Giving your kitchen a country charm
  • A lovely Hoosier kitchen cabinet
  • Kitchen appliances in plastic
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    Auction Finds

    Stocking an imaginary kitchen

    It was a complete set of Pfaltzgraff gray dinnerware that struck me with the idea. I was standing there at the auction, listening as the auctioneer desperately tried to sell the dishes for $5.

    No one was interested in the set, which looked to be a service for eight in very good condition. I have to admit that I ignored it, too. How often do you need new dinnerware?

    Two buyers asked about the serving dishes. They were interested in buying individual pieces, but not the whole thing. The auctioneer sold three pieces for $5 each (the minimum bid at this auction house is normally $5).

    The auctioneer wouldn’t give up. She came back at us again. This is good dinnerware. Pfaltzgraff. Sells in the store for much more than this. If you break a plate, it doesn’t matter. It didn’t cost you much.

    This was the Yorktowne stoneware pattern with the blue flower design in the center. It’s one of the easily recognizable classic patterns, although I’m not sure how old this set was. Yorktowne is also one of the company’s collectible patterns (here’s one collector’s site). On the company’s website, one dinner plate was selling for $10. A service for eight was on sale for $160. At replacements.com, a dinner plate was selling for $12 each.

    The auctioneer finally gave up and moved on to the next item on the table. As I watched her try to coax us into buying, I recalled that this wasn’t the first time I’d watched this play out. It had become very common for kitchen essentials like dishes, cookware and glassware to go for little or nothing at two of my favorite auction houses. These items usually end up here after a house clean-out when a family needs to get rid of excess items. Most of the china is in pristine condition, some still in those plastic storage coverings, likely brought out only for special occasions.

    As I’d watched auctioneers plead with buyers, I began thinking about the many women trying to re-establish themselves who could use these kitchen items. The woman who has escaped an abusive mate, who with the help of a social service agency has found a new home that she has to re-stock. Here at auction is a good place for her to start.

    So, I decided to comb the auction tables to see how I could set up her kitchen for little money. And here’s what I found:

    Dinnerware

     
    On this day, I found nearly 10 sets of dishes – some full sets, some not. Either of these sets would be lovely on a kitchen table (I wrote a post back in May about dining room sets that, too, were sold at reasonable prices.)

    The black Mikasa luncheon set in the photo above sold for $5. Set #5 sold for $5. The set of eight with the gold trim in the first photo in this post sold for $5.

    Pots and pans

    This cookware was on a table outside the auction house. I wasn’t around when it sold but I’m sure it went for less than $5, likely as part of a grouping of several boxes.

    Silverware

    The silverware in the cases attracted hefty bidding, and was too high for my budget. The silver-plated sold for $35 and the gold-plated for $20. The silverware in the box with the dark handles sold for $40. I overheard a woman admiring the pieces (which were pretty sturdy), and she apparently was not the only one who wanted them. Usually silverware tossed in a box sells for around $5, like the ones at the bottom in the photo.

    Pitcher and mugs

    Don’t you just love the opaque white pitcher and glasses with the purple grapes? I thought these were just gorgeous, with their 1950s feel. What a great way to enjoy iced tea or lemonade. They sold for $5. And the four mugs with the lime-green interior? Starbucks, still new. My auction buddy Janet bought these as part of a $5 lot. I thought the vintage cookie jar would be a nice touch in the kitchen.

    Glassware

    These vintage circus glasses would be popular with kids because they are so colorful and fun. They sold for $20, too high for my budget. I could’ve gotten the gold-leaf glasses, though, for $5 or less because they did not sell. The wine and desert glasses, and the canister set sold as a lot for $10.

    Microwave and toaster oven

    The microwave at right is Sharp, forgot to check the toaster/convection oven (left), but it still had its paperwork. Both of these items, including the box in the center with a toaster oven and iron, were among the box lots outside the auction house. Again, I wasn’t there when they sold, but they were likely dumped into a lot with other boxes for less than $10.

    Conclusion

    If I had been buying, I could’ve stocked the kitchen for less than $50 with items that are in good shape, would need cleaning to start afresh, and could last another 10 years or so. Auctions are a good way to stretch your dwindling dollars.

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