Recent trips to several flea markets and consignment shops have given me pause to ponder my love of vintage kitchenware. Swooping down like a magpie, I can’t seem to resist the mid-century modern designs and patterns that conjure up all kinds of nostalgia for me: memories of my grandmother mixing cake batter in her big Pyrex bowls, or her huge cast-iron pots on the stove coated in enamel in shades of avocado and popsicle-orange. It seems I’m not alone, either. Numerous friends of mine in the 30-something demographic are obsessed with these design icons of the past, snapping them up where and when we can for use in our own kitchens. I’ve selected five of my favourite vintage kitchenware brands and styles and have gathered some interesting information about their origins for this month's Domestic Insight column. What are some of your favourites?PYREX: Pyrex glassware was introduced to the American public in 1915 by Corning Glass Works. Today, there are three types of collectible Pyrex: Clear Pyrex Ovenware (introduced in 1915), Pyrex Flameware (1936 – 1979) and Pyrex Colors, which began production in 1947. Of these three types, most people are familiar with the Pyrex Colors collection because of its distinctive hues and folky patterns. Pyrex is still manufacturing modern cooking products but the vintage pieces are also relatively easy to find, due in large part to its enormous popularity. Its widespread availability, affordability, durability and the variations in its attractive designs made it a universally appealing. Chances are good that your mother, grandmother or aunt may have a few vintage examples in their kitchens! Examples of vintage Pyrex are easy to find at flea markets and antiques shops, and through online auction sites, such as Ebay.CATHRINEHOLM: Cathrineholm was an ironworks, located near the town of Halden in Norway, which started production in 1907. Originally the ironworks manufactured wrought iron products and agricultural equipment, but due to changing economic circumstances it later evolved into producing enamel kitchenware. The company closed in 1970. Cathrineholm enamelware can be difficult to find and most people build up their collection by buying on Ebay. Even on Ebay, there can sometimes only be a handful of items up for sale at any one time. A useful tip when searching for Cathrineholm on Ebay is to be aware that a huge number of people spell it incorrectly - so make sure that you also search for Cathrineholme, Cathrinehome, Catherineholm, Catherineholme, Catherinehome, Catherine holm, Catherine holme, Catherine home etc! The vibrant colors and charming printed patterns on Cathrineholme pieces are what make it so collectible today. They are strikingly modern.DANSK KOBENSTYLE: Dansk Kobenstyle Enamelware was originally manufactured by the Danish company Glud & Marstrand, but by 1966 had been sold to a French manufacturer. The cookware is most often compared to the French cookware brand Le Creuset, although it is lighter and more modern. The most sought-after examples are of Danish origin, exhibiting Dansk's original "Four Ducks" logo. The initials "IHQ" are the mark of Designer Jens Quistgaard. Among its unique features are the specially-designed lids, with criss-cross handles that can be safely lifted by a spoon and that allow a collection of cookware to stack beautifully. Lovers of this style of cookware will be delighted to know that it is being manufactured again in three colours: red, white and blue enamel. It was sold exclusively at Crate & Barrel at first, but other retailers have begun to carry it. Anthropologie has recently added it to its home product line.JADEITE: Personally, I find it difficult to think of Jadeite without thinking of Martha Stewart. Martha was an early champion of this now very-collectible form of pressed glass kitchenware and a portion of her personal collection is shown above, photographed in the pantry at Skylands, her home in Maine. Jadeite was made mostly during the 1920s and '30s and was popularized by the Jeannette Glass company in the 1930s as inexpensive Depression Era glassware. The term Jadeite refers to the colour (a milky, minty green) not a particular brand. A number of glassware companies in the U.S. and abroad made items in varying colors of Jadeite during this time period. The types of Jadeite vary depending on the company that produced the item, and they are usually identified by company marks. Companies like McKee and Fire King made glassware in Jadeite and can be identified by their logos on the bottoms of the pieces. Many other companies, both from the U.S. and abroad, manufactured Jadeite and there are books available with more detail for collectors. Modern variations on Jadeite are currently made by several brands, including Martha Stewart, and are often hand-pressed using the original molds. For most collectors the color is the draw, although unique examples, such as hen-shaped casserole dishes, slender cake stands and unique salt-and-pepper shakers add to the allure.
RUSSELL WRIGHT: American industrial designer Russell Wright (1904 – 1976) was best known for his colorful ceramic and plastic dinnerware, manufactured between 1939 and 1959b y Steubenville Pottery in Steubenville, Ohio. Wright also designed furniture, spun aluminum dining accessories and textiles and is celebrated for his influential contributions to American-modern design. The simple, clean lines in his designs, saturated color palettes and sturdy practicality made his dinnerware highly sought-after by middle-class families eager to embrace the new, modern aesthetic. Even during the period of manufacture, his pieces were relatively costly compared to other brands, marketed to consumers who valued quality craftsmanship and design. Russell Wright collections are highly collectible today, due in part to the limited period of time his pieces were produced.