Somehow this week I came into the possession of not one but two sets of Pyrex Flameware. Although I see Flameware items (typically small percolators) regularly at second-hand stores, I’ve never bought any. Neither of us drink coffee, and I am increasingly reluctant to give up any more cupboard space to objects that don’t see regular use.
I do need a good double boiler, however, and when I spotted the one shown here (at rear) in excellent condition at the local Goodwill for $7.07, I grabbed it.
Coincidentally, a couple of days later at Value Village, I saw the six-cup coffee percolator shown at front. It’s in absolutely new condition, down to the late sixties / early seventies-era instruction pamphlet sitting at the bottom of the carafe, and clearly has never been used. I paid $7.99 for it, and am looking forward to experimenting with it the next time we have coffee-drinking house-guests. The interior workings consist of laboratory-style glass fittings, including one tall tube-like object which (according to the instructions) draws boiling water through itself to spill over the grounds. It’s positively artisanal!
Also shown are three Federal glass nesting mixing bowls in a polka-dot pattern, which I bought at the Junction Flea last Sunday for a fantastic price. The vendor, who told me he usually operates out of the Sunday Antique Market at St. Lawrence Hall (and whose amazing-sounding home is reportedly featured regularly on television shows requiring mid-century sets), had a lovely array of vintage glassware dating from the forties onward, including plenty of Jadeite (priced high, but no more so than Jadeite easily commands), some Fire King (at moderate prices) and these inexpensive Federal bowls. Perhaps Federal glass doesn’t command the premium of its milk glass contemporaries, but I was very happy to snap up these bowls, which have been on my mental wish list for months! I also bought the green-flowered Anchor Hocking mugs from him.
I’ve been a regular attendee at the monthly Junction Flea since its inception a year ago and, while I love the concept, have been a bit disappointed with its implementation. I understood the organizers charging a $5 cover while the Flea relocated to the Great Hall during the winter months, but (a) the quality and quantity of offerings diminished considerably over the winter (meaning I stopped going after two fruitless visits, and won’t return this winter unless there’s clear evidence of a decent vendor line-up — and that vendors are committed to bringing decent stuff to sell), and (b) charging $2 for flea-goers to enter the unpaved parking lot where the Flea is held during the warmer months is a bit rich. Flea organizers — and vendors — should take note that it has become the policy of more than a few of us Flea-goers to ‘bargain back’ the cover charge on any item we buy (in addition to usual haggling), making the cover charge a losing proposition for vendors at the very least.
My other criticism of the Flea is that while it is well curated in the sense of having a great variety of vintage offerings, too many of its vendors frequent the same thrift stores and local estate sales its attendees do, meaning we’ve seen them (and the objects they ‘pick’ for resale) and know when and where they bought their stock — and how much they paid for it. Because many of us are collectors, we also know what the ‘going rate’ is for similar wares. That’s why, for example, when the vendor staffing one of the booths told me the Spring Blossom 441 I was holding cost a patently ridiculous $15, I put it down and left.
I’m not trying to knock the Flea — it”s a great concept and an ideal Junction attraction — but if it is to succeed and grow, it needs either to ‘up’ its game (perhaps by attracting a better balance between the ‘professional’ dealers (who know their stuff and what the market will bear) and fewer amateurs who simply haunt the local Goodwill on sale days or hang out at Value Village waiting for carts to be wheeled out of the processing area) or run more realistically as the glorified garage sale it is. Either approach is fine with me — but the Flea’s organizers are going to need to choose, and some vendors will clearly need to reconsider their pricing strategies. Despite the massive popularity of Pyrex at the moment, I noted that the booth offering easy-to-find 441s at $15 didn’t seem to be moving much inventory.
Also shown in the photo above is an unmarked Pyrex-like mug in a delicious orange (which cost either 69 or 99 cents), and two Butterprint refrigerator dishes, which I bought at Value Village for $2.99 for the pair. No lids. I’m not a fan of ‘fridgie’ dishes — the absence of lids providing mute testimony to their principal vulnerability — but do pick them up when I see them in good condition. They are a handy shape for storing little things (after Hallowe’en we stored a dozen or more tiny chocolate bars in one, dolling them out to our little daughter on a daily basis), and I suppose I could see storing portion-sized leftovers in them. Beside the ‘fridgies’ is a green plastic butter dish with clear lid ($1.99 at Value Village, and I left an identical but slightly damaged one behind). I love the colour and shape. It’s marked “Geni.”
And also: this lovely vintage toy ironing board in turquoise. It’s marked Mercury, is made entirely of metal, and has inscribed on it (in English and French) the following rhyme: ”This is the way I iron and play / Mommy’s helper every day.” There’s a bear housewife (ironing, of course) at the narrow end. It’s in nearly new condition, with only a very faint suggestion of rust at one end. I have no idea how old it is — the multilingual rhyme, particularly in Canada, suggesting more recent vintage — but the style and materials seem clearly dated. If a reader knows more about this board, I’d love to learn. This board (which I just love, and will use either as a side table or decoration — my child is no more into ironing than I am, and in any event the folding legs seem a pinching hazard to little fingers) cost $2.99 at Value Village.
Finally, shown in the image at the top is a book by Sibella Court called The Life of a Bowerbird: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Collect (Harper Collins, 2012). An odd thing to show up at the local Goodwill so soon after being published (it’s a large-format coffee table book), but I was happy to pay less than $2 (half-priced) for it. The book begins by invoking the eponymous bowerbird, an Australian bird that ‘collects’ and hoards objects that it designs into its nest. The book is beautifully photographed and eclectic in content — the collections it ‘curates’ range from taxidermy specimens to pencils to beakers, ropes and doll parts. There is relatively little text, which is a pity, but it’s a fascinating book nonetheless, and less an interior design manual than a fetish object all on its own.
That’s (mostly) it for the past week or two. I don’t go on dedicated thrift missions much these days, although I do stop in whenever I happen to pass one while out running errands or biking to the university. [Speaking of which, I'm one of four Toronto-area cyclists featured this weekend in a Globe & Mail article on urban cycling. Accompanying the article online is this photo essay.]
[Connecting with Sir-Thrift-a-Lot's Thriftausaurus linkup.]