I love it when I can do entries in this series about everyday objects that have become historical by virtue of simply having survived. You wouldn’t expect to see cookie molds among a cache of priceless treasures from the American Revolution, but that’s exactly the case with these. They belonged to a baker named Christopher Ludwick, a German-born immigrant who went to the American colonies to seek his fortune and opened a bakery in Philadelphia in 1754. Ludwick eventually became famous as the chief baker for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He was a frequent guest at the dinner table of George Washington, a fiery advocate of revolution and the liaison between American patriots and the German-speaking communities of Pennsylvania.
These molds, simply blocks of carved wood, obviously made very ornate cookies. One appears to be an angel design, the other some sort of floral decorative pattern. We have no idea what kind of cookies he made in them, but just looking at them I have the impression of some of the molded Pepperidge Farm cookies (“”Chessmen,” I know, was one type) that I used to love as a kid. They might have been Christmas or holiday-themed cookies. Imagine the delight of some Philadelphia child who lived 250 years ago as someone put a warm cookie, fresh from one of these molds, in his or her hands on a cold day. Most of us, regardless of age, think freshly-baked cookies are a treat; they must have been much more so in the grim streets of a teeming Colonial city just before or during the tumultuous American Revolution era.
Ludwick’s cookie molds are part of a collection of Revolutionary War artifacts that will soon be featured at the Museum of the American Revolution, scheduled to open in 2015. Among the other artifacts are George Washington’s tent, the law books of Patrick Henry and numerous antique firearms and military pieces from the period. This collection has been awaiting a home for a very long time, and the new museum will provide one.
The photo of Christopher Ludwick’s cookie molds is copyright (c) by the American Revolution Center. I believe my inclusion of it here constitutes fair use.