by Anita Mae Draper
|Butter sculpture at the British Empire Exhibition of Prince of Wales at his EP Ranch, Wembley, England. 1924. Glenbow Archives
The postcard above features a butter sculpture display of Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, at his EP Ranch near Pekisko, Alberta which he bought in 1919. The sculpture was created and in public view in a refrigerated case at Canada Pavilion during the 1924 British Empire Exhibition in Wembley, England. According to wikipedia, Edward's mother, Queen Mary, laughed when she saw it and said it was, "quite a remarkable likeness."
The butter sculpture intrigued me. I had seen these types of sculptures in the dairy section of the Regina Exhibition where farm scenes were featured in great detail. Yet, butter sculptures have been a perennial favorite at state fairs, exhibitions, and expositions for over 100 years, and historically have been used on banquet tables and at religious events for hundreds of years.
|Dreaming of Iolanthe. Stereoview 1876 version of Caroline S. Brooks butter sculpture. 1876. Wikimedia
In 1873, farm woman Caroline Shawk Brooks from Helena, Arkansas, created the bust of a woman in a bowl of butter and displayed it under the name, Dreaming Iolanthe. (above) Over the next few years, she continued to redo her creation as a marketing tool, until finally, in 1876, was invited to sculp it in front of a live crowd at the Centennial Exhibition.
The success of her display led to more sculptors taking up the art and helping butter compete during the 1890s to 1930s against a synthetic substitute, Oleomargarine, which we call margarine. Butter sculptures became prominent features at state fairs where dairy producers often showed a cow and calf scene to bring attention to the source of the wholesome butter. The postcard below was published in 1911 and featured a cow, calf and boy scene, yet it was the same, reworked butter sculpture which had been displayed annually at the Ohio State Fair since 1903.
|Souvenir Minn. State Fair 1911, Milton Dairy Co.'s Butter Exhibit front. Wikimedia
For the Universal Exposition of 1904, or commonly called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of St Louis, John K. Daniel sculpted a historical scene from butter which featured Father Hennepin and the guides who led him to the discovery of St. Anthony Falls, the only natural major waterfall on the Upper Mississippi River.
|John K. Daniels's butter sculpture of Father Hennepin and guides discovering St. Anthony Falls, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904. Wikimedia
Another historical butter scene was crafted featuring the meeting between explorer Jacques Cartier and Donnacona. Sponsored by the Canadian Dairy Association, it was displayed at the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition in London.
|Postcard of butter sculpture tableau of the meeting of Jacques Cartier and Donnacona, Franco-British Exhibition, London, 1908. Sponsored by the Canadian Dairy Association. Wikimedia
To complete this journey into the art of butter sculpture, I'm including a present day image of a nativity scene which is on display at the Butter Museum in Maslovice. Such dainty work involved in this art.
|Butter nativity scene in butter museum in Máslovice. Dec 2006. Wikimedia commons Manka
Now that we see all the possibilities of butter sculpture, who would like to guess how many pounds of butter went into the butter sculpture of Britain's Prince of Wales and his EP Ranch which is featured at the top of this post? Here's another view of the complete tableau to give you a better idea of the size and contents...
|Butter sculpture of HRH the Prince of Wales and his ranch (EP Ranch)
You can read previous posts on Prince Edward's EP Ranch at these links:
May 5th - Alberta's Edward Prince Ranch
June 5th - EP Ranch Royal Visit 1923
Anita Mae Draper lives on the Canadian prairies where she uses her experience and love of history to enhance her stories of yesteryear's romance with realism and faith. Readers can enrich their story experience with visual references by checking Anita's Pinterest boards. All links available on her website at www.anitamaedraper.com