Historical Overview

The History of Rycraft Cookie Stamps

Historical Overview

For over 42 years, thousands of satisfied Rycraft customers
have been developing treasured collections of Rycraft Cookie Stamps.
The colorful history of their development is outlined below.

STAGE I – 1965 - 1967

Eleanor Rycraft's first attempts to carve cookie stamps probably occurred in 1966, described below in Robin's 3/20/10 email to the man who sent the photo below right:

"Dear Peter,

 I looked at the stamps you purchased and was quite taken aback. I had forgotten these early beginnings. They were made by my folks probably in the mid 1960's. The seed cleaning plant that dad owned had just burned down and finally dad didn't have to go to work at a job he disliked greatly.

 Mom had a stroke in 1963 or 1964 and couldn't throw on the wheel anymore so these stamps were an easy way for her to decorate clay pieces, now mostly hand built. This was the beginning of our business.

 The insurance money gave my folks a bit of time to think about the future. Helping mom with her new handicap, he carved tools out of broomstick wood and stamped the clay stamps you have to make  designs. I still have all the wood tools that dad made. They were made to use in combination with other tools and they were all made with his pocket knife.
 Mom and dad would be amazed to know some of their stamps turned up in Germany.

 I am continually reminded of the blessing given to me and my family by my parents for a business that has supported us and many others over the last 40 some years.
 Great to hear from you and hope all is going well. My best to you,

Eleanor Rycraft at her potter's wheel circa 1960

Above: The stamps Peter purchased on Ebay USA were
some of the very first Eleanor made using Carroll's tools.

Above: More examples of Eleanor's earliest
cookie stamps carved and/or hand-molded
out of terra cotta as well as white clay (pre-1967)

Eleanor sold her first stamps
in 1967, and they were
approximately the same
size and shape as they are
today. Although Rycraft
has produced several shapes
of stamps over the years,
all but the current round
shape were discontinued
by 1991.

Pictured at right: Early stamps were
sold glazed and unglazed, and were
made of white, brown, gray and red
terra cotta clays.

In 1966-1967, stamps
were individually carved
by Eleanor. She used
several types of clay
(white, dark brown, gray,
and red terra cotta). No
two stamps were alike. 

Pictured at right: Examples of early
pear designs. In 1967, no  two
stamps were carved alike


Stamps were sold either
unglazed or glazed with
sky blue, white, yellow,
or dark brown glaze. The
round, square and heart
shapes were evidently the
only shapes made.


STAGE II – 1968

Carroll Rycraft invented
special tools for carving
the stamps, which was
now being done by either
Eleanor or Carroll. Design
masters were used for the
first time to produce more
than one stamp with the
same design.

Above and below right: Examples of
early geometric designs sold. Because
they were carved individually, no
two stamps were alike


Round, heart, and square
shapes were the only
shapes made. They started
putting holes in the handles
for attaching a shortbread
recipe booklet, tied on with
a piece of twine.


STAGE III – 1969 - 1970

There were a total of nine different
shapes of stamps: round, square,
diamond, heart, 'dogwood,' 6-sided
flower, hexagon, 5-pointed star,
and 12-sided flower. Aqua, red
and green glazes were used for
the first time.


Above right:

Examples of the ten shapes
sold by Rycraft, from left to right:
Top Row - 12-sided flower, hexagon,
round; Middle Row - diamond, "dogwood",
heart, square; Bottom Row - Easter egg,
6-sided flower, 5-pointed star.

Examples of the faces
of the ten shapes of stamps

Below and right:
Examples of the heart-
shaped stamps in white clay

and terra cotta clay.

STAGE IV – 1971

Some handles had markings
on the tip: (1) a contrasting
dot of glaze, or (2) a special
"RC" mark imprinted on the
tip. They stopped putting
holes in the handles.

STAGE V – 1972 - 1976

All stamp shapes except round
and square were discontinued
after 1971 with the exception of
an Easter-egg-shaped stamp
which was made in 1975 and
1976 only. White clay was no
longer used. One of the last
designs carved by Carroll
Rycraft was the first annual
Collector's Dated Christmas Stamp.

STAGE VI – 1977 - 1991

Round and square were the only
shapes made. Red terra cotta clay
was now used exclusively.

In 1981 Robin started carving new designs, and his wife Rachelle also carved three designs.

Above: Robin carving a design.

Right: Robin sold these Christmas
ornaments for a couple of years,
but we had no examples
of them until a customer sent these
to us with this letter.

3/1/14 Email

Dear Rycraft family,

I hope I'm sending this to the right person. If not, please forward. My name is Nancy F... I grew up on the same end of town with the Rycraft kids, and I remember the name Erin, but can't find her in my year book. Perhaps my name rings a bell?  CHS '73. My mother's friend Marge King used to work for you. When I married in 1977, she gave me 3 of your Christmas ornaments as a wedding gift. I still have those ornaments, but no longer use them. I also own quite a few of the cookie stamps, as well as an old yellow recipe book! I wonder if you  might like me to mail these old ornaments to you? I have perused your website, and don't see them anywhere. Can you open the attachment of the photo I took of them? If not, I'll try again. Thank you for your time.

Nancy F – Glide, Oregon

Click here to order the current versions of these 3 designs:
#031 – Noel Stocking#275 – Christmas Candle, #025 – Jingle Bells

3/4/14 Reply
Dear Nancy,
I am Robin, Erin's oldest brother. Marge worked for us for many years. I remember the ornaments. They were the first we tried to make. A lot of water under the bridge since then. If you wish, you can send them to us. We have no examples of those ornaments so I would appreciate them very much. I am letting Erin know you contacted us. Thank you very much.
Robin Rycraft

STAGE VII – 1992 to date

Round was the only shape made. They changed to leadless glazes in 1997. And in 1998, Joe Patterson, and later Dan White, joined Robin Rycraft in carving designs until 2006 when Robin began doing all the carving again.

In 2009 the square cookie stamp was re-introduced due to popular demand.

At right: A Rycraft collector's
home display board 

1994-1998 – Rycraft
Project Sheets

From 1994 through 1998 Rycraft produced four Project Sheets featuring our cookies and crafts made with Rycraft cookie stamps. Click here to see them and find links to complete project instructions and photos.

1995 to date
Rycraft Visual Aids

Beginning in the mid 1990's, Rycraft also provided Visual Aids picturing Rycraft cookie stamps and decorated shortbread cookies, which were displayed on Rycraft's 70-stamp countertop shop display boards given to Rycraft retailers for their brick-and-mortar storefronts. The photos featured this emblem:





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