Do you thrift? I’ve been thrifting since I was 14 years old. My first thrift experiences were long before that, but I started seriously buying for myself in my early teens. As a child I went to bazaars & rummage sales with my mother & grandmother, who would find them advertised in the Pennysaver or newspaper & cut them out or circle them as a reminder. We would also go to thrift shops, antique shops & garage sales; one of my grandmother’s neighbors used to have a garage sale every summer & we’d always stop in & buy something. When I got older I began searching for vintage Levi’s 501’s, motorcycle jackets, vintage corduroys or whatever other retro clothes would complete my super punk rock look. I bought old jeans & made purses (& cutoffs) out of them. I bought denim jackets to stud & patch. I bought old coats- my favorites were a leopard fur one & a red plaid one with a shearling collar. I bought old scarves. Military camo jackets. Vintage t-shirts with weird sayings. Red plastic Pan-Am bags.
Yep. I was pretty awesome.
My thrifting took a break for
a few many years when the well seemed to dry up. I went to a few places & didn’t find a damn thing, not to mention the prices went through the roof. So I quit for a while. I did notice that all the good stuff ended up priced astronomically high in NYC consignment shops & the urban hipster thrift stores, however. I said screw it, gave up. And then I got inspired by bloggers who find amazing thrift pieces. Not to mention Xenia & all her amazing thrifty finds, & Ariana too. So I started to ease back in: Goodwill, Savers, St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift shop, etc. I didn’t find much in the way of clothing anymore, so I decided to give up & look for other things instead. I figured I’d go with no expectations. Just wander in on a hot, summer day (or a day when I had nothing else to do) & see what they had. I have an obsession with all vintage or retro housewares, like the things below (the first seven items of which were not thrifted- they belonged to my grandparents & great-grandmother respectively, the last was bought on eBay as a gift for me years ago), and so I decided to stick with searching for things like that.
Before I start showing my thrift finds, I thought I’d share some of my favorite vintage housewares & kitchenware stuff with you. Warning: there are A LOT OF PICTURES here.
Not photographed for this post but much beloved: jadeite juicer & measuring cup, 1968 Sunbeam mixmaster
Keep in mind this is NOT everything. If I took photos of everything, I’d be taking pictures all day long. This is just a select few of my favorites. I have my grandmother’s crystal & two of her tea sets/dinnerware from the 1940’s that isn’t pictured. And also, that’s just housewares. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of ALL the collectible stuff I have; vintage & antique toys, cameras, etc. Some people just don’t get the vintage thing, I know. And that’s fine. A lot of people don’t get the DIY thing either… whatever. To each his (or her) own. I don’t think I need to explain why I love it so much, to me it’s obvious.
These ones pictured above are particularly interesting. They aren’t thrifted- they, too, belonged to family. However they’re a real piece of history! The FDR Presidential Library doesn’t even have as many of them as I do. I think they’re pretty amazing. Special, really. Not just a vintage set, but one that has a lot of meaning & history in it, seeing as how it relates to both Presidential memorabilia & historical memorabilia as well as Prohibition memorabilia.
I’ve always been into the vintage thing. I’m the kind of geek who watches American Pickers & gets excited over the things they find. My engagement ring is 75 years old & was my grandmother’s- it’s safe to say I love all things pretty & vintage! But it wasn’t really until lately that I started really doing my research on vintage housewares. Then I began looking in earnest for things like vintage Ball jars, vintage Pyrex/Fire King/Federal Glass/Anchor Hocking/Hazel Atlas/etc. at local thrift & antique stores. I found some great stuff. Not a lot, but some.
And now… on to my thrift scores!
Jay & I went to a vintage & antiques store in Huntington Station called the Yankee Peddler when we were doing our little annual pumpkin picking excursion last year, and I found a blue Ball jar from around 1923-1933 (according to this site) to add to my vintage jar collection. This may not seem like a big deal to you if you live in an area where there are a lot of thrift stores filled with jars… but here? Nope. You’re lucky if you find one from 1987 let alone the early 1900’s! And seeing how the BALL logo without the underscore was only made for 10 years, this is kind of a lucky find. You see a lot of the screw-top ones from this era, but I haven’t seen many of the bail-top ones.
It’s almost mint condition, so it was well worth the purchase price of almost $10.00, especially since they are SO hard to find around here. I know that seems obscene to some of you, but you have to understand that these things are just not available, so when you find them you have to grab them. I’m sorry I didn’t buy the three large blue Atlas jars that were on the shelf with it, actually, but I sorta made up for that when I found this one a few months later for just $1.99.
The Hazel-Atlas company stopped making jars in 1964. For a while in the 1940’s & 1950’s they were just as popular as Ball jars for home canning. I’m not sure when this one was made, but since it has seams along the sides, I ventured a guess that it’s between 1930-1950. I’m no expert, though, so if you know better please comment & let me know! Vintage & antique fruit jars & mason jars like these are highly collectible. I tend to buy what I like, not what’s worth big bucks. I use these for decoration purposes, fresh flowers & photo ops- not canning. Public Service Announcement: Please, never use the old canning jars with the bail on top for canning. Only ones meant for use with the modern lids & bands can be used for food preservation.
More recently, I added a piece to my mom’s vintage Pyrex ‘Crazy Daisy’ or ‘Spring Blossom’ set. She had gotten it for her bridal shower & had the entire set of 4 once upon a time, but somehow only two remained; the two avocado colored ones with white flowers. The two reverse bowls (white with green flowers) were gone. So… I found this at a local thrift shop for $1.99 and had to get it! Yes, it’s the Cinderella bowl (two handles/pouring spouts) and not the regular bowl, but close enough! And not only that, but it was the correct Spring Blossom pattern of two different ones that were made.
My mother’s two bowls with my new thrift find!
Besides, for that price how could I say no? It’s massive! Amazing for soaking eggplant, letting dough rise, making quick pickles, etc. Now, normally my taste runs more to the black/pink/turquoise 1950’s or early 1960’s Pyrex/etc. But I love my mom’s set, and I think I need to complete it best I can. At the very least, I feel like I should buy matching pieces. Thing is, while you can find them all over the internet, they’re really hard to find in actual secondhand stores. As a matter of fact, that goes for ALL Pyrex or Fire King or Federal. And buying online is great but the shipping KILLS you.
I have to tell you, I was literally heartbroken when I found a large (probably 2 1/2 qt.) 1950’s Butterprint turquoise Cinderella bowl for $3.00 that had a massive chip in the top & gouges in it. DAMMIT! I was tempted to buy it anyway for three bucks but I couldn’t have used it, & it was so damaged it wasn’t even worth buying for a fruit bowl or display piece. But my sadness went away fairly quickly when I picked up this beautiful piece on eBay for a whopping $5.00. Between my eBay bucks & money in my PayPal account it literally cost me no more than $5.00, so I broke my “no online Pyrex/etc shopping” rule. It’s a Cinderella bake-serve-store casserole & it’s in MINT condition.
Okay… that brings me to this gem. Like I said, I’m attracted to pre-1970 dinnerware or glassware. I have an obsession with anything Art Deco or 1920’s/1930’s but I also really love mid-century stuff, anything Mad Men-looking. And that’s why this piece is so exciting to me:
A mid-century (late 1950’s/early 1960’s) Federal Glass Co. milk glass bowl with black diamonds & gold that cost me a whopping $3.93. I believe the pattern is called ‘Atomic Harlequin’, but if I’m incorrect feel free to correct me! I can’t wait to put this on the coffee table with something interesting in it. Maybe wine corks, maybe fresh fruit. Because of this amazing find, I’m now obsessed with Federal Glass & I want to buy some matching pieces.
And speaking of matching pieces, these two plates were a testament to my “good eye” when it comes to this stuff. I saw these & immediately picked them up. My first instinct was that they were something special. They were $2.24 a plate, which I thought was a bit much. Upon further inspection I saw they were Staffordshire ironstone, so I decided maybe they were worth the money. Not to mention I just thought they were so pretty. Turns out they are something special! They were made by Enoch Wedgwood for the Bicentennial in 1976. And yes, Enoch is indeed related to Josiah Wedgwood, of the famous Wedgwood. This line was called “Liberty Blue.”
These bread & butter plates feature Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. The entire set features a number of “American” landmarks or events; Betsy Ross, Mount Vernon, Washington leaving Christ Church, etc. Turns out they’re pretty popular & highly collectible (& prices are “going up”); right now you can buy these plates for about $7.00 each. Another example of how your instinct can sometimes be right on the money. They’re just two absolutely gorgeous little plates… I’m sorry there wasn’t more to buy!
This next one was a bit hard to figure out. I bought it because I love pink depression glass, but it had no markings & was a bit thicker than most. It took me a while, quite a bit of internet research, and I still wasn’t 100% sure if it was indeed L. E. Smith. However, after finding similarly made goblets & tumblers (same seams from the molds, same color, same hobnails) I’ve decided it must be. It’s heavy, very heavy, and the color is just beautiful. I looked up their website & found a vase being sold right now- thought not in pink- that looks just like this one. I paid $.99 so even if it’s worth just $7.50, it’s a decent investment.
Regardless of what it is or what it’s worth, it’s lovely. And I can buy some things to match!
The last thing(s) I’ll share today might not be vintage at all, just like that pink vase. I’m not quite sure because they’re still made in the same exact way now as they were years ago. What are they? Beakers!
If you’re not on board with the “using beakers in the kitchen thing”, I suggest you read this article.
I’ve wanted beakers for a long time. I always thought they’d be cool to use as measuring cups or to put milk in when serving coffee or tea. Or for serving drinks at Halloween parties! Problem is, I didn’t want to buy an entire set of 5 or 6, and I didn’t want to spend $8.00 – $11.00 on one. There are stores that actually sell beaker measuring cups- some are as much as $16.00 a piece. I knew then that my best bet would be getting some secondhand ones. Then I saw these in a thrift store for $.69 each… score! There were actual four of them but one was chipped on top & the other was badly stained. These two were perfect so I stuck with just the two of them. After a good soak & a few washes (just to make sure… they might’ve been from a kid’s chemistry set!) they’re ready to go. These are the most common beakers- named for John Joseph Griffin who invented them. “Low form” just means that they’re the standard beakers; they have a height roughly 1.4 times the diameter.
Here are some things I’m currently looking for when I go thrifting (most of it is wishful thinking!):
- Vintage Ball, Atlas, Millville, Kerr or Lightning jars. From the late 1800’s or early 1900’s right up to the 1960’s or 1970’s. Any color, style or size.
- Pyrex to complete my mother’s set: ‘Spring Blossom’ 1970’s bowls specifically (the earlier models of this pattern).
- Pyrex from the 50’s/60’s in any of the following colors or combinations of colors: turquoise, pink, white, black. Specifically the Snowflake, Barbed Wire, Starburst, Gooseberry, Butterprint, Pink Daisy, Pink Flamingo & Stems patterns, but more so I’d like anything in those particular colors.
- Fire King jadeite swirl mixing bowls of any size, and also the Jane Ray pattern in just about anything (I have my grandmothers tea cups & plates so I’d like to add to it).
- Pink depression glass in any shape, size or object, specifically bowls/plates/pitchers/glasses.
- Federal Glass milk glass with patterns. Mostly mid-century snack sets or mixing/serving bowls in mid-century patterns (i.e. Atomic Flower or Atomic Harlequin, seen above).
- Unique pre-war dishes, especially anything made in Japan or Occupied Japan.
- “Liberty Blue” Staffordshire ironstone Wedgwood items, anything Spode (especially “Cowslip”) or Johnson Brothers “Old Britain Castles.”
- Fenton milk glass.
- Hazel Atlas ‘Kitchen Aids’ pattern bowls/cups/plates or glasses; also any red & white stripe milk glass glasses.
- Hazel Atlas pink charcoal Ovide pattern tea set, Moroccan Amethyst tea set AND pink Crinoline ruffle tea set (including sugar bowls & creamers)!
- Hazel Atlas Moroccan Amethyst bar set.
- Hazel Atlas Can Can Girl bar set (6 frosted glass glasses, one frosted glass shaker). *This is especially important, because Jay’s grandma had this set, and we have ONE glass currently.
- Vintage plates; appetizer plates or salad plates mostly.
- Vintage cast iron skillets, any size.
- Copper pots & pans, any size.
Of course I always look for interesting accessories or jewelry as well, but more so housewares. If you’re a thrifter too, what do you look for?
*Thanks to Pyrex Love, Bob Clay, Replacements.com & Robbins Nest for all the information they’ve provided me with in my searches!