|The creators of Rycraft's Heirloom Collection of cookie stamp designs are Robin and Carol Rycraft. After sketches are drawn from their ideas, each image is carved into clay. Below are some of the tools Robin's dad, Carroll Rycraft, designs to press designs into the clay.
Once the image is carved, it then undergoes evaluation, criticism, and re-carving, until it meets with final approval. Then the carving is fired, and it becomes the master image for that design. In production, the master image is used to imprint each individual cookie stamp by hand. Then a handle is cut and applied to the stamp by hand. After a kiln firing, glaze is applied by hand to each stamp which is then kiln-fired a second time to produce a rich color and texture. Finally, a Rycraft label is affixed to the back of each cookie stamp before it is carefully packed for shipping. Click here for a newspaper article with photos of this process.
How to Find Old Stamps
When a Rycraft Cookie Stamp is no longer manufactured by Rycraft and is sold out, the buying and selling of that stamp then takes place on the "secondary" market. If the demand by collectors exceeds the supply, retired stamps may increase in value, sometimes as much as several times the original retail price.
There are many ways in which collectors may buy and sell stamps on the secondary market. Your first step may be to check out the estate sales in your area, where entire collections of Rycraft Cookie Stamps are often found. In addition, you may want to investigate (1) a secondary market exchange service, (2) ads in the classified section of the newspaper, and (3) the Internet on such sites as Ebay. Also ask your local retailers, as they may know of other Rycraft collectors. Perhaps the greatest collector demand for Rycraft stamps is for the annual Collector's Dated Christmas Stamps, starting with Rycraft's first edition in 1973.
Design Numbers, Editions & Variations
Numbers beginning with "F" indicate design masters which were marked according to Eleanor's first numbering system. Numbers beginning with "U" indicate design masters whose numbers were unrecorded. Numbers beginning with "S" and the year carved, indicate specially-made custom stamps not sold to the public at large. Numbers which do not begin with a letter indicate the most recent stamps produced using our current numbering system. In order to indicate the various editions of a cookie stamp design, we have used the symbols 1E, 2E, etc. after the design number. This indicates that the original design was recarved at a later date with some sort of modification to the design. The letter "A" or "B" following a design number indicates that the same number was inadvertently assigned to two different stamp designs which were unrelated to each other.
There are, no doubt, some editions and/or variations which are not included in this handbook, either because the master carving was misplaced or the stamp is one-of-a-kind, perhaps from the first year when Eleanor hand-carved each individual stamp. If you notice such an omission or find an error, we hope you will contact us to let us know of any corrections, stamp designs or variations of designs that we have overlooked.