Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vintage Enamelware

Enamelware was created in the 1870s and was made until the 1930s. It was first available in catalogs and dry goods stores. Enamelware was available in variety of patterns and colors. It gained popularity because it was lightweight, sturdy, and easy to clean. Many different pieces were available, from ladles to pie tins.

A lot of enamelware was destroyed during World War II’s scrap metal drives. That has led to an increased value for the remaining pieces. Smaller pieces, such as pie tins or funnels, tend to sell for about $5 to $10. Larger pieces, such as mixing bowls or teapots, range from $30 to $300 dollars. The most expensive pieces are those that are in a rare color or pattern (like the red, purple, or cobalt blue swirl).

In 1960, Enamelware began to be manufactured again in the US. It is still produced today and is made around the world. You can tell if a piece is truly an antique by looking for a maker’s name or manufacturing date on the bottom. Old pieces also have wooden knobs (instead of the plastic knobs that are on new pieces) and the spouts and handles are riveted. New pieces have a smoother finish as well.

To clean old enamelware, start with a soft cloth and hot soapy water. You shouldn’t use steel wool or anything sharp because you can scratch the finish. If soap and water isn’t enough, use oven cleaner (the spray kind) to remove the dirt. Make sure to cover the handles and any tin lids before using it.

If the inside of a pot has lime or mineral stains, boiling potatoes or one teaspoon of baking soda can help remove them. If the stain is particularly stubborn, soak 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar overnight. Remaining stains can be soaked in water and chlorine bleach. It’s always a good idea to wash the piece with soap and water after you’ve removed the stains. This will remove harsh residues left by the cleaner.

Washing enamelware by hand is best for routine cleaning. A dishwasher should only be used if the pieces can be kept apart - you don’t want them to get banged up. Because water can lead to corrosion, make sure to dry the enamelware completely after it’s washed.

If your enamelware has rust spots, apply naval jelly to it for 10 minutes. Then apply cooking oil to help prevent additional rust. If you’ll only be using your enamelware for display purposes, you can coat it with spray wax or clear lacquer. Always be sure that any enamelware used for food is unchipped - bacteria can grow in damaged spots. 

Vintage kitchen items are great sellers on eBay. Click here for a free list of vintage items you can find at thrift stores and garage sales and sell on eBay for profit.
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