Friday, May 27, 2011

I *hearts* vintage kitchen

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 ;-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

American Sweetheart

I'm a happy lady today. It's often the little things make the most difference. Just having a belly full of a simple, delicious sandwich lunch & a glass of sweet tea to wash it down can do wonders for my mentality.

But the funny aspect of it is the fact that the plate I ate the sandwich off of makes me so happy.

First off, it's Depression Glass. A category of dishes I was quite certain I didn't want to collect. (You might correctly point out that I said the same of Fiesta a while back as well).

Why I singled out Depression Glass so early on as a no-go is for a variety of reasons. So many patterns to remember and recognize. Prices can vary dramatically, from fairly common and affordable to wildly expensive and rare. The often ornate and delicate patterns sometimes come off to me as being 'fussy'. I tend to go for much more simple fare, or just the opposite - whimsically tacky.

There's also something almost paralyzing to me about the idea of having items that I regard as being 'for everyday use' - such as plates, cups, etc. - but knowing that they are within the realm of being 75+ years old and potentially irreplaceable, either in the literal sense or from purely budgetary standpoint.

In the end, this wrangle I have with ordinary use items versus collectibles to just put up to look at is one of the reasons why I think I gravitate so much towards Pyrex collecting. I'm generally a lot less fearful that I will break or ruin a piece, but if I do, I'm optimistic I could find a replacement within my generally meager budget.

But since I found this plate, I've used it all the time - despite my fears of Depression Glass & concerns about it's relative fragility and replaceability. Perhaps its tie-in to the Pyrex I like so much is part of it?This plate is "American Sweetheart" manufactured by Macbeth Evans from 1930-1936. This pure white color is known as Monax (Forgive the severe yellow coloring to this photo. It was the only photo I took that the pattern turned out reasonably clear on). This company would later be acquired by Corning (the then manufacturer of Pyrex). So you could definitely say this type of material is a forerunner to the tempered opal Pyrex pieces of the mid-1940's to 1980's.

I bought it on a lark during this last highway yardsale. I made a stack of unpriced dishes in the hopes the lady would give me a bundle price - which included this luncheon plate, a couple of Hazel Atlas dishes and some old Avon bottles. 2 bucks total, my kind of deal!

But in my usual style, I had no idea what I was buying. Little did I know that "American Sweetheart" is easily in the top 10 most popular Depression Glass patterns. I suppose I should say "Score!", but in truth, I feel a little bit daft when things like that happen. And mostly, I'm just grateful for the times that I end up on the happy side of the expression "Live & Learn". ;-)

I realize, too, that my "collections" are evolving concepts. I have been collecting Fire King Charm pattern since a few lucky thrift finds, but haven't been completely honest with myself about the fact that I'm far more drawn to the Azurite pieces than the Royal Ruby or Forest Green. Noticing the light blue tint around the edge of the American Sweetheart plate gave me the idea to mix and match with the one place setting of azurite Charm I have. Loved it! It's far more fancy and girly than I tend to go for, but I am totally enamored.

I frequently wonder how other fans of vintage glassware decide from the myriad of items, styles, colors & manufacturers, which exact patterns & pieces they truly have a passion for collecting. Happy accidents from thrifting? Family had similar items? See something in an antique store that was 'love at first sight'? Or just love a hodge-podge of it all?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Birthday Blues

My birthday present: a set of 3 turquoise Pyrex mixing bowls. I now have 6 of 8 pieces - just missing the largest mixing bowl and largest refrigerator dish.

Hubs and I headed to another antique district we hadn't been to before. Lots of neat pieces I had only seen in pictures before. I was tempted by a turquoise Hazel Atlas Kitchen Aids print bowl, but the 30 dollar price tag made me sigh.

But I was thrilled when I found this Pyrex set. It was at the absolute top of my price range, but significantly cheaper than its book value or typical ebay price range, so I was very, very happy to buy it. A birthday splurge!
Top of my microwave (which is my defacto display area). Had to bust out with some matching Butterprint pieces.

We got lost trying to find the antique store and ended up in Georgia. We passed up a few thrift stores before my husband was willing to admit we were lost (lol), so we decided to stop. Found two refrigerator dish lids. No actual dishes, but just finding the lids alone is always a plus. I'm eternally looking for them but counting these I've only found 5 total in over the last year of thrifting.

Very good birthday!