A Dash of Holiday Bakeware History

The holidays are a time for baking. At holiday time, most of us get reacquainted with our baking dishes, spatulas, and mixing bowls. These kitchen mainstays say a great deal about our history, our technological advancements, and our culture.

Since I burn a good number of my attempts at baking, I gravitate toward non-stick and Pyrex products for my baking dishes.  From oven to refrigerator, Pyrex baking dishes demonstrate a triumph in technological advancement. Originally developed in the early 1900s, Pyrex glassware derived from the work of Corning Glass Works scientists who tried to come up with a heat resistant glass that could be used for railroad lanterns. This glass needed to resist breakage when the hot glass came in contact with cold rain, ice, or snow. Called Fire Glass (that name says it all for a less than perfect baker like me), the new glassware product of the 20th Century remained unchanged in temperature fluctuations.

Years later, the consumer line of Pyrex products was born. Glassware for cooking seemed an unusual concept to the American public. Yet, by 1915, major department stores were selling glass baking dishes. Some of Pyrex’s attributes that attracted new costumers included durability, even cooking, and easy cleaning. As earthenware ceramic, porcelain, or enamel had been favorites, Pyrex demonstrated a new choice for bakers. Pyrex absorbed an oven’s heat waves making cooking time shorter saving time and energy. By the Great Depression, more than 25 million pieces of the state of the art glass cookware were part of America’s kitchens.

Today, many of us have been handed down our mother’s and grandmother’s Pyrex wares. From glass loaf dishes to simple clear Pyrex glass pieces that would bake a family’s favorite casserole, Pyrex is a piece of Americana and reflects American ingenuity. Pyrex pieces that date from the early decades of the 1900s remain desirable on the secondary vintage collectibles market. For instance, a Pyrex flame ware percolator, the kind your grandmother used to use and a far cry from your contemporary pod coffee maker, sells on the secondary market for $75. Vintage square-format casserole baking dishes made of Pyrex in colors of the rainbow regularly command $10 to $100 depending on style and size. Because of their innovative material and durability, vintage Pyrex pieces are typically found in good condition on the resale market.

Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. To learn more about your antiques, visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori or call (888) 431-1010.

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