Ice cream is a food group in the Johnson house. We make it, buy it, and consume it year-round. But, we’ve never collected anything related to the frozen concoction.

If we did, this would be a great starting place — a pewter ice cream mold in the shape of a ship.

A pewter ice cream mold in the form of a ship. (Photo: Garth's Auctions)

A pewter ice cream mold in the form of a ship. (Photo: Garth’s Auctions)

The mold was offered during the Eclectic auction held December 7, 2012, by Garth’s Auctions. The piece was a page-stopper. You know what I’m talking about. You’re flipping through an auction catalog or browsing online when you see something that makes you stop and think, “That’s pretty cool.”

Suddenly I realized I know practically nothing about ice cream molds. There were no related books in our reference library. A quick Internet search was of little help. However, ice cream molds were listed in Warman’s Country Antiques Price Guide, which Liz and I wrote in 2001. As we noted then:

References to pewter ice cream molds date to the late 18th century, and the forms were used well into the 20th century to mold the popular dessert into a variety of shapes. Ice cream molds are often thick-walled to help maintain the cool temperatures needed.

The majority of pewter ice cream molds are individual serving molds. One quart of ice cream would yield eight to ten molded pieces. Banquet molds which held two to four pints of ice cream are relatively scarce.

The diversity of ice cream molds is practically unfathomable. Food appears to be the most prolific subject. Molds include the usual forms you might expect, such as strawberries, grapes and other fruit, as well as all kinds of eatables that aren’t as logical, including asparagus spears, corn on the cob, roast turkey, pickles and pork chops, according to one online seller.

Other examples range from a woman on a bicycle to Santa Claus, and from Mother Hubbard to a skull and crossbones.

When it comes to buying ice cream molds, it’s still a buyer-beware market. A variety of shapes have been reproduced.

Anyone who has a hankering for ice cream molds will likely have an interest in The Ice Screamers, the collector’s club for all things related to the frozen treat. Visit them at

As for that ship offered at Garth’s, the two-part mold was American, late 19th or early 20th century, embossed “DES COP’D 1898.” Measuring 13 inches long, it sold for $470 (with buyer’s premium).