Butter Molds

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.