We want to recover, restore and preserve Victorian candy making equipment and techniques before the skills and equipment are lost.
What are we trying to do?
We are trying to save some Victorian candy equipment and return it to use before the equipment and the skills to use it disappear. To do this we are turning to the new technologies of Kickstarter to save these old technologies from being lost.
What is Lofty Pursuits and Public Displays of Confection?
Lofty Pursuits is a toy store and soda fountain located in Tallahassee, Florida run by Gregory Cohen. Public Displays of Confection is the new project here with candy master Wes Raley to rescue and restore Victorian era candy making equipment to once again make hard candies in a style that has almost been lost to time.
Some berry candy we have made using similar equipment we have.
The candy is still new to us, but here is a blurb about Gregory Cohen and what he has done with the American soda fountain that was posted by the New York Times.
Wes Raley forming hot sugar.
With the soda fountain we have taken the best from the history of the genre, and we have mastered the skills to bring the soda fountain forward in time. We are now doing this with hard candy. Wes, our candy master had has a rapid fire year, moving to Tallahassee, marrying his childhood sweetheart and having a child. His candy is a lot like a second child, full of love and care. He and his apprentice Uri (yes, you have to apprentice to learn these skills, and just like Wes did, Uri and others are doing now) are making by hand candy, using the same techniques that would have been common 70 years ago.
What will this money be used for?
We will be acquiring equipment from a closed store called Mullane's, that was founded around 1848 in Cincinnati, OH.
Here is a photo from the late 1800's of Mullane's candy store, it is the five story building with the heart shaped sign. The building is still there, even if the candy company is no more.
The equipment we will be getting is a candy press and 19 sets of interchangeable candy rollers made between 1860 and 1890. This is one of the largest set of rollers surviving. This is a single chance to rescue this equipment from gathering dust in a private collection or in a museum, and to restore it to candy production. The last owner of the candy part of this business has this original equipment, probably purchased for the firm around 1885. The current owner has worked hard with us to sell it to us at a price we can afford. He has turned down other offers that were more than ours where the machines would be in private collections or on display. Instead he accepted ours, because he too wants the machines to stay in use making candy. We will be acquiring 19 sets of drop rollers and a frame for them that were made by Thomas Mills and Brother of Philadelphia PA.
A photo of some of the equipment we are trying to obtain.
These rollers are very rare, and this collection has some of the rarest designs around. Included are four sets of rollers that were custom made for Mullane's candy store embossed with the name of the store. With these rollers come the secret recipe for their Nectar flavor, that has not been made for about 25 years. We will be reintroducing this 100+ year old recipe. The store's owner has also included for us a Collum's Butter Cup Cutter from 1885, another hard candy tool from the time that we hope to restore and use to make hard candies filled with chocolate or peanut butter.
From the best we can tell these rollers have not been used since about the 1940's. They will require some restoration to make them usable and food safe. This will take about a month. We have a lot of experience restoring this old equipment, we currently have five other candy machines of the same era that we have already restored.
We just finished fixing up a Ribbon candy machine from 1865. We just produced the first batch of candy on it on Christmas eve.
Like all restorations of this type of machine, some parts will have to be fixed using reverse electroplating, others will be polished, sanded and filled. If the shafts are worn, shims will have to be machined to replace the missing metal. This will take time, love, labor and some money. Thankfully we can do most of these repairs ourselves so the cost is not as high as it could be.
What Do You Get In Return?
Being a backer means you are actively participating in the preservation of a nearly lost art form, and that you will help it continue into the next generation. Once lost, skills like this are rarely recovered. You will be helping preserve one of the wonderful combinations of food and technology. As a thank you we will send you some of the candy we make, T-shirts or other tokens of our thanks as well as credit in the upcoming on-line museum of our candy equipment collection. We can't preserve this bit of history without you. Any pledge amount, no matter how small will be appreciated and will help.
How do I pledge with Kickstarter?
Just go to the top of this page and click on pledge page that is run by Amazon. You can pledge any amount over $1 but certain amounts will get you thank you gifts from us here at Lofty Pursuits.
All or nothing?
Either we raise the full amount or we raise nothing. That is how Kickstarter works, so if we do not raise our goal, you will not be charged. You only get charged if we can make this project happen.
You can help in other ways!
We are always looking for donations of old candy and soda fountain equipment. If you want to find a good home for this old equipment, please let us know.
A Humbug Cutter that we have restored.
Any money raised above and beyond our goal will go to tracking down, acquiring, preserving and restoring more Victorian candy equipment.
You can see more about Wes Raley making candy here.
You can see some machines we have already restored here.
You can see our candy at our site, that has a domain name I have had for a very long time www.pd.net. Looking at what we make will show you what we are about.
Thank you for supporting our Kickstarter project.
Yes, all of our candy is Vegan. The food colors that can make some foods non-vegan don't tend to hold up at the heat we work at.