Since Pyrex glassware was introduced to the public in 1915, nearly every single American kitchen has included at least one piece of this ultra-durable, heat-tempered glass. Bold words, yes. But Pyrex’s legacy all but explains its seemingly insatiable demand.
The trend in collecting Pyrex glass began in the 1950s, and really hasn’t waned in all these years. Why, you ask?
And when we say tough-as-nails, we mean it. Pyrex glass’ reputation for oven-safeness is second to none: It’s shatter-proof and able to withstand temperature changes and ultra-high temps, which has virtually cemented its popularity in American culture. Eighty percent of today’s American kitchens have at least one Pyrex product. A peek into kitchens across America leads us to believe this could be due to the brand’s most iconic kitchen tool, the measuring cup.
Fun Fact: Fed up with breaking too many casseroles, homemaker Bessie Littleton, whose husband was a Corning scientist, swapped them out for some industrial-grade railroad lantern glass her husband brought home from work. Based on its versatility, Pyrex glass was developed by Corning in 1913. Just two years later, Pyrex became a household name.
What To Look For
Starting a Pyrex collection? Hunt for these three things:
Collecting Pyrex: A Timeline
Transparent, stackable, square refrigerator storage boxes were introduced this year as a handy space-saving solution for storing leftovers, and are huge with collectors these days. Later 1950s and 1960s examples feature colors and patterns.
Enter Pyrex Flameware. Coffeemakers made this year, such as the Drip, the Instant, the Percolator, and the Vacuum Coffee Maker are, as their name suggests, able to sit over the direct flame of a gas stove, and are highly collectible today.
Finally. Bring on the color! By the late-1940s Pyrex glass became white and/or opalescent, the glass’ new composition was what made it even stronger. Back then, pieces were sprayed pink, turquoise, and yellow, and in primary colors of the day, and also printed with cute, atomic-age Jetsons-like designs. Pyrex casserole dishes in the same, vibrant colors and patterns debut now—with transparent as well as colorful lids, and with or without patterns. And the brand’s highly coveted Cinderella mixing bowls came out in 1957, featuring spout-like handles for easy pouring. Pyrex patterns such as the pink Gooseberry (1957), Eyes (exact date unknown), and Balloons (1958), are somewhat rare, and indicative of the burgeoning positivity and newfound hope ushering into the US at war’s end. Anything released during this era is really what drives the vintage market for Pyrex today.
Now, earth tones (harvest gold, orange, green, brown) are gaining popularity in American kitchens. Pyrex honors this trend. Its Sandalwood (1961) and Early American (1962) patterns feature creeping brown ivies and homestead-y symbols such as fireplace bellows, cornhusks and oil lamps, respectively, while Pyrex’s Town & Country line (1963) exemplifies quintessential 1960s colors. White New Dot (1967) nesting bowls, feature three rows of orange, red, or blue dots; its green-dotted bowl is highly sought after.
Looking to cash in? Remember that an item’s worth is always dependent on the condition of its pattern and color. Scratches, discoloration, cracks, chips, and any other defects are all factors that detract from list prices. Kovels, the self-described “go-to-source for antiques and collectibles information,” is the place to visit when you want to learn more about a Pyrex piece and establish its value. After that, check eBay’s sold listings for prices achieved at auction—because a piece is only worth what someone’s willing to pay for it.
Keep in Mind
Don’t forget to check out all the Pyrex available on Krrb!