Everyone knows the stories about their grandmother's or great-grandmother's china that's been passed down for generations or brought in from far-off locations, but your parents' newer stuff might be worth a pretty penny, too. Dishes from only a few decades ago are getting some serious social media attention as more and more people are discovering the wonders of thrifting. So, you should check your parents' or (even your own) cabinets to see if any of these valuable vintage dishes worth a lot of money are in the cupboards.
Spice of Life CorningWare Dishes
If you've ever watched a movie set between the 1950s and 1980s where someone pulls a casserole dish out of the oven, then you've seen CorningWare. First created in 1958, this pyroceram product was all the rage in the mid-20th century, and it's making a comeback. There were multiple patterns over the years, but one of the rarest ones to find today is the Spice of Life.
Spice of Life featured a series of harvested vegetables, like tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers, spread out in a horizontal line against the white ceramic background. This pattern came out in 1970 and sold like wildfire. Yet, pieces today frequently sell for hundreds of dollars.
Although you can find individual dishes listed for $10,000-$20,000, a more realistic price for these dishes is about $15-$50 apiece, depending on the buyer. The ones you really want to look for are the 'L'echalote' dishes that feature French names underneath each of the patterns. One three-piece set recently sold for $14,999.
Turquoise Diamond Pattern Pyrex Dishes
When it comes to vintage dishes, it doesn't get rarer than Pyrex's own Turquoise Diamond Pattern. You won't find any Pyrex branding on these dishes, though, because the company made them for Dainty Maid - a glass and home goods seller. Dainty Maid sold these dishes between 1953-1960, and they're incredibly hard to find in the wild.
The pattern itself features a repeating number of multi-sized turquoise diamonds along a white background. You can find individual pieces with this pattern selling for $100-$150, with larger sets selling for hundreds. For example, this juice carafe is listed for $160 on eBay.
1950s Blue Cornflower Pattern CorningWare Dishes
CorningWare debuted in 1958 with the iconic white pyroceram dish style and a quaint little blue cornflower pattern in the center. This dish is synonymous with mid-century life, and was the most popular pattern they ever made. Yet, a 1970s redesign made the earliest examples of the original pattern relatively rare.
So, these late-50s dishes can be worth quite a lot. You can find individual casserole dishes listed for around $1,000 with less useful dishes for modern cooking selling for $20-$50. With CorningWare, it's all about the casserole dish, and even with the most common patterns, they'll always fetch around $50-$100. But, the really rare ones can draw in thousand dollar buyers. Take this small casserole dish, for example. It sold for $2,500 on eBay.
Fiestaware Nesting Bowls
Homer Laughlin China Company created Fiestaware in 1936, and is well-known for dishes made in rich, saturated colors. These bright pieces were designed to boost morale during the Great Depression, and they're still popular today. You can find modern versions of Fiestaware in just about every home goods store around. Yet, the original stuff is what you should keep your eyes peeled for.
The most valuable Fiestaware piece right now is the nesting bowl. These dishes were economically designed, with seven increasingly larger bowls that could be stored inside one another. Nowadays, you can find these bowls listed for anywhere between $500-$1,000. For example, one set recently sold for $1,100 online.
Assorted Blue Ridge Southern Pottery Dishes
The Blue Ridge Southern Pottery company started in 1916, but didn't release its most popular pottery line until the 1930s. Incredibly, these pieces are beloved today not because of their simple designs or colorful paintwork, but because no two pieces are alike. They recruited women to work at the company and paint folk-art onto their dishes, making every piece uniquely special. The pottery company shut down in 1957, meaning these dishes were only made in a two-decade window.
It's this deep Appalachian connection that makes them not only rare, but significant, and collectors are willing to pay a high price to add one to their collection. One chocolate tray painted with a French peasant scene recently sold for $1,150 and this matching 10" bowl sold for $119. Today, these quaint dishes represent a beautiful cultural heritage that's still thriving.
Franciscan Starburst Pattern Dish Sets
California company Gladding-McBean's most popular dinnerware line was Franciscan. Their early designs were refined and simplistic, but by the 1940s, the company was taking inspiration from Southwestern and California culture and creating colorful, bright patterns. Desert Rose, released in 1941, was one of the most popular dish set in America at the time, but it's their 1954 Starburst counterpart that gets more interest today.
An atomic-age dinnerware if you ever saw one, this pattern is defined by a series of bright blue and green sunbursts stretched across a creamy, speckled background. Individually, these ceramic dishes aren't worth more than about $25-$80 a piece, but complete sets will fetch a pretty penny. For example, one 60-piece set sold on eBay for $1,288.87.
Russel Wright American Modern Tall Pitchers
In contrast to the translucent Depression glass that was so popular in the 1930s, American Modern was bold, earthy, and unusual. People had seen nothing like Steubenville Pottery Company's modern art-inspired sloping designs in the late-1930. One of the standouts was the tall pitcher. It came in a number of bold colors and has gone on to become quite a collector's item.
Although they're not particularly rare, the originals are worth a good bit of money. They can range from anywhere around $100-$250, depending on how old it is and who's interested in buying. For example, one seafoam pitcher sold for $99.99. Unfortunately, the price isn't too far off the new manufacturer's contemporary versions of the pitcher (which are currently selling for $125 a pop) so it takes finding the right person to get your money's worth on your vintage pitchers.
Grandma's Dishes Could Be Worth Hundreds
When we think about collectibles, our minds hardly ever turn to commonplace items like dishes, but there's a real hidden value in these domestic products. From casserole dishes to nesting bowls, these vintage dishes haven't been made for decades, but they've been passed down for generations. Look through grandma's cabinet and see just what pieces she's got shoved in there. You might be surprised at just what you find.