On the Water

Jelly Mold Core

This creamware core for a jelly mold, in the form of a pyramid or obelisk, was made after 1778 by Neale & Co in Staffordshire, England, and was used to make table center decorations for fashionable dining. The Wedgwood manufactory made similar items, and in the late 18th century, American consumers purchased most of their fine pottery and china from dealers who imported goods from England.

The outer section of the mold is missing, but this decorated core was positioned on a rim inside the outer core. With the assembled mold inverted, liquid calves’-foot jelly was poured into the cavity through the holes. When the jelly had set, the mold was turned upright, and the outer core gently lifted off, allowing the floral pattern to appear through the transparent wall of jelly.

In the later 19th century, the Victorian passion for colorful edible jellies took hold, generally made in copper or tin molds. Table decorations made of molded marzipan, sugar paste, butter, ice, ice cream, and jelly were often highly elaborate, and their use in banqueting has a long and colorful history. The pyramid, or obelisk, was a motif that appeared in designs for table decorations from the 16th to the early 19th centuries. Eighteenth-century European porcelain and fine earthenware manufactories produced figurines and table centers in imitation of earlier decorations made of sugar paste.

With our thanks to food historian Ivan Day, of Historic Food at Wreay Farm near Penrith in Cumbria, England, please see www.historicfood.com to see how this item was used in the 18th century.

ID Number:
Place Made:
ceramic, earthenware, refined
9 in x 7 in x 7 in; 22.86 cm x 17.78 cm x 17.78 cm