I'm still a relative newcomer to collecting vintage kitchen items. No doubt, there is a learning curve to understanding why very similar items can be so un-similarly valued & priced. It wasn't very long ago that I couldn't tell the difference between a Fire King casserole dish & a Pyrex one without flipping it over and looking for a mark. Now I can pretty much tell the difference between Termocrisa, Federal, Arcopal, Pyrex, Hazel Atlas, Glasbake & Fire King from 10 feet away.
It's all shapes & patterns. Once you know them, you just know them. There's definitely things that throw me sometimes, but on the whole, I've picked up a lot of perfectly useful, useless knowledge, lol.
But being so new to collecting, I already feel a sense of being "priced out" of many wonderful vintage items - particularly the 1940's era stuff that I am the most drawn to of all.
Collectibles books only highlight this sense of frustration, with their wonderful pictures and descriptions of canisters sets, mixing bowls, range sets with shakers & matching grease jars. Wonderfully whimsical patterns (who knew Roosters could be so dang cute?). Interesting color names and choices (Chalaine blue, Seville yellow, etc.).(Hazel Atlas mugs, all thrift store finds, and some of the only Hazel Atlas pieces I actually own. Probably not from this era exactly, but definitely the colors & graphic styles I like most of all. I suspect the rooster on the right could be older than the other two mugs, but I don't know for sure.)
I adore 1940's kitchenalia, but simply cannot afford it. Not by a mile. Entry-level pieces, such as a common juice reamer, run in the same 25-50 dollar price range that is my absolute top-out for pretty much anything vintage kitchen.
So for now, I find myself concentrating on 1950's kitchen items that are more in my price range. My absolute favorites are the earliest Pyrex pieces and patterns that run from approximately 1945 to 1962, beginning with the Primary colors and running up through the Early American pattern. The early 1960's ushered in gold tones, browns, creams & neutrals that would eventually become the Autumnal color palette of the 1970's.Early American & Butterprint Pyrex refrigerator dishes, late 50's to 60's patterns. I love pairing these two because of their similar American Gothic/Provincial/Farm & Homestead themes, as well as the brown & turquoise color combination. I believe Early American was actually the first main Pyrex pattern to use gold leaf -usually with the pattern in gold on a brown body - but I only collect the brown & white pieces.
So I can't afford to to buy thousand dollar canisters and hundred dollar mixing bowls, but I can splurge now and again on a compete Butterprint fridge set - a very reasonable 28 dollars for the whole set with lids! I was shocked to find it that cheaply, in fact. In the very same area, they had the whole set of 4 mixing bowls marked for $100.
Alas, I've definitely seemed to miss the boat on the days when Pyrex was a 50 cent yard sale item. Seeing pictures and posts from people who have gotten fridgies & bowls for 10 cents makes me sigh. I did, however, just buy the very cheapest pieces I've ever gotten from a thrift store just the other day. 1 dollar and 50 cents for the two smallest Shenandoah mixing bowls, in nice condition too, so I can't complain too much. I didn't/don't collect that pattern, but at a buck fifty, I suppose I do now, lol ;-)