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story.lead_photo.caption It may be hard to believe, but Corning Ware is becoming collectible. (Handout/TNS)

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: I live in Georgia and have a Corningware set of three dishes with their original tops and I think they are vintage. Will you let me know what you think they are worth? They have never been used and are still in their original box.

Thank you,

— T.M.

DEAR T.M.: We suppose "vintage" is one of the new buzzwords. Interest in many kinds of antiques has dropped, but relatively large numbers of collectors out there are interested in items that are nostalgic but not yet old enough to be "antique."

These items are often termed "vintage," and many of them may be valuable at the moment and in the near future. But be careful. The price of vintage items can be very transient — high one day and non-existent the next. It all depends on the sustainability of collector interest. And this can be a tricky area.

In recent times, we have noticed an increasing interest in Corningware. There are reports that a set of Corningware was discovered in a thrift store and subsequently sold for $7,000. We also see several accounts of rare sets in uncommon patterns that sell for $1,000 or more. But these are the early days of Corningware collecting, and we do not feel the prices are set in concrete just yet. Now is absolutely the time to start learning about the subject and start collecting if the product speaks to you.

Corningware is a combination of glass and ceramic called "Pyroceram," which was accidentally discovered at Corning in 1953 by Dr. S. Donald Stookey. He was working with photosensitive glass and placed it in an oven to heat it to 600 degrees. But when he checked on it, the oven was at 900 degrees.

Stookey took the piece of glass out with tongs but dropped it. It reportedly hit the floor and bounced unbroken, and from that Pyroceram was born. It was introduced to the public in 1958 with the first pattern being "Blue Cornflower" (still the most popular pattern for collectors).

The pattern of the pieces belonging to T.M. is Floral Bouquet, but that came in three varieties. The first was a limited edition giftware pattern introduced in 1969; the second was produced from 1970 to 1971 and has a rich background color; the third, made from 1971 to 1974, was more stylized and had a white background. T.M.'s pieces are from the third edition and are "P" series.

This MIB (mint in box) set of Corningware Floral Bouquet is monetarily valuable, and we have had estimates in the $800 to $1,000 range. But we feel it is too soon to know the value of the set for sure because an MIB grouping such as this one has not sold within a recent time frame. Therefore we suggest T.M. treasure her set, protect it — do not clean it in a dishwasher — and check the market from time to time. The market does appear to be on a dramatic upswing at the moment, but the trend on these "vintage" items could reverse itself quickly.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have several books on antiques. Do you have an item you'd like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at treasures@knology.net. If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a focused, high-resolution photo of the subject with your inquiry.

Style on 03/21/2020

Print Headline: Treasure Hunt

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