It’s been an exceptionally busy time for the Pixie recently, the business has been going from strength to strength, there’s been a lot of exciting Pyrex around, we’ve had contractors in (least said about that the better!) and with all this going on there were a couple of weeks when I didn’t have time to post. Then, when things eased up I discovered I’d acquired a nasty case of blog anxiety. For some reason, every time I tried to write, I started to worry that I had nothing interesting to report about the vintage Pyrex world. Then this evening, after chatting on social media with several of my Pyrex Pals, I realised that those of us with this particular obsession just really enjoy hearing about other people’s Pyrex experiences (that is when we’re not glued to a TV show starring homicidal muppets, just for the fun of playing spot the Butterprint!). So, I thought I’d bring you up to date with what’s been happening on the vintage Pyrex scene in my part of the world.
I’ve probably mentioned (several times!) before that, in my part of the UK at least, it’s very difficult to find vintage Pyrex “in the wild”. I’m always seeing on social media that American VP collectors have been to a garage sale and found 25 perfect pieces, which are quite rare and bought them for $5! That never happens to me and I’m really envious! So I source a lot of my pieces from vintage dealers and emporium’s – you might think that that would ensure that the sellers had some expert knowledge about what they’re selling but that isn’t always the case! There is one dealer near me who runs a very ‘chic’ establishment, who spent ten minutes telling me about one piece of “vintage Pyrex”, which was actually Federal milk glass! I was shopping with my dad, who had told the owner I was a collector. You could almost feel the guy becoming patronising, due to my age and it was quite amusing to hear him giving me the hard sell on the Federal! I did buy something (it was Pyrex, although I can’t remember what now) and then the owner of this generally overpriced shop had the nerve to ask if I would mind “popping out to the ATM” as although he had card facilities he would be “charged by the card people” if I used that facility!
There is a really good permanent vintage market in my nearest city, with a lady who does have quite a lot of Pyrex. She really knows her stuff but deals only from her stall, she won’t answer phone or email enquiries, which is a shame, as it’s quite a hike to get there. I do sometimes buy from private sellers and other collectors, who for the most part are lovely but there are some eccentric ones! I recently bought some pieces which I really wanted for the shop from a private seller in London. I wasn’t going to be in the area and the vendor didn’t want to post, so a friend offered to collect them for me. It was all a bit cloak and dagger from the word go as the seller insisted they meet under the clock at a famous station (now that sounds like a starting point for a movie if ever I heard one!). I sent the money to my friend via bank transfer and she very kindly set off to complete the deal in her lunch break. As she met the lady, she realised that she’d forgotten to get the cash out of the bank for payment and explained that she would just have to pop to the ATM clearly visible about 20 feet from where they were standing. The seller (who naturally had not yet handed over the Pyrex) insisted on accompanying my friend to the ATM! I’m not entirely sure what nefarious consequences she thought might ensue if she went alone…! My friend said afterwards that the whole thing reminded her of those spy movies where they make hostage exchanges on bridges. The only element lacking was Tom Cruise (which was a shame as it would have made my mum’s day!). That seller was certainly eccentric but her Pyrex was exactly as she said it was and I have no complaints.
There are two things which really bug me about buying vintage Pyrex. The first is supposed ‘experts’ who have vintage shops but also sell online. Originally I thought this was brilliant as it would save me an awful lot of travelling. That was before I realised that some (and it is only some – there are some brilliant online vintage dealers) put anything good which they have to sell in their physical shop and seem to think that it’s ok to put the not so good stuff on their website and then to be somewhat economical with the truth when describing the piece. I’m not sure why they would think that a) that was in any way acceptable or b) that people would receive something not as described online and then just shrug their shoulders and accept it. A couple of months ago I bought a piece from a vintage dealer with a good reputation but I bought from their website rather than their shop which is a few hundred miles away. The bowl I received was in terrible condition, with a chip and extensive scratching to the pattern. I was appalled and thought I might have a fight on my hands getting a refund but interestingly, there was no quibble and they refunded me when I returned it, so they clearly knew it was a substandard piece. The second thing which bugs me is similar and I bet some of you have experienced this either if you’ve bought online or travelled some distance to view an item and it’s not quite what you expected. Actually, I think this might be a concern which the medical profession should look into because there seems to be an epidemic of colour blindness in vintage dealers (when it comes to our particular obsession anyway). I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve gone to see a duck egg Gooseberry and it’s actually turquoise and vice versa and this is when I’ve been visiting vintage ‘specialists’! To be honest, I love both colours, so it sort of doesn’t matter but I can imagine how frustrating that could be to a new collector searching for a specific bowl. That seems to me to be ignorance of the subject, which is not great but is not done deliberately but if you’ve ever bought Pyrex online, I bet you’ve come across the odd piece which has had a lot of colour added to its photograph. When I was a new collector, I bought a coral Gooseberry 442 online and the colour in the photos was beautiful. When it arrived, it would barely have passed as a pink and I’m pretty sure it had been on far too close terms with a dishwasher! I can laugh about it now but at the time I was devastated. I recently saw a Spacesaver online described as a “coral Daisy” – obviously it was pink but someone had clearly spent a couple of hours on Google and decided that if they described it as coral it would sell for a higher price. That’s partly why I set up PyrexPartyPixie, as I wanted to create the sort of online store that I would like to buy from. Quite honestly I can’t see what these people are trying to achieve, as you would think they’d realise that an unhappy customer won’t call again. Well, that’s my pre-Christmas moan over with! I do apologise, it’s the thought of having to battle my way through the crowds at the supermarket this afternoon – wish me luck!