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Collecting Vintage Heart-Shaped Cutters

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Vintage or new, intricate or simple, these charming tools have been shaping sweet memories for decades. The earliest shown here (such as the heart with the round hole in its back, center) date to the 19th century, when tinsmiths crafted cutters from spare snippets of metal. Mass-produced tin cutters came next, followed by aluminum cutters -- common in the 1930s -- and then plastic cutters a decade later. Copper became popular and collectible later in the 20th century. Designs with flat backs and holes generally predated those with handles. But it’s difficult to date a cutter definitively because so many reproductions have been made, and tin ages quickly, looking well-worn even when it’s not.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

These tin cutters, likely from the mid to late 19th century, have darkened with age. Some had holes in the back to make them easy to lift up with a finger.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

The style of the heart shapes and the sizes varied. Cross bars replaced holes, but then fell out of favor. Kreamer, on one of the strap handles here, refers to the name of a big baking-pan manufacturer at the time.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

By the early 20th century, aluminum was generally the material of choice (the two here, from the 1930s, have painted-wooden handles), but early plastics were also used. Cookie cutters were often made in the four card suits -- and hearts were the most popular.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

These cutters are from the mid 20th century, though some old styles were reintroduced. The more recent cutters are deeper, with thicker metal. All except the dotted star were made from a mold out of pressed metal.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

As cookie cutters had a resurgence in popularity in the late 20th century, reproductions of favorite old styles became common, making it hard to date them. These are most likely from a mix of eras.