Here is a very rare piece of Red Painted Toleware: a mid-19th century Cheese Cradle. Cheese cradles were used in general stores to hold wheels of cheddar or other round cheeses. The cheese rounds would stand up on end in the cradle, making it easy for the proprietor to cut of hunks for the customers. Wooden versions were also used in formal dining rooms during elaborate dinner parties, but I believe the tin ones were used mostly in general stores.
This cradle measures 13 ½” x 8” x 4 ¾” tall at the handles. It has a very graceful swoop to the body, and the curved body has attached legs that form a pedestal base. The edges of the cradle are wrapped around wire. The red painted surface has yellow highlight lines on the side and black lines on the base. The cradle is in very fine condition: there are no splits, cracks or areas of rust. The surface is dry and crusty, with the paint 75% or more complete. I’ve seen other tole cheese cradles, but those have dated from the late 19th century and are green or black with stenciled decoration. This one, I believe, to be older.