Monday, August 4, 2014

Percolator Progeny Promulgation - The Corning Ware P-119 Percolator and It's Descendents

In 1959, Corning released it's first percolator.... The P-108 (8 cup) and the smaller P-106 (6 cup)

By 1960, Corning faced a problem with said percolators.....   The original design was completely constructed of Pyroceram and, due to the cumbersomeness of the larger 8 cup pot (seen above), the spouts would inevitably become chipped during cleaning from accidental and sudden impacts with the enameled cast iron sinks of the day.  

As a consequence, Corning discontinued the original P-108 in 1960 and replaced it with the P-119 (9 cup) model.  The P-106, being less cumbersome than it's larger sibling, wasn't replaced by the P-116 until 1962.  These percolators were endowed with a stainless steel collar and rim that eliminated the possibility of chipping during washing.  This would, however lead to the infamous recall that Corning was forced to make due to the method of attachment being less than reliable (but there is more to the story and the recall is not all inclusive... though eBay and Etsy would have everyone believe so)

The issue lies in the fact that NOT all P-119 & P-116 Percolators are created equal......  There are actually 2 Generations of these first stainless steel spouted pots.

Generation 1 (first released in 1960) is the one that is not only glued, but clamped as well... This is evident from the bolts that actually hold the band onto the pot.   These are usually easy to identify because the bolts are, more often than not, exposed.

This is due to the fact that the little black plastic "cover" has been lost over the years.  These pots ARE 50 years old, so it was bound to happen at some point in the pots history.

If you remove the bolts, you will discover that these 1st generation pots are both epoxied and clamped.  Even if the glue is compromised over the years, the handle and band are still secured around the top of the pot... Though your coffee may still leak out from under the band if the epoxy is worn out.

At some point, though I am not sure when at this point, the handles were modified.   I suspect that customers were complaining about that small plastic cover piece getting lost.  This little changes led to the second generation of the P-119 & P-116 Percolators.

Unlike Generation I, Gen II's solid handle was affixed to the stainless steel band before the whole assembly was glued to the top of the pot.  This is evident by the lack of any screws and the small hole on the underside of the pot handle.

Thus began the irritating, and sometimes shocking, tendency for the pots to separate from the handle assembly and liberally bath the unsuspecting host's or hostess's leg in a deluge of hot coffee.

This tendency towards separation is what began the recalls of the Corning Ware Percolators.  The list of recalls is somewhat extensive and includes not only stove top percolators, but Electromatic ones as well....  They are as follows:

Stove top percolators:

P-116 & P-119 (Both 1st and 2nd generation handle styles)
P-146 & P-149

While the original P-106 (1959-1961) and P-108 (1959-1960) are completely safe for use, it wasn't until the release of the P-166 (6 cup) and P-169 (9 cup) in the early 80s that they became "safe" again. (because they are Pyroceram pots with a stainless steel band and handle that is clamped around the pot)

Electromatic Percolators:

P-6-EP, P-23-EP, P-80-EP, P-280-EP, P-480-EP, & E-1210 (without the code)

Sadly, there were but a few Electromatic Percolator made that were truly safe for use.  Though it can be argued that the P-23-EP (the original model) is "safer" than the others, they are ALL glued together.  It is just that the epoxy they used was different on the first P-23-EP pots, while consecutive models have the the less stable epoxy type.  The later produced E-1210 percolators with the 3 digit code etched into the stainless steel band to the right of the black handle are deemed safe.

If you are a hardcore collector, you probably have a few of these setting around and may even be using one or two of them.   I would advise extreme caution when using, the tendency for separation from repeated heating and cooling can be somewhat alleviated by using both hands when pouring your coffee.   Simply hold the handle in one hand and support the bottom of the pot with your other hand (using a pot holder of course).

Happy Perking!

Where is your Corning Ware Percolator??


  1. I've never had one, but I picked up your blog on a google search. I have other Corning Ware pieces from the time I was married in 1968, but I've always had an electric stove. I had a wire thing to put on the heating coil when I used my Corning Ware on the stove top. Well, I moved to a house with gas and didn't know if I could put the Corning Ware over the gas flame. If I understand correctly it's OK with the older Corning Ware. That's good news. You're performing a valuable service here. Thanks so much. I'm going to enjoy reading your blog. Betty

    1. You don't need the wire heat diffuser with corningware I stick mine directly on the burner

  2. Great post on these particular percs. Answered some questions while at the same time, created new ones..LOL Thanks Shane ;-)

  3. I have a E 1210 with a -8 next to the 1210 Percolator. Is it one of those that was recalled.

    1. Yes, the only E-1210 percolators that were not recalled were thr ones with the 3-digit code etched into the metal band on the right side of the handle.

    2. Yes, the only E-1210 percolators that were not recalled were thr ones with the 3-digit code etched into the metal band on the right side of the handle.


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