found. One advantage of not using wood was glass and metal were easier to clean, imparted no off flavors to the butter and did not have to be soaked in water prior to molding the butter. Soaking was necessary with a wood mold so that the butter could be removed from the mold. One glass mold was embossed BOMER and PAT. APLD. FOR (picture). However we have never come across a patent for this butter mold. It can be found with a star, a cow or various designs imprinted on the plunger. It dates to the early 1900's. The Cambridge Glass Company of Cambridge, Ohio also listed glass butter molds in their 1903 catalog. This catalog showed glass butter molds with a cow or a Fleur de Lis imprinted on the plunger.
This was one of the earliest patented butter molds and it originated in California. Oliver Allen of of San Francisco, California was granted a patent on February 14, 1865 for a round butter mold attached to brass tongs. Oliver Allen was a dairyman in Marin county, north of San Francisco, and his butter mold was very popular in that market, which supplied butter to San Francisco. The mold when closed was just under 3 inches in diameter and 7 inches long, making a 2 pound roll of butter. With the tongs the whole mold was 19 inches long and pretty heavy. The patent stated that the edges of the mold were sharp to easily pass through the butter and any excess at the ends of the mold was removed by a wooden knife. This style of butter mold was known as a California mold although it was sold in all parts of the country. However in California butter molded in rolls was the most common form of butter sold. This mold consisted of a hinged case with brass hardware. Brass was used since it would not rust and possibly stain the butter. They came in round, square and brick shaped versions. Sears, Roebuck & Company listed a two pound round mold in their 1897 catalog for 25 cents. By 1902 they sold one and two pound round molds for 17 and 18 cents as well as one and two pound square molds for the same prices. Shown above, left to right, is a two pound round mold, a one pound brick mold, a two pound square mold and a one pound square mold shown open. Sometimes the rectangular brick shaped mold was referred to as the Pacific Coast Mold.
These were very utilitarian butter molds with no carvings that would imprint into the butter however we have heard of people using a separate butter stamp to imprint the end of the roll or brick. An early method of molding butter was to roll it into a cylinder using two boards or paddles. These round California molds may have been a simplification of that process.
The California name interested us but we have not been able to locate a patent for this style of butter mold. Most likely the round California butter mold pictured above was just a simplification of the butter mold that Oliver Allen patented and shown in the previous picture.
There were patents for two improvements that did originate in California however. Herbert Maltby of Clarksville, California was issued two patents, one on August 7, 1894 and another on June 11, 1895, for an adjustable version of these butter molds. Being able to adjust the size of the mold was always an important consideration. Each batch of butter had a different density and even butter in the same batch was affected by the temperature. Thus sometimes a one pound mold could hold more than a pound and other times less. If the consumer was shorted that meant an unhappy customer and if the mold was over the dairyman was loosing money.
Here is another butter mold that makes a long roll of butter similar to the round California mold. However this roll is in a hexagonal shape. The mold is six pieces of wood or staves held together by two metal bands forming a hexagonal shaped tube. There is also a hexagonal shaped print that is placed in the bottom of the mold. The tube is then filled and packed with butter. When the tube is full the print base can be pushed with a stick and the roll of butter is pressed out of the mold and the butter is imprinted on the end of the roll by the print.
These were some of the earliest butter molds. They were advertised in 1850 in one and two pound sizes for 75 cents and $1.50 by David Prouty & Company of Boston, Massachusetts. They came with a square pestle to pack the butter in and push the roll out of the mold. In 1853 this same company advertised this mold as The Six Square Butter Mould. They attributed the mold to a D. Perry and mentioned some improvements. The mold was described as being larger at the top than the bottom to make it easier to remove the butter. Also on the bottom of the mold, at the end of three of the six staves, there was a screw turned into the wood that acted as legs for the mold. By turning these screws in or out one could adjust how far into the mold the print block set. This effectively lengthened or shortened the mold to adjust its capacity. Also they mention that on the outside of the mold, between the two metal bands, a section of the wood had been turned down to make it easier to hold in ones hand.
On March 19, 1867 Dan and Edwin Perry of Pawtucket, Rhode Island received a patent for this butter mold. The patent was not for the butter mold itself but for a new and improved method of applying hoops to barrels, tubs, pails and butter moulds. The patent drawing however was not a barrel, tub or pail but specifically this butter mold.
In addition to one and two pound sizes we have also seen these molds in half pound sizes. These butter molds often will have numbers stamped on to the back of the print and the bottom edge of the mold. These allowed the butter maker to match the correct print to the mold. The fit was often tight and the prints and molds did not interchange well.
The butter mold pictured above was advertised as Kinerson's Combination Butter Print. These were advertised around 1885 and manufactured by James Kinerson of Peacham, Vermont. In that advertisement Kinerson claims they have been used for 9 years, dating these prints to about 1874. He listed a May 20, 1879 patent date on his advertisements but in reality that patent was for different butter print although it did have a few features in common with this print. In this print, the box that formed the mold had tapered sides so that as the butter was ejected the print became loose in the mold. Also there were thin strips of wood set into the face of the print that would form lines into the butter that would mark where the print could be cut into smaller blocks. The design was carved into the face of the print and would be raised on the surface of the butter. These parting lines would be just the opposite and be cut into the surface of the butter.
Kinerson advertised up to 15 different sizes of his butter prints as well as being willing to manufacture custom sizes. The mold shown here is a No. 6 that held two pounds and formed 8 cakes of butter weighing a quarter of a pound. Or if the user desired the butter could be divided into two one pound prints or four half pound prints. The mold was very adaptable. The cost for this size mold was $4.50. Kinerson prints ranged in size from one pound up to 12 pounds of butter. The number of cakes ranged from three to 30. The prints were sold with a paddle and a cutter to separate the individual cakes of butter.
In the early 1900's J. H. Varnum advertised these Kinerson Combination Butter Prints for sale and claimed they had been sold for a quarter of a century. Varnum was also from Peacham, Vermont. He advertised that his customers ranged from Quebec to Florida and Maine to California. He added prints with one ounce and half ounce pats for restaurant, hotel and home use. He offered molds with 8, 16, 18, 24, 32 and 64 pats in half or one ounce sizes. The price of half ounce and one ounce prints was the same as the only difference was the depth of the mold. One change that Varnum made was the strips of wood that made the dividing lines were now carved from the print block and not separate strips of wood set into the print face. His prices included engraving of initials or simple fruit or flowers. More elaborate designs were available for an extra charge.
This butter mold was patented by Henry Carver of Ludlow, Massachusetts on October 19, 1886. The mold itself is a wooden box with a wooden print but the plunger mechanism is nickel plated brass. This combination was used since it would not rust and stain the butter. In the picture one can see the adjustment screws to adjust the size of the mold. The plunger also had tabs on the shaft so that it could be locked in the open position while the butter was put into the mold and then the plunger could be rotated so it could be depressed to mold and print the butter. The patent papers showed a spring on the plunger to help push it down on the butter but we have never seen a mold that had this spring. The brass mechanism was designed so one could hold the top of the mold with one's fingers and depress the plunger with the thumbs.
This mold was advertised as Carver's Combined Mould and Stamp. They were available with a plain print or a series of lines forming a checked pattern that would be imprinted into the butter (picture). This checked pattern was designed to make it easy to cut the print in half, turning a one pound print into two half pound prints. Custom engraving was available at an extra cost. They were sold in half pound, one pound and two pound sizes. The mold pictured here is a one pound size. In the late 1800's the prices were 4 dollars for the half and one pound size and 5 dollars for the two pound size. The one pound could be purchased in three different measurements. The one pictured here was the standard shape but it could also be had in a longer and shorter print that also weighed one pound. These were fairly expensive butter molds for their time.
In 1912 they were sold by the Creamery Package Manufacturing Company and the price dropped to 2 dollars for the half and one pound sizes and $2.25 for the two pound size. The half pound print was now offered in two measurements. Creamery Package Manufacturing Company was a large dairy supply dealer and they must have been able to negotiate a very good price. They still sold these butter molds in their 1935 catalog and the one pound size was offered in four measurements and the half and two pound molds were offered in two measurements each. They were also listed in the 1939 catalog of the Cherry-Burrell Company but were called the Eclipse Butter Mold.
Henry Carver was granted another patent on April 9, 1889 for a much simpler butter mold. He called this mold the Daisy Mould and Stamp. Often this patent date is stamped in the top of the press. This butter mold was made almost entirely of wood, unlike the previous mold. The T shaped block that formed the press handle was attached to the stamp by a screw that engaged in a slot in the back of the stamp. This allowed the handle to be rotated when the stamp was in the filling position to hold it in place as shown in the picture. When the butter was ready to be ejected the handle was rotated in line with the stamp and the whole assembly could be depressed in the mold case and the print of butter removed. The handle could also be easily separated from the stamp and removed for cleaning.
Carver advertised this mold in half pound and one pound sizes at a cost of $2.00. This mold was an economy version compared to much heavier combined mold pictured previously. He advertised that this mold was self gauging and the patent papers also mention adjustment screws to vary the size of the mold but we have not seen one of these molds with these features.
Shown above is a butter mold patented by Frank Ayer on June 12, 1888. This mold unfolded to make removing the brick of butter easier. The long sides are hinged to the base with brass hinges. The smaller end pieces are pinned to the base and sit in grooves on the long sides. They can be removed. The whole mold is held together by a brass wire that hinges over all four sides and holds the mold together. The base of the mold is carved with an impression that is transferred to the butter. Click here for a picture of the mold opened up. The mold pictured here is a one pound mold but the design has two smaller impressions so the print could be cut in half to make two half pound prints.
The Creamery Package Manufacturing Company sold the Ayer's butter mould in their 1900-1901 catalog. It was listed in one pound and half pound sizes. The prices were $1.25 and $1.15 respectively. The described it as "a first class mould for small dairies." By the 1902-1903 catalog the Ayer's butter mould was no longer offered for sale.
These molds were known as Eureka Butter Printers. One can see the similarities between the two molds yet there are also differences. They were both covered under the same patent which was issued on March 18, 1890 to Perley Kimball of Bellows Falls, Vermont. He assigned his patent to the Vermont Farm Machine Company which sold these butter molds. These molds were similar to the Carver Combined Mold and Stamp in that the box and print were wood but the plunger mechanism was metal. They also used a nickel plating on the metal. On these molds the outside of the wood box had a very definite taper. This must have been designed to make it easier to plunge the mold into the lump of butter to be molded. The inside of the wood mold that formed the butter print itself had straight sides.
Vermont Farm Machine Company advertised these prints as self-weighing or self-gauging. There was a collar on the plunger shaft that could be adjusted with a set screw. This determined how far the plunger could be lifted. Moving the collar to the end of the shaft near the print allowed the mold to hold the maximum amount of butter. Moving the collar up the shaft and away from the print decreased the size of the mold. The one pound mold could be easily set to make one or half pound prints. There was also a slide that would grab the collar and hold the plunger in the open position while the mold was being filled. On the butter mold to the left it is on top of the metal frame and on the mold to the right it is at the top of the wood case.
The printer on the left was called the Eureka No 1 printer. One improvement of this mold over the Carver mold and the Eureka No. 2 mold was that the metal plunger mechanism fully framed the wooden mold box which greatly improved the strength of the mold. Vermont Farm Machine Company listed these in their 1889 catalog for $4.50 with a plain print. They only offered it in a one pound size that could be adjusted down to a half pound. They claimed that with practice a person could mold 10-15 prints each minute with this butter printer. In a 1913 catalog the price had dropped to 4 dollars but they offered carving on the printer block for an additional charge. These were expensive and heavy butter molds.
The butter printer on the right was called the Eureka No. 2 printer. The metal frame connected to each end of the wood box rather than totally framing the top of the box. It also had the two finger holds that the user could grab on to when pressing the butter. The Vermont Farm Machinery Company offered these in a one pound size that would adjust to a half pound, a two pound size that would adjust to one pound and a three pound size that would adjust to two pounds. The prices in 1889 were $3.50, $4.00 and $4.50 respectively with plain print blocks. We suspect this mold was offered in the larger sizes since it was the lighter of the two molds
Both types of molds at some point could be had with carved print blocks. In 1913 a single initial or a sheaf of wheat in duplicate added 75 cents, a cow in duplicate added $2.00 while the complete farm name could add $2.50. Generally the design was carved into the print block. However it could also be carved so that the design was raised above the print block and thus would be depressed into the butter. This was preferred by some dairymen especially if the butter was to be handled a lot. When the design was raised on the butter print it was more apt to be smudged than if the design was recessed into the butter print. A raised design doubled the price of the carving. The molds pictured above have the initials AC carved onto the print block on one and on the other the initials SS are raised above the print block (picture).
The Creamery Package Manufacturing Company offered very similar butter molds in their 1912 catalog that they called The Up-to-Date Butter Printer. The No. 1 had a metal frame all the way around the mold just like the one pictured above on the left however the adjustment for the size of the mold was a little different. It was offered in a one pound size for 4 dollars. The No. 2 was very similar to the butter mold pictured on the right above. It was offered in a one pound size for 3 dollars and a 2 pound size for 4 dollars. The Up-to-Date Butter Printers were based on a patent granted to Theodore Valerius on October 6, 1903. He assigned the patent to the Creamery Package Manufacturing Company.
This is a three piece butter mold made of white birch. Two of the sides are joined permanently to form an L shape. The sides are grooved to accept the stamp portion of the mold. The stamp is a single piece of wood with two cleats screwed to the back to keep it from warping. The two L shaped sides are held together by a brass pin and hook assembly. After the mold is filled with butter and the print is formed the two hooks could be released and then the sides and stamp could be removed from the print of butter. The big advantage of this mold was the ease of removing the butter print without damaging it.
These butter molds were sold in the 1894-95 Montgomery Wards Catalog and called a Blanchard butter mold. Wards sold them in three sizes. There was a half pound size with two pats, a one pound size with 4 pats like the one here and a two pound size with eight pats. The prices were 85 cents for the half pound, one dollar for the one pound mold and $1.40 for the two pound size. This butter mold was originally made by Porter Blanchard's Sons Company of Concord and later Nashua, New Hampshire. We have seen them marked with the company name and the town of Concord, N.H. or Nashua, N.H. The ones marked Concord would date before 1890 since the company left Concord at that time. The ones marked Nashua would date between 1890 and 1900. We have also seen some of these butter molds stamped PATENT APL'D FOR but we do not believe a patent was ever granted.
Sears, Roebuck and Company also sold these butter molds in their 1897 catalog although they did not refer to the Blanchard name. The cost was 75 cents for the half pound size, 90 cents for the one pound mold and $1.20 for the two pound size. In their 1902 catalog they called these butter molds the New England pattern and the price had dropped to 62 cents, 77 cents and one dollar for the three sizes.
These butter molds were still sold in the 1940's and even then they were sometimes referred to as Blanchard butter molds. The Hall Brothers Company of West Acton, Massachusetts acquired the rights to the Blanchard butter churns and butter mold after the company closed and continued to make this style of butter mold. The most common carvings are the flowers shown here although the number of petals varied. We have also seen them with thistles, acorns, sheaves of wheat and initials.
Click here to go to the page with Blanchard butter churns and here to go to the page with Blanchard butter workers.
Pictured above is a Reid's butter mold. This mold was originally manufactured by A. H. Reid who was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We have never found a patent for this butter mold although it is unique. The mold consisted of three pieces of very heavy wood. The print part of the mold was very thick and had a distinctive handle. They most commonly are engraved with double sheaths of wheat. The mold part was open on the top and the bottom. The sides needed to be thick to give it strength since there was no top to hold it square like other butter molds. The third piece was a piece of wood to press the butter against rather than just using a flat work surface. In the above picture the mold is ready to press the butter. One would push on the print from above with the fat part of your thumbs and grab the bottom piece with the tips of your fingers. In this way pressure was exerted in more of a squeezing motion rather than just pressing. The way the handle on the bottom piece was formed allowed one to rock the mold from side to side and exert even more pressure. To remove the printed butter one just flipped the whole assembly upside down with the handle of the print on the table. By pushing down on the mold frame the printed butter was removed. Click here for a drawing from the 1895 Montgomery Ward catalog to see how this mold was used.
Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Wards both sold these butter molds. In the 1894-95 Wards catalog and the 1897 Sears Catalog they were called the Reid's butter mold and listed in three sizes, half pound, pound and two pound. The prices where the same in both catalogs, $1.25, $1.35 and $2.10. By the fall of 1900 catalog, Sears has changed the name to the Philadelphia Pattern butter mold but the price remained the same. However in the very next catalog, spring of 1901, the prices drop to 89 cents, 98 cents and $1.45. By the fall of 1903 they were only offered in the one pound size.
Click here to go to the page with butter workers manufactured by A. H. Reid.
Pictured above is a square butter mold that was patented by William Freeman of Kalkaska, Michigan on February 8, 1898. This mold had a square piece of wood that was between the plunger and the handle. This piece of would could rotate on the handle. This mold was made to be filled with the wooden handle sitting on a table and the mold box facing up. Notice how big the top of the handle is to make it more stable. When the mold was being filled with butter, the piece of wood would be rotated like it is shown in the picture to keep the plunger at the bottom of the mold box. When the butter was ready to be pressed, the piece of wood would be rotated so it was in line with the plunger. Then the plunger could be pressed into the mold box to form the print.
This is a half pound size and we have also seen rectangular one pound molds. The plunger is often carved to imprint the butter. This mold has a flower carved on the plunger. William Freeman owned the Freeman Woodenware Manufacturing Company in Kalkaska, Michigan which was a prolific producer of butter molds.
These are box butter molds. The one on the left is older and uses a lap construction while the two on the right have the corners dovetailed. Sears, Roebuck and Company called the one on the left a Pearce butter mold. They sold it only in a one pound size for 83 cents in the 1900 catalog. By 1901 however the price dropped to 68 cents and in 1903 had fallen to 65 cents. They advertised that it made blocks in a standard size to fit the Lee or Curtis butter shipping boxes that they also sold. Montgomery Ward sold this one pound butter mold for 45 cents in 1922 and advertised that the prints would fit their Parcel Post butter box. Creamery Package Manufacturing Company advertised this butter mold as the Ideal Family butter mold in 1912 with a price of 90 cents. We have also seen this mold advertised in quarter pound, half pound and two pound sizes. The plungers sometimes are plain and sometimes are carved with designs.
This mold had the ability to be adjusted for size. Montgomery Wards advertised that a one pound mold could be adjusted from 3/4 pound to 1 1/4 pound. Generally a one pound print of butter was 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches but that could vary slightly depending on the batch of butter. Notice the two brass screws on the back of the plunger. These hit the top of the mold box and determined how far up the plunger would sit. Turning the screws in allowed the plunger to sit higher up in the mold and more butter could be loaded into the mold. Likewise turning the screws out made the size of the mold and the brick of butter smaller. Sometimes the two brass screws will be located in the top of the case rather than on the plunger but the effect is the same.
The two butter molds on the right are simpler box molds and are very common. There is no adjustment for the size of the mold. The plunger can be decorated like the center mold or smooth with no design. Generally if there is a design it is very simple. The dovetail design of the corners was a more modern and much stronger design. The center mold is a half pound size and the mold on the right is a one pound mold. One pound butter molds of this type, with a decoration, were advertised for 54 cents in a 1928 hardware catalog.
This butter mold is very similar to the box molds pictured above but rather than having a stick handle on the back of the print block to push the butter out, this mold has two holes in the top that one used their thumbs to push the print block and butter out of the mold.
A common cast aluminum butter mold is embossed T R HALL BURLINGTON, NC. It can be found in half and one pound sizes with parallel lines embossed on the plunger. The one pound size is marked 1 LB while the half pound size is not marked with a size designation. This butter mold was patented by Thomas Hall of Burlington, North Carolina on May 2, 1950. The idea behind this patent were the wings on top of the plunger shaft. Hall stated in his patent that the butter print often stuck to the plunger and was distorted as it was removed. By giving the plunger on this mold a twist by grabbing the wings, the butter print could be released from the plunger aiding its removal from the mold. In the patent drawings the pattern on the plunger face was circular. It would seem that a non-circular pattern like the ones this mold is found with would be smeared if the plunger was rotated. The hole in the top of the mold was a slot so that the plunger assembly with the wings would be removed from the mold for cleaning.
This company also produced a metal, rectangular mold with these same wings on the plunger shaft. However in a rectangular mold no rotation would be possible at all. Interestingly the rectangular Hall butter mold is the only one marked with the patent date. On the rectangular mold the face of the plunger was smooth. One feature of the rectangular mold was that it could work as a half pound or one pound mold. The hole in the top of the mold was not symmetrical and the shaft of the plunger had an extension part way down on one side. If the plunger was inserted in the mold so that this extension passed thru the hole at the top of the mold, then the plunger would go to the very top of the mold and the mold would hold one pound of butter. If the plunger was rotated 180 degrees however, this extension would not pass thru the hole at the top of the mold and the plunger would stop half way up in the mold and resize the mold to a half pound. The rectangular mold is embossed T. R. HALL MFG. CO. BURLINGTON N. C. PAT. NO. 2506213. This was the same patent that was granted for the round butter molds made by T. R. Hall Manufacturing Company
Both of these butter molds are more recent than their wooden counterparts. In fact they could be bought new up until the late 1990's. There is also a reproduction Hall butter mold that has a star on the plunger and is missing the finger wings on the plunger shaft.
Pictured above is a larger style butter press known as a Nesbitt's butter press. The butter was placed in the top of the box and pushing the lever down forced a press in to the butter from below. This forced the butter up against the lid of the box and formed it into a brick. A carved block could be placed on top of the press so that a pattern was stamped into the brick of butter (picture).
This press was originally patented by Moses Nesbitt of Colora, Maryland on March 4, 1879. On December 28, 1886, Perley Kimball of Bellows Falls, Vermont patented a self-gauging attachment for this butter press. The self-gauging attachment allowed one to set the travel on the press so that the same size brick of butter was pressed every time without the need to weigh the butter. The handle below the table and the large thumb screw are the self gauging attachment. Kimball assigned his patent to the Vermont Farm Machinery Company of Bellows Falls, Vermont. With this addition the press was known as Nesbitt's self-gauging butter press. They were made from white ash and cherry wood with brass hinges. The press was held together by wedges so it could be taken apart and cleaned. The round hole with the sliding cover near the top of the press allowed any excess butter to be pushed out of the mold.
These butter presses were sold by the Vermont Farm Machinery Company for 4 dollars in the half pound size and $4.50 in the one pound size in their 1889 catalog. The self-gauging attachment added one dollar to the price. Carved blocks to press designs into the brick of butter cost from 75 cents to 2 dollars depending how complicated the design was. Usually the designs were carved in duplicate so that the brick could be cut in half. That way a one pound press could make one pound or half pound bricks.