Cookies can be made any time of the year, but during holiday breaks, the process of mixing, rolling, baking and decorating is a tradition shared in many families.

Most people have a few cookie cutters, but an avid collector can have a few hundred to thousands.

Yes, thousands.

I, personally have about 150 cutters and have used them for quilting and embroidering patterns, Play-Dough molds, rice crispy treats and even pin cushions.

There is a cutter for everyone, from the big, easy to handle to cutters with a cushioned grip.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Some shops sell vintage cutters and some sell new cutters. Cookie cutters can be found online but be aware that a similar cutter found for $3 may sell for $80 or more.

Cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes fill a wall at The Craft Barn in Galesville, Wis. Contributed
Cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes fill a wall at The Craft Barn in Galesville, Wis. Contributed

The fun and challenge is to go to a flea market, antique shop or garage sale find an unusual antique tin cutter made in Germany from the 1900s for a mere 25 cents that may have a high market value to about $400.

“We sell cookie cutters with close to 500 shapes, individually priced at $1.99, a few are higher and all new on our walls of cutters”, said Sharon Spahr, owner of the Craft Barn Galesville, Galesville, Wis.

Looking for vintage cutters, Sarah Kieffer, owner of Sarah's Uniques and Jim's “Man”tique, St. Charles says, “I have a ton of cookie cutters for Christmas and everyday from the very old to some very small and some really big cutters, ranging in price from $1 to $6.

Erica McClain, public relations manager at The New Generations of Harmony says,“We have loads of cookie cutters in the shop right now. Plastic and metal, copper and aluminum, some with red knobs and some with green knobs within a price range of $3 to $6.”

The most sought after are the antique tinsmith-made cookie cutters from years ago. The earlier cookie cutters had black handles. Note: Do look for reproduction of these.

A 1920s-era reclining goat cookie cutter is valued at $200. Contributed
A 1920s-era reclining goat cookie cutter is valued at $200. Contributed

The next cutters made in the 1930s had apple green or red handles and are shaped like bullets. The handle, the shape and the metal that the cookie cutters were made with reveals their age and where they were made.

Companies that made flour, lard and shortening -- even stove-oven manufacturers -- sometimes included a cookie cutter as a token of appreciation for purchases. Cookie cutters were even bought with S&H or Gold Bond stamps.

Today, look for limited edition cutters that won’t be made 10 years from now.

A cookie cutter that is in its original box and of vintage legitimate origin along with documented history might be of great interest.

Caring for cutters is simple. After each 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.

So pull out those well-worn and time-tested cookie recipes, tie on an apron, and reach for the flour canister and cookie cutters. Let's get baking.

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at life@postbulletin.com.