Since my first couple blog posts were a bit more professional, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, but a bit more frivolous. That topic is vintage Pyrex. “Pyrex?”, you ask. Well, yes, those old casserole dishes and bakeware that are probably lining the back of your grandma’s cupboards.
Like many people, I’m not really sure how and why I started collecting. But, I can tell you I only started earlier this year and I already have a couple dozen pieces. What’s the old saying about love–it happens slowly at first, then all at once? Yeah, that’s happened for me and Pyrex! I even “had” to buy a second vintage hutch to accommodate my quickly growing collection. (Speaking of that cute little hutch, my Heywood Wakefield obsession is worthy of its own post sometime in the future!)
The first Pyrex pieces I bought were from our favorite Cincinnati-area antique mall, Ohio Valley Antique Mall. My first Pyrex purchase was a pair of glass storage canisters labeled “Cookie Jar” and “Cracker Barrel.” Being the crazy fur-mom that I am, of course I bought them to hold kitty and doggie kibble, respectively. (If you must know, the Cookie Jar holds my dog’s kibble because he’s sweeter than the cats hehe.)
How it all started…
After this first purchase, I started keeping my eyes peeled for other Pyrex pieces during our regular rounds at the local antique malls, markets and fairs. I started researching various patterns online. (PyrexLove is a particularly good resource for trivia about and photos of the various patterns.) When I become interested in something, I become…a little obsessed, maybe. I prefer the term “passionate.” I checked out patterns and prices on eBay (there are some deals to be found) and Etsy (all stores are overpriced). I even started swinging by thrift stores–Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army, oh my!–on a quest to score forgotten treasures for a couple bucks. Sadly, I just haven’t had any luck with these impulsive thrift store visits. I’ve come to the conclusion that we must have a fairly sizable community of professional antique resellers in the Cincinnati area who know when these shops put out their newest wares, and are at the doorstep to quickly snatch up the most desirable items!
Humble beginnings of my collection…
I never thought I would be a “thrifter” myself, but Instagram posts of people bragging about finding pristine #rarepyrex #inthewild (meaning: found at a cheap price at a thrift store, garage sale or flea market) inspired me to check out thrift stores. Who knew that Instagram has such a thriving vintage collector community? Well, it really does, and it’s full of some very nice, very passionate folks. Furthermore, #instasales are a wondrous, and highly dangerous, thing! There are dozens of #instashops that sell vintage collectibles, and a growing number of shops devoted almost solely to Pyrex and related vintage kitchenware. Instagram shops have regularly-scheduled sales as well as #flashsales; the lucky first buyer usually claims the desired item(s) by commenting with a PayPal-enabled email address + ZIP code. Instagram Pyrex/other vintage sales can be a stressful, hectic place when:
- The seller has done a particularly good job at promoting his/her sale – usually via a giveaway or shop discount offered for users who share a marketing photo on behalf of the shop
- The seller is offering highly-desired pieces at great prices
- The seller is offering some of the rarest Pyrex out there – some pieces are known to have sold for thousands of dollars on eBay, so whenever these pieces come up for sale, they’re going to be snatched up
That one weekend I went crazy on #instasales…
I really only have one real-life friend who shares my Pyrex collecting passion, and she lives in Florida. Even still, we enjoy sharing our finds and latest treasures on Instagram and Facebook. It’s nice to have someone I know and who’s around my age understand my love of this fun, cheerful kitchenware! Also, I have made some “friends” on Instagram through the Pyrex buying and selling community.
My older family members seem to find it a bit amusing that I collect Pyrex. My mom just can’t believe why and how there is such a sizable collector community of items she received as wedding gifts in the ’70s and continued to use in the decades following that. One day, I was over at her house for lunch and asked when I might be inheriting that ’70s Pyrex she had said I could have to add to my collection. Well, I didn’t have to wait any longer because she immediately started rummaging through her deep corner cabinets to unearth the long-buried treasure. “You act like we’re ancient,” she commented in response to my excitement at the vintage casserole dishes, mixing bowls and refrigerator dishes she had just heaved onto her kitchen counter. #freepyrex is one of my favorite patterns!
My aunt has also promised me some (highly collectible and valuable!) early to mid-’60s Pyrex, so I’ll be collecting that as soon as I refinish my Heywood Wakefield hutch.
Pyrex haul from my mom’s cupboard…
I even committed to a visit to the “dirt market” (i.e., flea market) over Thanksgiving weekend with a good friend, since I’ve heard rumors that collectors have great luck finding cheap Pyrex there. I STILL refuse to hit up garage sales. I draw the line there! Anyway, I may have an interesting story or two to share from the dirt mall.
(Most of) my Pyrex collection as of today…
Perhaps by the next time I write a Pyrex post, I’ll have narrowed now my collection to focus on just a few patterns…ha, right! There are just too many to love, and clearly I haven’t done a good job “focusing” my collection so far. I believe that it’s simply impossible to not be happy when surrounded by such lovely bake and cookware that’s been well-loved and used by generations of ladies–and of course, probably some men too!
What do you collect? As a folklorist and researcher, I’m always fascinated by what and why people collect. Feel free to share your thoughts below.