|
|
|
The Dansville Online
  • Treasures: Butter device could churn up some cash

  • I would like to know the insurance-replacement value of this butter churn. It is marked "Parker and Woods, 49 No. Market 411 Merchants Row, Boston, Mass." It is in good condition.

    • email print
  • Dear Helaine and Joe:
    I would like to know the insurance-replacement value of this butter churn. It is marked "Parker and Woods, 49 No. Market 411 Merchants Row, Boston, Mass." It is in good condition.
    -- A.M.T., Fort Pierce, Fla.
    Dear A.M.T.:
    There is an old work song, sung in the South (and elsewhere), "Come butter come; Come butter come; Granny stands at the gate, with a hot johnnycake ..." Similar chants have been sung all over the world to help maintain the rhythm of churning and to make the time pass faster while this tedious task is performed.
    Butter has been a part of our diets for a long time, and before it was made commercially and available in grocery stores, dairy farmers would milk their cows and collect a portion of the milk in a shallow pan or dish that was then stored in a cool place. These settling dishes –– also called "pancheons" and "milk pans" –– can be found made from brass, earthenware and glass, and they are collectible in their own right.
    In the pan, the cream would rise to the top, and, after about a half of a day or so, it was skimmed off and taken to the churn to be made into butter. Some farmers might wait a little longer, either to collect more milk for cream or to allow the cream to ferment just a bit, which "ripens" the flavor. The device used to take the cream off is called a "skimmer," "fleeter," "scummer" or "skimming spoon (ladle)," and it, too, is collectible.
    Over the years, there have been a variety of churns used for making butter. Perhaps most iconic is the "plunge churn" or "dash churn," which is usually a tall, cylindrical earthenware or wooden vessel with a lid that had a hole in the middle. Through this hole, a wooden sticklike handle was fitted, usually with a dasher on the end that was either crossed boards or a circle.
    Starting in the 18th century, other types of churns were used. The paddle churn used paddles on a rod turned by a wheel. Barrel churns could be turned around and around using a handle (or the handle would turn paddles inside the barrel). The piece in today's question is a variety of barrel churn widely used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    The best picture we have shows the churn without a lid, and we were about to devalue it because of the missing part. But, luckily, we happened to spot the original lid in another view and were a bit relieved. These churns are not uncommon (we see them made into lamps all the time), and the missing lid would have been a serious deduction.
    This particular churn has two things going for it, and both involve the extensive stenciling found in front and back. One side has the name and address of the maker in Boston, and that in itself is important.
    Page 2 of 2 - On the other side, however, is a simple "No. 1" below the crank, and there is a marvelous and large stenciled image of a cow. It has horns, and its side looks something like one of those old charts that show the cuts of meat on the profile of a cow. It is a rather charming representation and one that gives the value of this piece a little boost.
    As we said, barrel butter churns of this type are not rare, but the stenciling gives this example an insurance-replacement value in the $150-to-$225 range (models with no stenciling or less-interesting stenciling can have a value of less than $75).
        
    Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928. Email them at treasures@knology.net.
     

        calendar