Collectors are known to look in the basement or attic for coveted family heirlooms, but the kitchen may be the best place to find valuable objects from the past. Kitchen objects of old from fine china to appliances are popular with collectors and can hold their value well. Look for good design elements and good conditions to identify value in cooking collectibles.
Some of the most coveted, popular and valuable vintage objects associated with cooking and kitchens are the most commonplace, too. These collectible objects range from aprons to zesters and are making a strong market impact. Utensils, flatware and vintage appliances all have interest to vintage estate sale and yard sale shoppers, thrifters and collectors. Collectors are interested in how food was made in the days of yore, and that’s why Victorian food processors and midcentury modern can openers still bring good prices on the collectibles market. But when it comes to really valuable collectibles, a few objects stand out.
What cooking collectibles are valuable, and which are popular?
In addition to vintage appliances to make the chore of cooking easier, cookbooks are always collectible and sought after with collectors, as are serving spoons, platters, trays and flatware. All things being equal, some of the most popular cooking collectibles are also the most obvious. After cookbooks from all periods and regions, it is the dishes that win the day.
I’ve heard that entertaining is a dying art form, but the objects used for entertaining are certainly gaining in popularity.
The large fine china serving sets are slowly moving out of fashion, but collectors are still looking for the big names in fine china wares, such as Haviland for Limoges, Lenox, Herend, Royal Copenhagen, Royal Doulton, etc.
My video call appraisals with clients, young and old alike, express to me that clients are busy searching online, at thrift stores and at estate sales to find fine china pieces to add to their collections. Seasoned collectors are busy telling their grandchildren about the value in fine china. As a result, many fine china sets are staying in families for the next generation.
This is a fine china collectible category that is enhanced by offerings, sales and specialty websites found all over the internet. Keen collectors who must have an elusive gravy boat to complete a large china dinnerware service are no more active collectors of fine china than those collectors who only want two teacups in a particular pattern by a major or little-known manufacturer. It is all about taste.
What do they look for, and what commands high prices?
The answer is specialty patterns, hand painting or gilt, an established maker and quality.
Collecting just a few individual fine china pieces is en vogue now. Mixing and matching is acceptable, unlike the tables set by today’s collectors’ grandmothers. And some collectors seek out fine china specialty pieces like oyster plates, trays, bone dishes and other objects from the past. No matter the size of the collection, fine china is sought after by today’s collectors, and they are paying good money to get the style and pattern they want.
Values vary widely based on manufacturer or maker, pattern, condition, etc. Either way, fine china remains a desirable collectible.
Another cooking collectible that has been growing in popularity is cookware and ovenware. A midcentury modern example of this trend is the collectability of CorningWare. CorningWare ovenware is produced from Pyroceram, a ceramic-glass material that can withstand major thermal shock. It is synonymous with the look of America’s mid-1900s kitchens.
Some of the valuable patterns of CorningWare are based on simple designs like the Blue Cornflower pattern introduced and manufactured circa 1958 to 1988. It is a blue flower pattern on a white base in a country manner. Today’s collectors are grabbing it up off the estate sale, yard sale and thrift store shelves and adding it to their own collections or reselling it online for top dollar. Blue Cornflower pattern pieces were made in large numbers, and it was the quintessential CorningWare pattern — a trademark of sorts. CorningWare is a mainstay with collectors and chefs alike. CorningWare continued to produce other decorative patterns in the 1970s and beyond, but the Cornflower Blue pattern makes collectors dig in their pockets and pay for the look of the kitchens of the 1950s.
While collectors amass many objects from the kitchen, these are just a few of the trends that I see in the market and are discussed with my fans, clients and followers on social media and beyond. It goes to show you that cooking collectibles are still hot.
With a Ph.D. from Penn State University, Lori Verderame is an award-winning antiques appraiser, author and TV personality. She appears on “The Curse of Oak Island” on the History channel. For information on antiques and collectibles, visit DrLoriV.com and YouTube.com/DrLoriV or call 888-431-1010.