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Collectors gather to share their interest in cookie cutters

Sunday, April 22, 2001

By Jane Miller

Lynn Maguire has nearly 1,800 cookie cutters, most of them displayed in her Carnegie kitchen. She has the tin replica of a Seagram's 7 bottle, Mr. Peanut, the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Among Lynn Maguire's collection of nearly 1,800 cookie cutters are the outlines of all 50 states. Maguire, founding member of the Gingerburghs collectors' club, says her collection is modest compared to others she's heard about: "I once met a women with 10,000," she recalls. "Who knows how many she has now?" (Gabor Degre, Post-Gazette)

She even has one of the rarest finds -- a 1970s-era plastic Snoopy sitting on a pumpkin, originally sold in Hallmark stores. "It's so rare because it didn't work at all with cookie dough and almost everybody threw them out," she said.

Compared to other cookie-cutter collections, hers is modest.

"Mine is nothing. I once met a woman who had 10,000, and she wasn't close to a hundred years old. She was only in her 60s. Who knows how many she has now?"

Maguire is a founding member of the Gingerburghs, a local cookie-cutter club that has four adult members and four teen-age members. They meet monthly in Maguire's home.

She also is editor of Cookie Crumbs, the national Cookie Cutter Collector's Club newsletter. Membership is more than 500. Gingerburgher Darlene Farrell of Shaler is the national organization's vice president.

Come May 5, Maguire and her husband, Michael (he supports her collection because of the edible by-product), will travel to Bucyrus, Ohio, for a regional meeting of the Ohio Valley and Beyond Cookie Cutter Collectors.

Several hundred collectors from all over the country will swap cutters and recipes and take home a limited edition commemorative cutter made by the hosts, The Little Fox Factory, which will demonstrate how they it makes tin cutters.

This meeting commemorates the collectors' first national convention, which was also held in Bucyrus 25 years ago. The club formed after the late Phyllis Wetherill of Washington, D.C., wrote a letter asking if there were any other avid collectors out there. It appeared in the April 1972 edition of Women's Circle, as the magazine was referred to in the club history. Four women responded.

But cookie-cutter collections have probably been around as long as the cutters themselves, say Ed and Mary Fox, owners of The Little Fox Factory. They manufacture the cutters -- 350 are in their current catalog -- in the basement of their home.

Resources for cookie cutters

If you're interested in cookie cutters, here's some help:

For information about the Ohio Valley and Beyond Cookie Cutter Club spring meeting, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Ruth Capper, 1167 Teal Road, Dellroy, OH 44620. Registration for the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. event is $12, which includes lunch. At 3 p.m., there's a tour of nearby Cooper's Mill jam and jellies factory.

For more information about the Gingerburghs, send an e-mail to blocmagu@bellatlantic.net

A catalog of wares from The Little Fox Factory (931 Marion Road, Bucyrus, OH 44820) is available online at www.thelittlefoxfactory.com.


Ed Fox says the history of tin cutters goes back to itinerant tinsmiths. They would fashion tin, left over from larger projects such as roofs, to give out as token gifts to the families they did business for.

The Little Fox Factory got its start 30 years ago. To the Foxes, parents of twin daughters, the cutters had seemed like a good idea for a fund-raising project for their Mothers of Twins club. That project grew into the family-owned business.

One of the company's first cutters was of a sausage, because Bucyrus is nicknamed the "Bratwurst Capital." Since then, the business has been featured in Taste of Home magazine and Christmas editions of Better Homes and Gardens as one of only several manufacturers who craft the tin by hand.

The Foxes sell their homemade cutters from their home or by mail. Their specialty cutters include the St. Louis Arch and numerous breeds of dogs. Since 1994, they have been the exclusive manufacturer of Punxsutawney Phil.

Caring for cutters is simple, the Foxes say. After use, just wipe off with a clean, dry towel. The shortening from the dough helps condition the cutters. If they're dirty (from dust or play dough), use hot, sudsy water, rinse well and dry thoroughly.

The toughest part for most cutter collectors is finding a good sugar cookie recipe that bakes evenly and doesn't stick when rolling it out. The Little Fox Factory gives out a favorite recipe with every cutter order.

"People came to us in the very beginning and said they loved the cutters but couldn't find a good cookie dough recipe."

Maguire also has a favorite recipe, given to her by her friend Reda Kirschman of Whitehall, that follows the "dump" method. "It really does work, and you usually don't have to refrigerate the dough," she says.

As for collecting, go for unusual cutters, whether they work well with dough or not. Look for limited-edition cutters that won't be made 10 years from now, such as the Sun-Maid raisin cutters Maguire's mother gave to her for Christmas.

Among ultimate finds are antique cutters or the Hallmark's Peanuts Gang plastic cutters, which may have a market value of hundreds of dollars. "The challenge is to find them at flea markets for 25 cents," says Maguire.

If you should happen to get hooked on cutters, the National Cookie Cutter Club plans a national convention in Pittsburgh for the summer of 2004.

"I've met the nicest people in this organization," Maguire says. "It's fun if you love to make cut-out cookies and do strange things. It's also a lot of fun to hear people say, 'Oh, where did you get that?'"

Jane Miller is an Avalon free-lance writer, who has a bunch of cutters of her own.

Related Recipe:

Favorite Butter Cut-Out Cookies

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