Sunday, 8 June 2008

What's Hot and What's Not in Kitchen Collectibles

Kitschy kitchens decorated with vintage kitchen-wares and furnishing from the colorful eras of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and beyond are captivating not only baby boomers who remember many of these items sitting in grandma's kitchen but younger collectors as well. Whether you prefer the bold primary colors of the post war years, the softer cottage palettes of the mid to late fifties, or the earth tones of the seventies , there are plenty of affordable kitchen collectibles and textiles to choose.

Among bona fide kitchen and home d├ęcor enthusiasts, there are definite differences in their collecting styles. A buyer may not only be drawn to shapes, color, or patterns of a certain time period, but also may favor kitchen-wares, figurines, planters textiles, advertising, etc. associated with a loved one or cherished time in his or her life. For example, one collector began accumulating kitchen items after her grandma died. She collected kitchen-wares which reminded her of her grandmother's r red and yellow kitchen in Brooklyn, New York in the late 1940s and early 1950s

Kitchen gadgets, appliances, ceramics, bowls, tins, canisters, textiles in colors of red, yellow, green or blue are by far the most popular colors sought after by collectors. Next you will find a smaller group of buyers, predominately found in areas closer to large metropolitan centers, seeking items in the mid-century colors of pink and turquoise. While the funkier colors of the atomic age just mentioned,
attract a small but loyal group, this time period was also known for home accessories produced in softer pastel colors, a palette very popular today among cottage style collectors. Last are the younger
collectors who become as sentimental over greens, rusts and browns of the seventies as I do over the reds and yellows of the forties and fifties. If you are a collectibles dealer, Keep this in mind the next time you pass up a drab green bowl at a flea market... the population that will adore that "muddy green bowl" are quickly becoming today's collectors.

While the colorful eras attract attention, there don't seem to nearly as many people jumping on the band wagon to buy orange and pink flowered kitchen canisters and other kitchen relics from the Hippie generation. Yes you will see these kitchen items on eBay and other on-line auctions, but they are not really popular in most shops and antique malls. If you are really into the "Shaggy Sixties" take a visit to thrift shops such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries, where you may have some luck bumping into a few of these "flower power" leftovers.

As you can imagine, color is a big factor for kitchen collectors, but so is unusual style. Today there is a renewed interest in collectibles of the Art Deco period so keep your eyes open for appliances, accessories and furnishings that have characteristic deco design . Even paper collectibles such as recipe booklets with deco motif are of interest to collectors. While the pricier pottery associated with the Arts & Crafts movement isn't generally thought of as a "kitchen collectible", styles from this time period are making their way into today's kitchen . There is indeed a new generation of " art inspired kitchen collectibles" for the collector with a big budget.

But what about everyday kitchen collectibles, what is hot and what is not among the average collector? What I find most amazing in answering this question is how differently the answer is depending on who you ask. If you do an on-line search about this topic you will find "popularity" defined by how often a particular collectible is either searched on the internet or sold on a specific auction site . Cookie jars are one of those collectibles which is consistently listed as a top ten kitchen collectible. Yet I have found that what is stated as "hot" on-line is not necessarily what is selling in brick and mortar shops.

Besides unique items, I also find that people like collectibles that they can use , which is why Pyrex sells so well. Pam Kaplan who owns said the pink "Gooseberry" pattern has been her best seller. I find that Pyrex in all colors does well. Vintage egg beaters and rolling pins are also popular housewares because these older models work better than the newer products. Tin canister sets and bread boxes that are colorful. in excellent condition and priced reasonably are always appreciated by kitchen collectors. On the other hand, if an object can't go into the dishwasher or microwave or is to hard to care for it is going to be a slower mover. This is why sets of older dishes sit so long on the shelves of many shops.

Renovation and salvage items (antique stoves, door knobs, architectural trim, windows) are very "in" right now as collectors and homeowners are mixing older looks with newer kitchens or creating new twists on old themes such as "Cottage Style" or "Country Victorian". "Country Victorian" also referred to as "Romantic Country" emphasizes the softer more feminine elements of the Victorian era and eliminates the heavy, darker components. I have seen customers asking for Victorian wash bowl sets not for their vanity areas to sit on a wash stand but for their kitchens tables or counters to create romantic accents. The pitcher alone or sitting in the wash basin is often used for a fresh or dried floral arrangement.

There has definitely been a trend to "re-purpose" collectibles and furnishings and to incorporate vintage style into contemporary homes. For example, a stylish painted Hoosier cabinet can add charm to a kitchen with the addition of a computer monitor sitting on the pull out baking surface, not batter bowls. A collection of white ironstone pitchers artfully arranged can add just the right touch to an urban chic kitchen condo. A 1940s bookcase painted white can be hung on the kitchen wall to hold your favorite collection. Are you catching on?

So if I have to try to answer the question what are people buying, I would say they are investing in items that are functional and decorative. Although it wasn't easy, I divided my list of what's hot and what not into three categories, (1 ) Hot Kitchen Collectibles To Keep an Eye On (2) Classic Favorites (3) What's Not Hot in Kitchen Collectibles (anymore).

Hot Kitchen Collectibles to Keep an Eye On

Chippy painted kitchen cottage tables, chairs and cupboards, open wall shelves

Art Deco "everything"

Advertising tins (coffee, tea, spices).

French and European enamelware, American enamelware with decorative flair

Vintage stoves and appliances

Very fine country items including Farm tables, crocks.

Pastel pottery vases, ironstone, art pottery.

China items including decorative plates

Funky items i.e. Bowls with Polka Dots

Classic Favorites

Cookie Jars.


Fire King


Fiestaware, Py, Holt Howard

Tea pots, bowls, spice jars, range sets, salt & pepper shakers.

Colorful linens i.e. tablecloths, dish towels, aprons. whimsical pot holders

Bread boxes, canister sets, recipe boxes, match holders,

Tools with red or green handles, rolling pins.

What's Not Hot in Kitchen Collectibles (Anymore)

Picnic accessories

Thermal plastic beverage and ice cream cups

Hammered aluminum


Grey enamelware

Colonial style housewares

C. Dianne Zweig is a kitschy kitchen collector and the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s ( She has just completed her second book, Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes also by Her collectibles can be found at the Plantsville General Store Antique Center in Plantsville, CT. For further information write to her at

Article Source: