For the Love of Pyrex: How to Find the Best Vintage Cookware at Estate Sales

Vintage PyrexWe all have an irresistible urge to find treasure in unlikely places. An estate sale may be just the ticket for your entrance into valuable finds. With these tips and tricks, you can be armed with the map for your treasure hunt when searching for classic Pyrex cookware.

Vintage Pyrex cookware is a popular collectible. Pyrex glass was invented in 1915 by Corning Glass Works in Corning, N.Y., as borosilicate glass that could handle the expansion and contraction created by rapid and extreme temperature changes. It has been used in railroad lamps, science experiments, and, of course, cooking. In 1921, the company Joblings started selling this cookware under the name of Pyrex. It was an instant success, but the most desired collectibles today are the colorful Pryex dishes from the 1940s to the 1960s. These pieces are stronger than the original products and made from a lime and soda mixture. They are made of white or opal-colored glass, sprayed with a cheery color, and stamped with a decorative pattern. As a collector, these are the ones to seek out.

While Pyrex is available in many different forms of kitchen cookware, the four-piece mixing bowl sets are usually the most popular among collectors. This is a set of nesting bowls that stack inside each other for easy storage. The most popular colors tend to be the cheerful patterns in turquoise or pink from the 1950s, but some collectors also like the primary colors and white stripes seen in the late 1960s pieces. The earthenware colors of the early 1960s tend to be less popular, and if you are considering reselling your finds, you would do best to pass on those. Some of the most popular patterns are “Gooseberry,” “Rainbow Striped,” “Daisy,” and the extremely rare “Balloons.”

Around the 1950s, the “®” was added below the name, the encircling wording became TRADE MARK above the name, with MADE IN U.S.A. below. A model number and the capacity in pints or quarts were added above, and OVEN WARE below. Via Pyrex Collector

When looking for a Pyrex piece, the most desirable thing is finding one in good condition. While considered collectibles today, it is important to remember that Pyrex dishes were originally used for cooking. Thus, it is common to find them well-loved and well-used. Be sure to check your piece inside and out. When perusing the outside, check if the pattern is scratched from heavy use or too many cycles in the dishwasher. Examine the inside, and see if it is stained or scratched. Try to find items that were taken care of and appear to have had minimal use.

Consider equipping yourself with your smart phone when shopping at estate sales. This gives you easy access to the internet, and you can check the value of different patterns online. Also, the pattern number is labelled on the bottom of the pieces, which makes it quick and easy to figure out what you are looking at.

Many collectors remember growing up with Pyrex dishes or seeing their grandma use them for special occasions. In addition to a pretty pattern, Pyrex serves a sweet sense of nostalgia and makes great collectibles. You may find exactly the pattern that you’re looking for in mint condition tucked away in a kitchen cabinet at an estate sale.

Photo Source: Hkatee

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