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?