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Butter Prints

It isn’t easy to recognize this wood piece with a deeply carved design. Unlike today’s familiar decorating stamping tools, it wasn’t pressed into ink and used to print on fabric or paper; it is a butter print.
Nineteenth-century farm families made their own butter, shaped it in molds, and pressed designs into it with handcarved butter stamps or prints. If the butter was sold at a market, printed designs would appeal to customers and identify the maker. Designs with symmetrical, repeating or divided elements may have helped divide the butter into portions. Some butter prints had handles or were attached to a butter mold.

This oval print with a flower-and-heart design and notched border sold for $5,015 at Conestoga Auction Co. It was made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the 19th century.
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Q: In the 1950s or ’60s, my mother had a Barbie doll that wasn’t like any I have seen since. It had painted brown hair with a painted blue headband, and it came with three wigs: long and dark brown, curly and reddish-brown, and short and blond. I have seen a lot of Barbies at auctions but not one with wigs like this. Is this one rare?

A: Your mother’s doll sounds like the Fashion Queen Barbie doll, introduced in 1963. This doll had a molded head with brown hair and a blue headband and non-bending legs. It was dressed in a one-piece swimsuit with white and gold stripes, a matching turban and white open-toe shoes. It was sold with three wigs: one blond, one brunette, and one titian (the term used for red-brown Barbie hair). It was marked Midge T. M. [copyright] 1962 Barbie [registered] [copyright] 1958 by Mattel, Inc. The 1964 edition had “Patented” added to the mark. Mattel also made Barbie “wig wardrobes” in the 1960s, which were sold with a doll head, not a complete doll. Fashion Queen Barbies without the wigs or box have sold for less than $100 at recent auctions. A doll with all three wigs and the original outfit and box can sell for $100 to $400.

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