Vintage Pyrex Dishes – Practical Plates and Bowls

by Kathy | Disclosure

Vintage Pyrex Bowls

Looking for some inexpensive practical kitchenware? Stuff that looks quaint and will survive a nuclear holocaust? Comes in a very wide variety of sizes and shapes? Need a cheap hobby? Vintage Pyrex is the answer for all your varied needs! Vintage Pyrex bowls, casserole dishes, plates, platters, cups, mugs and refrigerator dishes are hard to damage, are so cute you’ll just want to pinch their little glass cheeks, and collecting them will provide hours of cheap entertainment making it a fun hobby to boot!

You’ll probably remember this stuff from your mom or grandma’s kitchen. Glass plates, mugs, casseroles, baking dishes etc. It always had some pretty little motif stamped on the side or the rim. Just adorable! Now I remember a time when Pyrex was seen as tacky by some … not cool at all, but everything old comes back around and vintage Pyrex is now a collectors dream! That is if the collector wants to use the items … not sure about resale value for them. Corning made so much of this stuff I’m sure the value is low on most of the common designs. But that makes them ideal for the collector who plans to use the items. And that’s my collector’s dream ;-).

Tough as Nails

These dishes are available is such widespread abundance because they were produced in large quantities for 40+ years and are so hard to damage that a very large percentage have survived to grace your kitchen now. The glass was manufactured using a special process that creates a hard to chip glass.

I inherited a few of these dishes under the Corelle brand name as a new bride. Over the years I’ve managed to break only a few of them and believe me I tried ;-). I’m pretty clumsy in the kitchen so this is something of a miracle! I’ve found about the only way to damage them is to drop them on a ceramic tile floor. They generally survive wood and vinyl intact.

Vintage Pyrex is made from borosilicate glass. The related product Corningware was also produced by Corning and is made of pyroceramic glass. Corelle tableware was released in 1970 and is made from a kind of glass called Vitrelle. What they have in common is the design for durability and withstand thermal shock. That is the manufacturer wanted you to be able to take if from the oven to the table to the freezer without shattering.

Lots of designs

You’ll find a huge variety of designs produced over the years when you begin your search. Pyrex type glass was produced under many different brand names. Names like Pyrex, Fire King, Anchor Hocking, Glasbake, Federal and Gemco to name a few. Corelle is the brand for dinnerware. Corningware is a very similar product with the same kind of durability.

Care of Vintage Pyrex

People will say not to wash vintage Pyrex in the dishwasher. They are right, to a point. If you have a piece you really cherish like I cherish my tulip bowl do not put it in dishwasher. It’s possible that the detergents will damage the design. That said though I do dishwasher wash virtually all my vintage Pyrex, vintage Corningware and Corelle without any issues. They are inexpensive pieces so I’m not too concerned about damage, so in the dishwasher they go!

Pyrex and Corningware are famous for going from freezer to oven to table then back again. Should you continue to use your vintage pieces in this way? Well, I’m no expert on this and wouldn’t presume to tell you what is safe to do in this instance. I’ve noted that modern Pyrex is made somewhat differently and there have been many reports of pieces shattering explosively! On many threads I’ve read people report using their vintage pieces in this way without problem for years. Others argue that the age of the dishes make this inadvisable. I can’t really say, so what I’d advise is caution. Read some of these posts and forum threads and decide for yourself what you’d like to do in your kitchen.

  • Chowhound – Long thread discussing peoples experiences.
  • The Kitchn – Another long thread discussion on exploding Pyrex.
  • Pyrex Loves – She gives her take on the issue.

Sources for Vintage Pyrex Dishes

Vintage Pyrex, Corningware and Corelle turn up everywhere! You’ll find it at thrift stores, low end antique dealers and garage sales. Many times people give it away as cast-offs. I’ve gotten most of mine this way. I’ve bought some Corelle new over the past 10 years or so. It’s still really inexpensive new and they have a couple of designs I like still in production. Other things that are more unique I’ve bought on eBay.

Tell us about your vintage Pyrex, Corningware and Corelle … what do you love about it?

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Granny LOVES a great discussion! A thoughtful, in-depth look from all angles benefits us all. If you disagree let us know! But please remember you're in Granny's house and be respectful of that. If you wouldn't say it in your Grandma's hearing please don't say it here! No name-calling or foul language. Those comments that don't respect Granny's home will be deleted.

Thrifty Mom In Boise December 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I have a sizeable collection of vintage pyrex and I absolutely love it. I use it every day. I mostly collect the aqua and pink colored dishes and bowls. I have way too much fun with it.

Kathy December 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Way too much fun is a great thing 😉

Anne Kimball December 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

Great post, Kathy! I did have a glass dish explode on me once, but I think I read years later that they changed the way they were being made, and that the older ones were safe as could be.

Thanks for linking up with the TALU!

Kathy December 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

I’ve had one explode too, a modern clear glass storage bowl, but it was really my fault. I set a frozen bowl down for a minute on a hot burner without thinking. Wow, was that a shock :-)

Trish December 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I was just looking at the nesting “Cinderalla” bowl sets on eBay over the weekend and was stunned at the prices. What was I thinking when I let Mom give all her sets away? Avocado, Harvest Gold…a set in white with some kind of brown something on it…. forehead slap!

Kathy December 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I hear ya … some designs are pricey now. I think the tulip bowls have gone up some since I bought mine. Still cheapest on eBay I think. But a lot of the 70s/80s era stuff is pretty reasonable still. And I still find whole set of those designs taped together at Goodwill.

Farmlife Chick December 5, 2012 at 9:40 am

I love vintage pyrex. I have my grama’s set. They are not cheap around here though. Some of the dishes are $35 at flea markets! Makes it very hard to collect, but I always have my eye open!:)

Kathy December 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

When I look at the flea market/antique malls here I see prices that high or even higher! I’m always a bit shocked but I notice the pieces marked that high just don’t seem to sell. So I hunt around and I usually find a thing or two much lower in a different booth. Thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army are still a great place to look for 70s/80s dishes. They don’t have a high resale value anywhere I’ve seen … there is just too much of it I guess!

Adrienne December 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I LOVE these dishes. Thanks for the reminder! I have to keep my eye out now. thanks for sharing at our blog hop.

Adrienne December 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

One question – do you know anything about lead and cadmium content of these? I would love to use them but have been cautious about bakeware, etc. these days. Thanks!

Kathy December 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

As far as I know they don’t, though I suppose it *might* be possible in the decorative designs. Since these are generally on the outside of the dish I haven’t been too concerned with it. I’d guess if there were an issue it’s likely to turn up in the 50s/60s era pyrex which I’ve avoided mainly because they are highly collectible and generally cost more than more recent dishes. The glass itself should be allright … it’s basically glass with boric oxide added to the mix. Wikipedia has this to say:

Borosilicate glass is created by adding boric oxide to the traditional glassmaker’s frit of silicate sand, soda, and ground lime.

This gives it the ability to withstand temperature change extremes.

Nancy@livininthegreen December 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I enjoyed this post! It’s a great way for new cooks to get started in the kitchen. Especially to mix and match the Pyrex would be lots of fun. I only have new Pyrex which I don’t use a whole lot, but I really love them. These sound like a fun gift to give to someone who would appreciate them…thanks for the info!! Blessings!

Jupiter December 7, 2012 at 11:17 am

I have some deep sentimental attachments to vintage Pyrex. I always make sure I snatch them up at yard sales (and usually people don’t know what they’re worth). My hubby thinks I buy them to re-sell on Etsy but somehow they never leave the house. Oops.

jen December 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

My grandmother had a set and I almost took it with me when we were cleaning out the house (she’s gone and my gramps is in a care facility now). I decided against it only because I have so many dishes now. Also they were this peachy pink color — ugh. Kind of wish I had them now though. :(

Robin @ Thank Your Body December 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm

My neighbor has a pyrex collection that you would believe! All thrifted. Awesome stuff.

Jacqueline @ December 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Hi, Kathy!
Welcome back to the Deep Roots At Home “EOA” link-up :) These look just like some Pyrex/Corell I have :) Thanks for teaching us about it. I would like to feature you tomorrow on the link-up. I thank you for sharing with us…you are definitely an encouragement to so many of us! I do hope you will continue to share every Wednesday!

kristy @ Gastronomical Sovereignty December 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

i adore vintage pyrex. so cute!
thank you for sharing with us at the wednesday fresh foods link up! i’m looking forward to seeing what seasonal & real/whole food posts you have this week. hope to see you there! xo, kristy

vickie estes May 16, 2013 at 2:20 am

I love my Pyrex. I have mostly bought mine from garage or estate sales. I just bought five new bowls from a estate sale. I can really get excited over a good buy.

Hope August 27, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Did pyrex make corelle and gemco?

Kathy August 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Hi Hope … pyrex, corningware and corelle were all produced by Corning. Gemco was a different company though they copied a number of cornings patterns. I have a Gemco sugar bowl and creamer.

John November 16, 2013 at 10:20 am

I am searching for two 11-inch Pyrex pie plates, model #211 (not 210!) circa 1930-1950. I found these only on eBay, but have not been able to register as a new buyer, even using 3 diff. emails! Help?

Kathy November 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Hi John … have no idea why you would be able to register on ebay … did you contact their support?

Julia Williams December 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Love your website! I have a ‘vintage’ set of all white Pyroceram tableware by Corning (the old, heavy restaurantware type). It has been in constant use for 40 years now. My Dad started collecting the set for me when I was a young teenager for my hope chest. I love it so much. White works for everything; you can dress it up easily with color place mats, napkins and napkin rings or even decorative chargers underneath. I never purchased china because I never needed it. Or, you can always go ‘au naturale for casual every day use. Oven, microwave, dishwasher, freezer and refrigerator…it handles it all beautifully. If you have a chance to get your hands on this stuff, snatch it up quick; you won’t be sorry you did. Yes, it is very safe (I made inquiries of the company many years ago about lead content etc). My set has made it through single years, married life, 6 kids and now 8 grandkids; I couldn’t ask for a better product. What a great investment my Dad made for me 40 years ago!

Kathy December 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm

What a wonderful story and such a thoughtful Dad :-)

Ramdin January 4, 2014 at 4:26 am

A collection of dishes and bowls are perfect to serve appetizers, main course or even dessert.

dc January 12, 2015 at 5:21 am

I have a set of pyrex plates from the 60’s that I inherited from my mom. I use them a lot, but after putting two in the microwave for 90 seconds to warm it up, a molten hole developed in the center of the bottom plate. Afterwards the plate cracked.
Kind regards.

Kathy January 12, 2015 at 7:51 am

How strange dc! Just wanted to note that I have a collection of vintage Corelle plates. I’ve had them almost 20 years and they have been in a microwave many thousands of times without incident.

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