I can only imagine what my mother thought in July when I kneeled in front of a stack of boxes at a church yard sale and started digging.

But when she saw me surface minutes later with a sunny yellow Pyrex dish, carefully wrapped in paper towels and nestled among dishes of the same vintage, there she was beside me. After mining the entire stack of boxes, we each walked away with colorful additions to our kitchens, joking about the hard work that goes into building a vintage collection.

That’s the life of a Pyrex addict.

Really, I’m an accidental vintage Pyrex collector. It all started with a pair of cheery pink-and-white daisy casserole dishes I found at a yard sale a few years ago. It’s since blossomed into a collection of brightly colored bowls, baking dishes and mugs that, well, just makes me happy. I grew up exploring flea markets and antique stores with my mother, but never collected anything until I stumbled into the wonderful world of Pyrex.

Each piece was found “in the wild” at yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores and the occasional antique shop for less than I’d pay for a new dish. All are charming, even when fading or scratches hint at their long and busy history. My favorite dishes were gifts from people who know Pyrex is the fastest way to my heart.

There is something about Pyrex that always evokes a response – even if it’s merely to tease me about my collection. The line of kitchenware is familiar to most Americans: their grandmother used this yellow mixing bowl for mashed potatoes, or their mother cooked in that casserole dish every week for 20 years.

That these dishes are still around and in use – and I do use all of mine – is a testament to the kitchenware Pyrex promised was “Tough as nails and guaranteed!” (They can go into both the microwave – though I avoid that – and the oven.) Corning, which made Pyrex in the United States, introduced its iconic colored bowls and casserole dishes in 1945 after producing clear glassware for decades. Made of opal “milk glass” and painted in bright colors, the new sets were affordable, durable and fun.

Nearly three generations later, they are popular with collectors across the world.

As crazy as my collection seems to some of my friends, I’m hardly alone in my love for Pyrex. I’m in awe of the collections I see online, with stacks of shiny bowls and rare pieces in patterns I didn’t know existed. I oooh and ahhh over the photos other collectors post, and learn from them how to clean pieces that seem beyond saving and how to best display sets. (Not that I have many complete ones, but there are plenty of yard sale seasons ahead to remedy that).

When it comes to vintage kitchenware, I don’t discriminate: If it’s milk glass, I probably love it. Our collection – and I say “our” because my husband, Adam, is my biggest enabler and loves it almost as much as I do – includes FireKing, Federal Glass, Hazel Atlas and Glasbake. Most of my collection is from the 1970s and earlier.

But, in the end, it’s Pyrex that will always have my heart.


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