Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In The Beginning - Corning Ware 1st Generation BPE (Before P# Era - 1958-1959)

So I have been photographing various chunks of my Corning Ware collection over the last couple of months.  This was for a 2 fold reason.   Firstly, I really didn't have anyplace that I could spread it all out and photograph everything all at once and second, well... there is only so much room for a photo on a blog post and I would have to stand back so far to get it all in that you probably would not be able to see much of anything except a bunch of little blue cornflower shaped dots.

Be that as it may, I decided that I was going about this the wrong way.  I should have been organizing my collection by Era and/or generations.  You see, there are several "Generations" of Corning Ware and those generations can be grouped together into Eras.  To make matters even more confusing, some of the patterns within generations can be broken down into "Editions"... Such as the Floral Bouquet pattern.  This is further complicated by the fact that there are separate "series" runs that occur for a short time within a generation that are retired, but then resurface again later...   So lets just start at the beginning...

In the first Era (AKA: Fin Lid Era), which encompasses 1958 - 1961, there were actually 2 generations of Corning Ware.... an embossed bottom generation and a blurry blue ink generation...   but today I am going to concentrate on Generation 1 (numero uno) from 1958 thru 1959.

In the beginning of the beginning there were no P, B, W, N, A, C, S, DC, F, G, U or L model numbers..   You see, Corning was unsure how well their cookware would be received by the American housewife, so they made a limited number of pieces for the initial release in the fall of 1958 to test the waters.....  These would be the 1 quart, 1 1/2 quart and 1 3/4 quart saucepan with fin lids (similar to the Pyrex FlameWare design) along with the 10 inch skillet topped with the infamous pyroceram lid adorn with more cornflowers.  With only 4 pieces, it was pretty easy to keep track of what was what, so no model numbers were really needed at this point. That does not mean that there WEREN'T model numbers.   They existed, but were only found on product order forms, not the dishes themselves.

Corning Ware was such a hot seller that, by Christmas, retailers were screaming for more.  So, in spring of 1959 Corning unveiled 2 additional skillets (9 inch and 7 inch with fin lids), a larger 2 1/2 quart Saucepan and the famed 8 cup & 6 cup pyroceram lipped percolators (which would later be referred to as P-108 and P-106).

All these pieces, percolators aside, have an embossed stamp on the bottom stating either "Corning Ware" with a volume measurement or, in the case of the skillets, width in inches. (7 inch skillet-top, 1 3/4 quart saucepan-bottom)

or simply "Corning Pyroceram" with no other identifying marks.  (bottom of 2 1/2 quart)

There ARE alpha-numeric characters embossed on the pieces as well, as is evident above with the A-19, D 16 and B-34, but these are by no means model numbers... they are glass mold numbers used for quality control purposes.  The model numbers we all know and love would not be applied to pieces until the second Era of Corning Ware in 1962 (3rd Generation) with the the P & W series followed shortly in 1964 by the B-series (and the C-series for Centura coordinated casseroles)

As mentioned before, they existed for ordering purposes, but were not present on dishes or lids.  While the dishes are the same as later, marked pieces, the official fin lid numbers are a little different.   There are only 2 lid sizes and the Pyroceram lid for the 10 inch skillet. 

The 7 inch fin lid is a P-11-C and fits the 1 quart, 1 1/2 quart and 1 3/4 quart saucepans as well as the 7 inch skillet.  The 9 inch fin lid is a P-2 1/2-C  and fits the 2 1/2 quart saucepan and 9 inch skillet.  The pyroceram lid is known as a P-10-C.  The later glass replacement lid was originally released as a P-10-C-1, but after the pyroceram lid was discontinued all together, the model number of the glass lid was changed to P-10-C.

So there you have it....   The 1st Generation of the 1st Era of Corning Ware.

Where is your Corning Ware??


  1. great info! I just bought 2 dishes today from a thrift store and one of them is 1st generation. I find that this one is slightly more yellow than the other (made in canada, A-2-B, for range and microwave). I guess this B indicates this one is produced in 1964?

    I have a question. The made in Canada one has several scratches on the bottom and black is exposed through the scratch. So I think the inner layer is black. Am I correct?

    Thanks for the blog. I will be browsing here for a while. :)

  2. Corning Ware is made of solid glass ceramic, and contains no metal. There are things that can damage the surface though.

    Usually, grey marks are caused by metal utensils leaving deposits on the glass body. Corning Ware is so tough that it actually wears down the metal... These deposits can usually be removed with Barkeeper's Friend.

    If the piece is actually scratched, it could be carbonized oil filling the gab.

    I have not had good experience trying to remove carbonized oil from deep scratches.

  3. Great information. I recently discovered in my attic 4 pieces with the original product information and recipe cards, gold trivets, glass lids. They're all embossed: CORNING PYROGRAM TM MADE IN USA. The models are B-33, C-19, C-3 and B-4. None ever appear to have been used. I would never get rid of them but am curious as to their worth.

    1. Check the "sold" listings on eBay, though those model numbers are actually glass mold numbers on the 1st generation pieces and really don't mean anything... Model numbers did not start being used until 1961 and started with P or W (in the case of the wheat pattern). Such a fortuitous attic find. Congratulations!

  4. What is the significance of the dots in the markings. I have a P-10-B with a dot above the B. I have seen many listings on eBay with a dot below the P, and one above the 10 coming for quite a bit of money. Do you know what the significance of the dots means?

  5. No, they actually don't mean anything.. just different molds in the production line.

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  7. Hello - I have a 7 inch skillet, with the so-called "fin" lid. I see the one you have in the pics says "A-19". Mine says "A-29". Is it maybe newer than the A-19? Thanks, Dean.


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