Hang on to granny's old kitchenware & you could strike it rich

Kitchenalia is becoming increasingly collectable. Eve Cowan of Eve's Antiques tells us more

03 March 2019 - 00:03 By Hilary Biller
Kitchenalia: the term given to vintage kitchen collectables.
Kitchenalia: the term given to vintage kitchen collectables.
Image: 123RF

What is kitchenalia? It's a term given to vintage kitchen collectables - from kitchen gadgets to old-fashioned fridges to jelly moulds and utensils.

The difference between antique and vintage is antique is an item that is a 100 years or older whereas vintage is anything under 100 years old.

I'm passionate about cooking and did catering for a while and used to entertain a lot. Part of the fun of entertaining for me, besides the cooking, is the setting of the table, especially at Christmas time.

I used to do a lot of baking and all my baking tins were vintage and as an antique purveyor it started me on my journey to specialise in kitchenalia. I started to source select items for my own kitchen and eventually clients heard of my interest and would ask me to source pieces for their kitchens.

While I enjoy making dishes that have been handed down through the generations (I am 82 years old so I have some really traditional cooking recipes going back in my family!) but what I enjoy most is making marmalade and jam and baking wonderful fruit tarts and cakes. I still make Rex Union marmalade and apricot jam every year, getting my Rex Union oranges from an orchard in the Rustenburg area. Having to use large vintage pots to get the best results in jam making prompted my love and interest in antique and vintage kitchenalia.

Young people tend to want to throw out all of grandma's old 'things' but it is these things that have become so collectable. Not only that but the old utensils and kitchen gadgets were made so much better than the flimsy items we see mass produced today. So if you find that solid wood rolling pin or cast iron potato masher, take another look at it and keep it - you won't ever find another one like it ... and remember the many cooks who made wonderful dishes with them.

Unusual bottles; those with brand names from the early part of the 20th century have value and will look good in any kitchen. Look for enamelware sets for sugar, flour, etc and display them; Carltonware is also collectable - you might have one hidden away that belonged to a relative - take it out and display it.

The Victorians and even earlier households had utensils for everything. Look for those and if they are silver and by a well-known maker, you have an antique investment
Eve Cowan, antiques purveyor

I think gadgets are the most fascinating as they give us a peek into the minds of Victorians who were "inventing" new things to make life easier. I discovered an old raisin pipper and vegetable peeler - even then, cooks were taking short-cuts when preparing food.

The Victorians and even earlier households had utensils for everything - asparagus forks, marrow spoons, berry spoons. Look for those and if they are silver and by a well-known maker, you have an antique investment!

My trusty old Range cooker I had in two homes - a farm in Petrus Steyn and Joburg - was my favourite but sadly, I could not take it with me. I did, however, keep an old wooden fridge that has now gone to a family member who promises me they will cherish it and pass it on.

If you are a serious collector looking for a solid investment, then buying Cape copper from the early Cape coppersmiths has become hugely desirable. With our British heritage enamelware is highly collectable and makes for a wonderful display, as do vintage gadgets such as an old scale that can be used as a fruit container.

I recently found a wonderful heavy brass Art Nouveau late 19th-century trivet that is not only perfect to hold a steaming pot roast but looks elegant on a table. 


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