Antique Butter Churns and Kitchen Collectibles
Missouri couple whips up remarkable collection of antique butter churns
Highly sought one-quart Dazeys, left to right: the 'bevel edge' (made in 1906-12); 'round label' (1912-22); and the 'slope shoulder' (1922 patent era). A one-quart churn would make about a half-pint of butter, Dea Allen says.
Butch and Dea Allen have, uh, beaten the odds ... literally. This St. Joseph, Mo., couple has combed the country in the process of building a remarkable collection of antique butter churns, cream whippers and egg beaters. The Allens are modest about their collection, quick to say it's not the biggest nor the best you'll find. But neither is it chopped liver.
Fifteen years ago, as she moved an antique cabinet into her home, Dea fixed a sharp eye on the decor.
"I need a butter churn to put on top of that," she recalls saying.
Out-producing your average rabbit, that one antique butter churn has since evolved into 300 churns.
"We got that one, and then we found out there were other sizes," Dea says.
"There were not a lot of people collecting Dazeys then, and that's what we concentrated on at first. We started out to get a representation of the Dazey line, and when we got pretty well through that, we started looking around. We found there were a lot of neat churns."
Soon their collection spread not only deep (Dazey churns, crates, can openers, thermometers, scales, pop bottle openers, pencil sharpeners, as well as pieces by other manufacturers) but also wide: Nearly countless egg beaters, cream whippers, milkshake makers, mayonnaise mixers, and more.
"I like the mechanical parts," Butch says. "But we like anything that whips, beats or mixes."
When the Allens started buying antique butter churns 15 years ago, they'd pay $40 or $45 for a decent churn.
"If we had to give $150 for a churn, that was a terrible price," Butch says wryly.
Collector interest in antique butter churns continued to grow. Then, about five years ago, the Internet began to be a factor.
"The internet has changed this hobby dramatically," Dea says. "We've been online for five or six years; we've gotten some good leads through it."
"You don't have to put the miles on the car, and you don't have to wait a half a day at an auction for something to come up," Butch adds. "But that doesn't mean we don't still like to get in the car and go."
The bottom line? Whether it's electronic or face-to-face, the Allens like the thrill of the hunt, and the chance to meet other collectors.
"We just like to talk churns," Butch says. "But the best part is the find."
"Well, that, and the people," Dea says. "We've met so many neat people."
As experienced collectors, the Allens say the most important advice they give to novice collectors is to do their homework.
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