Thursday, August 29, 2013

Consulting Conpendeums and Codecies - Information on Collecting Corning Pyroceram

Collecting Corning Ware is kind of a misnomer.  Though I often say it myself, in essence what I really do is more of a "rescue" than actual collecting.  That being said, I kind of collect the Wheat pattern, but then again, not really, cause I use it.  (though not as much as my Cornflower and my French White)  What is it that really constitutes "collecting" and a "collection"?  Is it some invisible line that is crossed?  What makes something a collectable?  Does it hinge upon it's value?  Is it tied to demand?  If there is only 1 of something, but no one really cares about it or desires to have it, then is it worth anything?

Perspective:  Gold is only valuable because it is a rare metal and people desire to have it.  Iridium is significantly rarer than gold, yet worth about 3/4 as much due to the lack of demand for it.  

Collecting, by definition, simply means "to bring together in a group or mass" or "to accumulate as a hobby or for study", which kind of fits, since I bring pieces together into a mass that fills every nook and cranny of my kitchen.  It has become a hobby, of sorts, since I hit every single thrift store that I see.  (which drives everyone I know absolutely bonkers)  There is also some element of "study" involved, as I try to track down a pattern or figure out dates and contemplate mystery pieces.  But I still don't really like to call it a collection or what I am doing collecting.

What makes a "collectable", well, collectable?  I think of "collectables" as being things that are placed on a shelf together to be observed and admired, but not ever touched.  Hummel figures are an excellent example.  Another would be my mother's English Bone China Tea Cups.  Granted, she has some cups that she does use fairly frequently, but most of them sit on little mahogany cup shelves to be admired from a distance.  This is because they are either extremely old (pre-1900), extremely rare or just extremely valuable.  That is a lot of extreme-lies.

In the case of Corning Ware, it is neither particularly old, particularly rare, nor is it particularly valuable.  That's a lot of particularities.  There are many sellers on eBay who would love all of us who are interested in amassing pieces, for cooking purposes, to believe that it IS a rarity and thus worth the small fortune they keep asking for their pieces.  But in actuality, it's really just not that valuable.  Sorry eBay sellers.  I can walk into a thrift store and buy that 2 quart (A-2-B) saucepan for 3 bucks and a lid for .99 cents, so I am not going to pay you $34.99 and $12.00 to ship.  Not gonna happen my friend, so get over it.

Now that I have totally slammed 90% of the Corning Ware sellers on eBay, that is not to say that some of the patterns aren't rare.  BUT, most of the "rare" patterns are the later ones through the mid to late 90's.  Consequently, though there weren't as many pieces made, they are only about 20 years old tops; most are significantly younger.  That really doesn't move Corning Ware into a "collectable" status, nor into "collectable" prices.  I'm just sayin'.

That is why I like this first book in particular.  It notes, at the very beginning of the book, that Corning Ware is really not old enough nor rare enough to warrant being considered an actual "Collectable"; at least, not yet.

I had distinct pleasure of meeting Debbie and Randy at the Portland Antiques Expo in 2010.  They were fascinating to talk to and their booth was overflowing with Pyrex and Corning Ware.  I will say that Pyrex opal glass is kind of a phenomenon... There were SO many casserole and mixing bowl patterns that were released and then discontinued almost immediately that it has created a collecting frenzy.  Personally, I love Opal Pyrex.

but back to Corning Ware.....

It was from Debbie and Randy that I learned about the book they had released back in 2008, attempting to document the patterns of Corning Ware. (Cause inquiring minds want to know) Randy and Debbie have also written multiple books on other types of collectable glass such as Heisey and Fenton elegant glass.  Both of which, though from the same era, are not the same as Depression glass (they wrote a book about that too)

My only issue with the book, is not really an issue per-se.  There is just no possible way that ANY book on a product like Corning Ware is going to be able to get everything in it.  There are too many weird test market pieces, strange patterns and promo items that really and truly are a rarity and actually HARD to find as well as being poorly documented on Corning's part.  This was why I was so perplexed about my 1 pint Saucemaker; for it isn't mentioned in either book that I own, but it can be found on the Corning Museum of Glass site a the P-5 - with a lot of masking tape.  There are several patterns missing from the book such as Autumn Meadow, American Oil, Pink Trio, Farm Fresh and Peach Garland.  While Classic Black and French White are in there, including the blue and gold trim, there is no mention of French Bleu or French Bisque.  They did get the Casual Elegance line into the book though, which even I tend to forget about, but "French White II?" is missing as well. (That's another post)

Which brings me to book #2 by Kyle Coroneos (2005)

This book is slightly older, and doesn't deal with pattern dating as much as it does with the actual pieces that were produced.  Being shapes, sizes and materials, (i.e. the switch from Pyroceram lid to clear borosilicate lid to tempered lime glass lid) as well as covering Visions cookware to some extent. (which the previous book does not)

Both offer prices for pieces, but both are pre-recession, so take the pricing with a grain of salt.  Honestly, I think most of them should be dropped by about 25-30%.  But, that is just my opinion.

There are also two web sites that I enjoy consulting immensely and have learned many things from both. 

BlueCornflower.com is a study of all things of the Cornflower persuasion, both P series and A series pieces.  There is also a section for all those Spice o' Life lovers out there as well as a section on Microwave Browner/Crispers.  Don't ever fear getting lost among the pages though, for either Hamlette, Spamlette, Porkchop & Petunia or Piglet will be there to guide you through the site. 

The second site I enjoy visiting, and the one that tuned me into the existence of Centura Cornflower, is CorelleCorner.com.  Though primarily a site for Corelle lovers, due to the crossover of several patterns between Corelle, Corning Ware and even Centura, there is some fascinating information on these as well as some Pyrex and Suprema products.  All meticulously compiled from brochures and corporate materials.  This site truly rocks.

Sadly, Corelle Corner is no longer alive and well on the net.   

So with 2 books and several sites, including Corningware411, dedicated to items of the Corning Ware persuasion, does that make it a collectable?  Do you consider Corning Ware to be an actual "collectable"?  Do you consider yourself a collector of Corning Ware?  Do you use what you collect, or is it merely for decorative display with your vintage kitchen theme?  Do you collect more than 1 pattern?  (I do this myself)  Is this really all just open to interpretation? 

Where is your Corning Ware (collection) ??
~~

6 comments:

  1. Interesting post, as always.

    I consider myself a pyroceram addict. I love the thrill of the hunt and enjoy using it everyday for cooking, serving and storage. My resent acquisition of plastic storage lids has increased the usefulness of the grabit-it's and minis making freezing small servings of soups and sauces a snap. My cupboards boast of Blue Cornflower, Minis, Grab-its and French White.

    Looking forward to you next post. -- Denise K.

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  2. HA HA HA!!! I am sure my mother would call me an addict as well. She thinks I am insane.

    The best thing about the Grab-Its and the Minis (P-41 & P-43) is that if you have a "Corningware Corelle Revere outlet" nearby... You can still get the platic lids for both the Minis and the Grab-its. I got a bunch up in Centralia, Washington a couple years ago for 1.49 each. They DO make excellent freezer storage for individual portions. Love them!

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  3. I just placed a second order for the plastic storage lids from World Kitchen. They are having a sale making the price for the small ones anywhere from about .99 to 1.49 if you buy two or more. Also ordered for the 1 1/2 quart round french white and the 1 1/2
    qt. square blue cornflower.

    Denise K.

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  4. Shane - a great post and some great information on Corning Ware. I still do occasionally see pieces that I've never seen on either of the websites you've given. Most recently, I saw a Spice 'o Life rectangular pan that was larger than a brownie 8x8, but smaller than the A-21-B lasagne pan. I wasn't sure what it was.

    As for collecting, I'd say something becomes collectible only to the person who deems it worthy of collecting. If not a soul wants object X, it's not very collectible. You could throw Corning Ware at my friends and they would probably hurl it right back at me. They have absolutely no interest in it.

    As for me, I'm a burgeoning collector, bordering on obsession. It's taken me a substantial amount of restraint to not pick up every Corning Ware piece I see in a thrift store. I'm more a mish mash pattern collector, with most of mine in the Blue Cornflower. Then I have a few Spice 'o life, some French White, some Grab Its, and Spring Bouquet/Wildflowers pieces.

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  5. Hi Shane,
    I still have my 36 year old wedding gift Corning Ware! I have several pieces--it was a nice affordable wedding gift! Does this make me a collector? When I realized I couldn't just go to the store and buy some more, I started buying it at Goodwill. Now I've given some to my sweet daughter-in-law. I spread the pyroceram gospel. Thanks for a great post and for all your good recipes.

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  6. Once again, thank you for great information! I have the Kyle Coroneos book, and while it does contain useful information, I have found the pricing information to be quite inconsistent. A one quart in one rare pattern will have a price suggestion that is very different from the price suggestion for a one quart in another rare pattern. An alphabetical index to help locate patterns in the book would be useful. It would also be nice if the pattern list was a bit more complete. There are lots of patterns that are not even mentioned in this book. The information that is there is a good starting point, though. Keep up the good work, Shane. You're a wealth of information, and a pleasure to read!

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