Cash in the Casseroles: Your Vintage Pyrex Could Be Worth Big Bucks

published Jul 28, 2017
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(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Time to cash in those vintage casseroles, Pyrex lovers: it turns out that the hoard of collectibles hiding in your hutch could actually be worth beaucoup bucks.

As NPR reports this week, some pieces of vintage Pyrex glassware are now selling for as much as $3,000 per piece. Whether festooned with mid-century transfer patterns and bright colors or just full of Proustian, retro charm and childhood memories, the 100-year-old glassware maker has been an American household staple for several generations — and has now officially reached heirloom status.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Since 1915, Corning Glass Works in upstate New York has been churning out one-pot glassware adored by home chefs for its ability to be used to mix, bake, and serve food all in the same dish. By 1919, 4 million pieces of Pyrex had been sold to customers throughout the United States. And now those pieces are being bought, sold, and cherished by third and fourth generation Americans with a passion for Pyrex. There’s even an entire blog dedicated to it.

Though the kitschy, nostalgic beauty of vintage Pyrex is undeniable, it’s not all that practical: it’s not safe in the dishwasher, it’s heavy, and it’s expensive compared to more modern bakeware options. But, lo and behold, Country Living still found a 1950s set selling for $1,850 on Etsy, one from 1960 for $700 on eBay — even a rare vintage Pyrex bowl mold is going for $1,000.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Perhaps the real secret to Pyrex’s success and longevity is that, from the very start, it was designed and tweaked by the actual consumer who would be using it every day. Despite the fact that 85 percent of all purchases — a total of approximately $7 trillion annually, or more than half of the American GDP — are made by women, men still dominate the leadership, branding and product development decisions at most consumer brands, even in 2017. This fundamental disconnect has dogged many would-be great products over the decades. But, not at Pyrex!

“From the very beginning, Pyrex was a product for women designed by women. Though a male Corning scientist developed the technology for a glass that could withstand quick changes in temperature, it was his wife Bessie Littleton who suggested it be applied to kitchenware. She baked a sponge cake in a sawed-off jar to prove her point.”

Read more about the fascinating history of female leadership at Pyrex — and its legion of obsessive, Instagramming collectors — in the coverage from NPR and Country Living this week.