Overall: 13 1/4 × 7 1/4 × 7/8 in. (33.7 × 18.4 × 2.2 cm)
intaglio (inverted): on obverse: "schöne / Raritäten"
handwritten in ink: on collector's label affxied to side: "2474 / Swiss"
Rectangular wooden cookie board carved on both sides with four separate images of circus animals doing tricks with performers or trainers.
Pastry shops used molds like these to create large cookies out of gingerbread or colored sugar dough, similar to the tiny "Devisen" cookies popular among children. The mold evokes the early tradition of traveling carnivals and circuses in Switzerland, with two equestrian performers on one side and a Cabinet of Curiosities - the children peek into a box of "Schöne Raritäten," or wondrous rarities - and bear tamer on the other. Not only does the mold convey its Swiss roots in the style and costume of the carved figures, but also equestrian performers were beloved in Switzerland and the bear was the symbol of the Swiss capital of Bern, where tamed dancing bears were a popular tourist attraction. This object was once part of the folk art collection of Elie Nadelman (1882-1946), the avant-garde sculptor. From 1924 to 1934, Nadelman's collection was displayed in his Museum of Folk Arts, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The Historical Society purchased Nadelman's entire collection in 1937.
Purchased from Elie Nadelman, 1937
Purchased from Howard, Sept. 1928; The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.