Many collectors appreciate the value and practicality of vintage Corningware. Not only is it fun to display, it can be used in the oven, freezer, refrigerator, or the microwave.
A Little Background
Corningware began manufacturing in 1958 in Corning, New York. It was a breakthrough for post war homemakers because it could be taken from freezer to refrigerator to oven to table. The versatility of being able to utilize one dish appealed to an era of women who were increasingly streamlining their lives.
Vintage Corningware designs are still very affordable. They are readily available at thrift stores, garage sales and online very inexpensively. You can find some pieces for as little as 50 cents and very few will cost over 10 dollars.
It can be confusing to identify the exact era an item was made because Corning has manufactured certain popular designs over a long period of time.
Vintage Corningware Patterns
Although Corningware is still in production, the term "vintage Corningware" refers to items that were made prior to 1999.
The first design released, as well as the one produced in the most quantity, was the Cornflower Blue pattern. This simple decoration featured three blue flowers on a simple white background and became the trademark pattern for over thirty years. The handles were quite small and the earliest pieces had sloped sides. After 1972 the sides became straighter and the handles became larger.
Spice O' Life
This pattern is the second most produced design. It was produced from 1972 through 1987 and featured the earth tones that were so popular in the 1970s. Spice O' Life was a band of vegetables that included mushrooms, artichokes and garlic. L'Echalote (the shallot) was written in script under the vegetables on some pieces. This pattern was also known as "French Spice" because of this.
French white was released in 1978. The United States was in the midst of an infatuation with French cooking and Corningware filled a need for oven to table ease. The French white is a classic, timeless design.
The French White should not be confused with an earlier release, All White (Just White) which was manufactured from 1965 to 1968. French White is a softer white and has a more modern look.
Orange poppies showed up in 1978. The orange was accented with yellow, blue, and green and this pattern was manufactured until 1984. This design was more intricate that former Corningware designs.
Vintage Corningware designs also include:
- Country Festival - 1975, consisted of two bluebirds with a tulip. This was a popular folk art design.
- Daisy - a swag of daisies is featured in this design.
- Friendship-1975, a Pennsylvania Dutch pattern of two birds facing each other with a tulip in between.
- Summer Blush, a later pattern made up of three pansies.
- Starburst Pattern - 1959 to 1963, this pattern came in blue or black and looked like snowflakes or starbursts.
Corningware Trivia and Tips
- Corningware coffee percolators of any vintage are somewhat rare. They were recalled during the late 1970s and few are still in existence in their entirety. You will probably not be able to list one on eBay because they are not supposed to be sold intact because of the recall.
- Corning no longer makes Corningware. It was purchased by another company. The stove to freezer to oven to table Corningware is no longer manufactured at all. It was replaced by a lighter material that is not safe for the stove top.
- 425F is the top recommended temperature for vintage Corningware when used in the oven.
- Do not wash in the dishwasher or use dish soap with lemon. It will fade the design and ruin the finish.
- If you find a great teapot you can clean it thoroughly using this Corningware tutorial.
- Corning makes a cleaner for Corningware that is safe to use. Baking soda mixed with water is another option. Just rub on gently and rinse thoroughly for sparkling Corningware.
- Some people swear by denture cleaner. Cover the dish with warm water and drop in two or three denture cleaning tablets.
- If it has gray streaks it means that the finish is wearing off. There is nothing that can be done for that.
- Some collections included canister sets.
Is It Safe for the Microwave?
Since the old Corningware was made before the microwave is it safe to cook with in a microwave? The answer to that is yes...and no. Corningware is safe to use in the microwave as long as it doesn't have metal parts attached. The Corning company also manufactured certain products that are not safe to use in the microwave. Among them are:
- Any design which has gold leaf, silver leaf or platinum on it.
- Solid glass lids with screw on knobs
- Centura, a dinnerware that preceded Corelle
- Any Corningware that has obvious flaws, cracks, or air bubbles
You can read more about identifying which items should not be used in the microwave at Corelle Corner.
Testing for Microwave
If you are still not sure you can try this test:
- Fill a microwave-safe cup or measuring cup with water.
- Put it in the microwave with the dish you are testing. Do not allow them to touch.
- Heat on high for one minute.
- If the empty dish is warm or hot do not use it in the microwave in the future.
Vintage Corningware has been beloved by the American family for decades. The pieces were so well made that they have lasted in continuous use for fifty years or more. Since these items are affordable they are a wonderful way to outfit a vintage kitchen.There are many price guides that are specific to Corning, Pyrex, and other glassware. These can help the novice collector find both the pattern and the value of nearly any piece.