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Catalog Number 0002.117
Description Star Butter Churn, c. 1922-1927. Barrel-type churn for making butter. Wooden barrel with red wooden lid. Lid is mounted with a black iron clamp. Iron crank with wooden handle. Unit is mounted to a wooden frame base for cranking. "Star" is written on both sides in black script. "OK" embossed on lid rim.
Object Name Churn
Collection 3D - Food Processing & Prep Tools & Equipment
Title Star Butter Churn, c. 1922-1927
Date mid 1920s
Species Churn, Butter
Creator Star
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text "Star" (written on both sides in black script); "OK" (embossed on lid rim)
Notes "This is a Star barrel churn. The oak barrel was just tumbled end over end until butter formed. There were no paddles inside the barrel but since the barrel was only filled half full the cream would churn as it fell inside the barrel. The barrel was rotated between 40-80 revolutions per minute depending on size. Smaller churns would be rotated between 60 to 80 revolutions/minute and as the churns got larger the revolutions/minute could be decreased, approaching the 40 revolutions/minute on the largest sizes. It was important not to over crank a barrel churn. The cream needed to fall from one end of the barrel to the other as it rotated. If the barrel was cranked so fast that centrifugal force held the cream at the end of the barrel the butter would not form. One disadvantage of any churn that revolved was that it needed to be sealed tight so it would not leak. The lid had to fit tight and the churn could not be vented. If pressure built up during the churning process the churn needed to be stopped and the pressure relieved.

"The barrel churn pictured above is a size 0 which was 5 (later called 6) gallons and the smallest size. It sold for $2.85 in the 1896 Sears and Roebuck catalog, decreased to as low as $2.35 in 1912 and went back up to between five and six dollars in the 1920's and 30's. Star barrel churns were still available in the 1942-43 Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog but the price jumped to $7.19. They did not appear in the 1945-46 Sears catalog. The Montgomery Ward catalog listed their brand of barrel churns in this size for $3.00 in 1894-95, $5.00 in 1922, $5.95 in 1935-36 and $6.25 in 1940-41. The fact that this style of butter churn was sold for over 50 years tells one how popular they were. These butter churns were also available from Sears in 9 (later called 10), 15, 20, 25 and 35 gallon sizes although by the 1920's the two larger sizes were no longer sold in the hand crank version. Sizes 15 gallons and above could be ordered with a pulley to be driven by an external motor, engine or treadmill. For many years Sears referred to their power driven churns by the name "Success".

"The earliest Sears barrel churns had a star symbol stenciled on the barrel and in the mid 1920's the butter churns had the word "Star" like the butter churn pictured above. The 1927 Sears catalog referred to the factory being in northern Illinois. We suspect that the Star barrel churns were made for Sears by J. McDermaid of Rockford, Illinois. We have seen a J. McDermaid counter weight that refers to the Star churn. In addition, John McDermaid was granted at least three patents for a lever system to seal the lid of a barrel butter churn that was identical to the lid used on the Star butter churns. The dates of these patents were October 9, 1888, March 19, 1889 and September 8, 1891."
Dimensions H-33 W-24 D-15.5 inches
Dimension Details Artifact measurements only. Object is mounted to table-style base with short legs that measures 9.25h x 18.75w x 28"d.
Search Terms Dairy Industry
Household Industry
Subjects Butter
Butter making
Dairy products industry