The answer to “How old is my mold?” is not that simple but here are the basics. The material the chocolate mold is made from is our best clue. When the chocolate molds were first made in 1830 in Paris the only metal material that was soft enough to be stamped was copper. The use of copper presented a few problems the first being that the chocolate stuck to it so the solution was to wash the copper with silver. This allowed the chocolate to release and stopped the copper from oxidizing. Silver was expensive so the manufacturers moved to tinning the copper molds.
In the early 1900’s the manufacturers developed a process to use steel which was harder and more durable than the copper, didn’t dent as easily. The steel had the same issues as copper in that the chocolate would not release, again tinning was the answer. The tinning released chocolate and protected the steel from rust. Tinned Steel was the material for chocolate molds until after the Second World War. There are two exceptions one Plattinol (an early German version of Nickel plating steel with a goldish tone) and Solid Nickel Silver (developed by Jaburg Bros. in New York) both of these were available to chocolatiers to purchase at a premium, not many did order this material so few of these mold were made.
The final metal used for the old chocolate molds was nickel clad steel. This became available after WWII (the late 40’s). The nickel clad steel sheets could be made thinner and did not require tinning to release the chocolate. Most of the old molds made by Vormenfabriek , Hornlein and Weygandt were this material.
If you can figure out the material your mold was made from you can get a general sense of when it was made. Copper 1832-1910ish, stamped steel that was tinned 1910ish – 1948ish and Nickel clad steel 1950 – 1970. As far as an absolute date… a very small percentage of the antique molds that were made were actually dated but I’ll cover that in my next blog about marks.
P.S. A quick way to tell if your old chocolate mold is copper is – check with a magnet it will not stick to it if it’s a copper mold.