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How Biscuit Jars Changed How We Think About Cookies

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

I remember visiting grandma's house when we were young. One of the most memorable things about her house was the cookie jar which held a prominent place on the counter and inside always, without fail, were iced oatmeal cookies from Mother's brand. My mom and aunts would sit around with grandma, discussing life with a cup of coffee and cookie; each enjoying her afternoon snack in her own way.

Now, cookie jars grace the shelves of collectors more often than the counter of the American kitchen; but the allure of the promise of sweet treat remains. These diminutive jars date themselves back to the 18th century in England where they are typically called biscuit jars or biscuit barrels instead of cookie jars.

The early biscuit jars were often made of glass with metal lids, their rise in popularity coinciding with the advent of afternoon tea. Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford originated afternoon tea in the 1840s to tide her hunger over until the late hour of dinner. In true English fashion, something had to be created to house the sweet treats being served. Makers such as Wedgwood, Coalport, Bristol and others all began producing their own beautiful array of jars.

Slowly, biscuit jars came to America where we call them cookie jars. The earliest cookie jar was made in Zanesville, Ohio by the Brush Pottery Company. They soon became wildly popular with multiple manufacturers rising to prominence.

Whether you call them a biscuit barrel or a cookie jar, they still hold the promise of a tasty snack inside paired with the nostalgia of childhood memories. If you'd like to own your own piece of this treasured history, preview the 22 lots of biscuit jars featured in our auction this week! Click here to preview them all!

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