I looked at the stamps you purchased and was quite taken aback. I had forgotten these early beginnings. They were made by my folks probably in the mid 1960's. The seed cleaning plant that dad owned had just burned down and finally dad didn't have to go to work at a job he disliked greatly.
Mom had a stroke in 1963 or 1964 and couldn't throw on the wheel anymore so these stamps were an easy way for her to decorate clay pieces, now mostly hand built. This was the beginning of our business.
The insurance money gave my folks a bit of time to think about the future. Helping mom with her new handicap, he carved tools out of broomstick wood and stamped the clay stamps you have to make designs. I still have all the
wood tools that dad made. They were made to use in combination with other tools and they were all made with his pocket knife.
Mom and dad would be amazed to know some of their stamps turned up in Germany.
I am continually reminded of the blessing given to me and my family by my parents for a business that has supported us and many others over the last 40 some years.
Great to hear from you and hope all is going well. My best to you,
Above: The stamps Peter purchased on EbayUSA were some of the very first Eleanor made using Carroll's tools.
Above: More examples of Eleanor's earliest cookie stamps carved and/or hand-molded out of terra cotta as well as white clay (pre-1967)
Eleanor sold her first stamps in 1967, and they were approximately
the same size and shape as they are today. Although Rycraft has
produced several shapes of stamps over the years, all but the current
round shape were discontinued by 1991.
Pictured at right: Early stamps were sold glazed and unglazed, and were made of white, brown, gray and red terra cotta clays.
In 1966-1967, stamps were
individually carved by Eleanor. She used several types of clay (white,
dark brown, gray, and red terra cotta). No two stamps were alike.
Pictured at right: Examples of early pear designs. In 1967, no two stamps were carved alike.
Stamps were sold either unglazed or glazed with sky blue, white,
yellow, or dark brown glaze. The round, square and heart shapes were
evidently the only shapes made.
STAGE II – 1968 Carroll
Rycraft invented special tools for carving the stamps, which was now
being done by either Eleanor or Carroll. Design masters were used for
the first time to produce more than one stamp with the same design.
Above and below right: Examples of early geometric designs sold. Because they were carved individually, no two stamps were alike.
Round, heart, and square shapes were the only shapes made. They started
putting holes in the handles for attaching a shortbread recipe booklet,
tied on with a piece of twine.
STAGE III – 1969 - 1970
were a total of nine different shapes of stamps: round, square,
diamond, heart, 'dogwood,' 6-sided flower, hexagon, 5-pointed star, and
12-sided flower. Aqua, red and green glazes were used for the first
Above right: Examples of the ten shapes sold by Rycraft, from left to right: Top Row - 12-sided flower, hexagon, round; Middle Row - diamond,
"dogwood", heart, square; Bottom Row - Easter egg, 6-sided flower,
Right: Examples of the faces of the ten shapes of stamps.
Below left and right: Examples of the heart- shaped stamps in white clay and terra cotta clay.
STAGE IV – 1971
handles had markings on the tip: (1) a contrasting dot of glaze, or (2)
a special "RC" mark imprinted on the tip. They stopped putting holes in
STAGE V – 1972 - 1976
stamp shapes except round and square were discontinued after 1971 with
the exception of an Easter-egg-shaped stamp which was made in 1975 and
1976 only. White clay was no longer used. One of the last designs
carved by Carroll Rycraft was the first annual Collector's Dated
STAGE VI – 1977 - 1991
and square were the only shapes made. Red terra cotta clay was now used
exclusively. In 1981 Robin started carving, and his wife Rachelle carved
STAGE VII – 1992 - Present
was the only shape made. They changed to leadless glazes in 1997. And
in 1998, Joe Patterson, and later Dan White, joined Robin Rycraft in carving designs until 2006 when Robin began doing all the carving again.
In 2009 the square cookie stamp was re-introduced due to popular demand.