Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warm Up Your Retro Kitchen With Red, Yellow and Green Vintage Kitchenwares

Retro Homemakers
One way to become a "Retro Homemaker" is to equp your kitchen with some of the practical housewares that gals were accustomed to in the 1940s, and 1950s. I'm speaking about such items as tin canister sets, bread boxes, trays, flour sifters, cake savers, dust pans, pails and other handy Dimestore kitchenwares.

The Most Popular Colors for Kitchen Collectibles are Red,Yellow,Green
You can find plenty of original colorful era housewares for sale in antique shops, flea markets, on-line auction sites and thrift shops. Red, yellow, white, green kitchen collectibles are by far the most popular sellers. Often the "green" color used was a dark "Jade" hue. While Royal blue was also a popular color during the Post war years, you will find that kitchen tables, Formica counters, cabinets and other furnishing were predominately red, yellow and white.

Dimestore Housewares
"Housewives" of previous generations could order kitchenwares from their favorite mail order catalog or stroll down to their nearby "Five and Dime" and purchase tinware sets in a variety of patterns, colors and designs.The most common patterns are flowers, fruits, Bonnet girls and checkered. Decorating one's kitchen with coordinated shelving paper, towels, appliance covers and housewares was promoted in home magazines .
Reading older copies of Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and McCall's Magazine is a helpful way to see what the color schemes were and also what kitchen products were available. This can help you date and decorate you kitchen accordingly.

Who Made Metal Housewares?
As stated in a previous blog about cake savers, Harper J Ransburg of Indianapolis, was a manufacturer known to hand paint designs on their wares. I feature some lovely Ransbug sets in my book, "Hot Kitchen and Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s. While Ransburg featured hand painted designs on baked enamel, other companies mass produced metal wares with colorful patterns and images using decals or lithographed printing processes on metal. Manufacturers often sold both kitchen and bath metal sets. Look for names such as Decoware, Lincoln, Parmeco Parker, GSW, Kromex and Westbend.

The Postwar Kitchen.
Once bitten by the collecting bug, kitchenware collectors are loyal followers who adore building complete sets. For example, a determined collector will hunt for a fourth canister to complete a set of three canister or a matching tray, cake safe or bread box. Canister sets generally come in a set of four pieces of graduated sizes. A separate larger tin was sold for flour (flour bin). Usually, a set of four storage tins will fit easily one into the next. When you have the "wrong' pieces" you will find that you the "fit" is off. Matching trays were made as rectangles or circular. Photo shows canisters from Decoware "Apple collection".

Be patient....there are plenty kitchen collectibles out there. Once 29 cent items, metal kitchenwares go for $25.00-45.00 for a complete set of common canisters and about the same for a bread box in terrific condition. Check for inside rusting and exterior scratches and dents.

Photo of green tray, courtesy of Pam from

For Further Reading:

Hot Kitchen and Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s by C. Dianne Zweig
Depression Era Dime Store by C.L Miller
Kitchen Treasures by Barbara Mauzy

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.

To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link:
C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff

Email me at

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Dianne is a member of:
The American Society of Journalists and Authors
The Authors Guild, Inc.

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