With Thanksgiving almost upon us, and a big pie-making day looming in the very near future, it seems an appropriate time to write about my favorite rolling pin. This rolling pin is old and is made of stoneware, with a blue wildflower design. This particular rolling pin was made around 1880 by the Fulper Brothers Pottery Company in Flemington, New Jersey. Another company, called the Brush Pottery Company, also made stoneware rolling pins with the same wildflower pattern, but these seem to have been made a few years later and there is an obvious difference in quality of the wildflower design, with the designs on the Brush rolling pins being a darker blue with thicker lines that are often smeared.
Some of the Fulper rolling pins were described as having carved tiger maple handles, but I wonder if there was a problem with these handles, because the handles seem to be missing from many of these older rolling pins. It is also possible that some of the rolling pins were sold without handles.
My rolling pin does have handles, and the handles are very old… but they are not tiger maple and are obviously hand-carved. Although these handles are crude, they are one of the things I like most about this rolling pin, because outfitting the stoneware tube with handles that would allow it to rotate must have taken a lot of ingenuity. There are two possibilities. If the handle is made of one solid piece of wood… and I think this is a possibility because one side of the handle is smaller than the other side, and the smaller side is only just slightly larger than the center hole… the smaller side might have been positioned just so and forced through the center hole. If the handle was made in two pieces, the two pieces are somehow joined in the center so tightly they cannot now be pulled apart. Either way, the carver came up with a very clever idea.
I have been able to find only a few references to this type of rolling pin, but there is some suggestion that they might have been given as Christmas gifts by merchants to their valued customers… which would also mean they were relatively inexpensive when they were new. Today these rolling pins are suprisingly valuable, with prices ranging from around $250 for the darker, cruder designs to $500 or more for the lighter designs with finer detail and handles. A few years ago I was surprised to find a rolling pin identical to mine (but without handles) priced at $475 in an area antique shop.
This rolling pin was given to me by my father soon after we built our present home. I wish I had asked him then to tell me what he knew about it. Although the rolling pin could have come from his family, it is also possible that he bought it at an auction. It seems incredible now, but when my parents were first married, they used to buy old trunks “with contents” at auctions for as little as fifty cents up to a couple of dollars. I can’t imagine even getting an antique trunk for that low a price, but they also often ended up finding amazing treasures inside. This rolling pin could have been one such find.