Vintage Pyrex Is Having a Moment — Here’s What You Need to Know About Scoring Your Own

published Jun 25, 2022
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Credit: Casey Barber

Before your Instagram feed was filled with a surplus of cool new cookware companies, there was Pyrex. Chances are, this is a name you’re already familiar with. Perhaps you grew up eating casseroles out of a classic Pyrex glass dish. Maybe you were given a set of Pyrex food storage containers when you moved into your first apartment or home. Or maybe, to this day, you regularly use a Pyrex glass measuring cup when whipping up your baked goods. You wouldn’t be the only one! The brand has inspired an army of loyal followers and collectors who love all things vintage.

See, Pyrex pieces are prized for style — style that was once at the peak of trendiness, but has since become beloved for its retro-kitsch qualities. “The colorful and quirky patterns you find on vintage Pyrex — they just don’t make stuff like this today,” notes Ingrid Cruz, an avid Pyrex collector. Memories have a lot to do with the appeal, too, she says. “The fact that many remember these from their childhood makes Pyrex a nostalgic item that brings people joy.” 

Credit: Casey Barber

So, What’s the Hype Around Pyrex?

First, a little background to get any Pyrex novices up to speed: Although this brand of glass cookware serves up decidedly ’50s and ’60s vibes, it has actually been around since 1915, when it was introduced by Corning Glass Works. (Fun fact: Corning Glass Works, which is located in the glass-blowing hot spot Corning, New York, still owns and operates Pyrex.) 

A few colorful Pyrex-themed items from Twinkltoast.

Why do people love it? Part of the brand’s success is owed to its durability and easy maintenance. At the time of its launch, cooks appreciated how efficient it was to clean. Much less scrubbing was required than with metal cookware. These days, eco-conscious cooks like that it’s more environmentally friendly than plastic.

“The quality is almost unreal. You can ask any Pyrex collector about experiences they’ve had dropping a bowl with no consequences — they’re just extremely well-made,” explains Cruz, curator of the vintage decor Etsy shop, Twinkltoast, which sells Pyrex-themed items, such as stickers, tea towels, and even wallets.

Pyrex now sells a tight and tidy collection of cookware and food storage solutions, but in the past it was a highly experimental brand. Over the decades, it launched a delightfully varied assortment of kitchenware, including baby bottles and coffee percolators. While these items can be a fun score, modern Pyrex collectors are obsessed with uncovering unique and hard-to-find patterns (more on that below!). 

Credit: Renata Katz
Vintage mid-century hutch with Pyrex collection

Getting Started with Your Pyrex Collection

Collecting vintage Pyrex has become somewhat of a sport these days, as many of Pyrex’s original patterns have been retired. While the brand occasionally brings back designs for limited runs, the best way to score classic pieces is to go vintage hunting — which can also bring great rewards. Reselling vintage Pyrex can be a lucrative endeavor, with sought-after pieces going for hundreds of dollars.

There are plenty of other reasons to collect, even if you don’t plan on becoming a top eBay seller. As Cruz explains, the majority of Pyrex collectors do it for the nostalgia: They grew up with Pyrex pieces and appreciate the reminder of home. Others love the retro style. But no matter what draws you to old-school Pyrex, there’s one hard-to-beat benefit to the game: These pieces are forever useful. Contrary to many vintage kitchen collectibles, Pyrex is meant to be used, cooked with, and loved. 

What to Look for as You Shop

If your goals in Pyrex hunting start and stop at having a sweet collection for your own use, you can let intuition guide your shopping choices. But if you’re hoping to buy items with resale value, it pays to be discerning. Even the most rare items lose value if they’re not in good condition. Visual cues can help you determine whether a Pyrex piece is of high value. Chips and cracks obviously get demerits. 

But there’s something else to look for, too: Signs of dishwasher damage, such as fading and loss of the glossy finish. Although current basic glass casserole dishes and food storage containers can handle the dishwasher, patterned Pyrex should only be washed by hand. (In fact, one of Cruz’s most popular Etsy items is a magnet printed with the gentle reminder, “No Pyrex in the Dishwasher.”)

Should you worry about fake Pyrex? It’s not a common issue, thanks to a hard-to-miss embossed stamp on the bottom of almost every Pyrex piece. The stamp design has changed over the years, which means you can also identify the era of your new favorite mixing bowl. Pyrex Collector has a handy, bookmarkable guide for the chronology of Pyrex stamps. 

Credit: Casey Barber

How to Find Vintage Pyrex Online

Many new Pyrex collectors begin on internet auction websites, like eBay. “eBay is great if you’re looking for a piece that’s hard to come by. I bought my new-in-the-box Starburst space saver and Pink Stems casserole there a year ago and definitely paid accordingly,” says Cruz.

But navigating auction websites can be tricky. For novice collectors, Cruz says smaller communities, like Mercari and Facebook Marketplace are safe bets. “Look for local collectors who are downsizing and try to avoid paying for shipping — it’s not worth it for less expensive items.”

Replacements, Ltd. is a niche vintage-finds site frequented by Pyrex collectors (and Fiestaware fans). And don’t discount Etsy: The website populated by individual sellers is full of passionate Pyrex people. Plus, it can’t hurt to keep a copy of Cruz’s whimsical reference guide to Pyrex patterns on your desk as you browse. 

Credit: Jimj0will/

How to Shop Thrift and Antique Stores

Like all types of in-person antique shopping, looking for vintage Pyrex at thrift and antique stores requires time and patience. Consistency is key in this endeavor: Visit your local resale store or favorite antique dealer weekly to check out new wares. Thrift stores can turn up all sorts of items, from the junky to the highly valuable. Ditto for garage sales and flea markets. Sourcing from a reputable antiques dealer means they’ve done the homework for you and have priced the item accordingly. 

No matter where you’re shopping, bringing a Pyrex reference book will help you determine what’s a good deal, a bad deal, and those special ones that are not-to-be-missed. Pyrex Passion is a trusted, recently-written guidebook recommended by collectors of all stripes. 

Ingrid Cruz with her collection.

What About Those Vintage Pyrex Patterns?

Are some patterns worth more than others? Absolutely. But Cruz encourages collectors to consider other factors when weighing a purchase. Rather than trend-seeking, or hunting for rarities, she suggests simply snapping up patterns and colors you’re attracted to. 

Cruz is a cheerleader for the Friendship collection as well as yellow Cathrineholm. “I love the yellow and orange combo, and the Friendship pattern is just adorable,” she says.

But don’t worry about making the wrong choice: The Pyrex you love is the Pyrex you should buy.

Are you a Pyrex collector? Tell us about your favorite piece in the comments below.