Sunday, February 27, 2011

Le Parfait Super Mason Jars Made in France

I was out thrifting with a friend when we came upon a mass of vintage mason wire clamp mason jars! When I say mass, I mean that there were about a dozen jars, embossed with "Le Parfait Super" in a beautiful raised script on the glass.

The jars are made in France, and their volume was written in metric on the base of the jars. They could have been used for canning preserves, as the rubber gasket would be boiled, the contents closed in, and then heated to create a vacuum seal.

Because there were so many, including a couple of Arc France jars, we had our pick of the litter and scrounged around looking for those with the best gaskets and wire clamps. I learned that these are called bail tops, or lightning closures. They are an extremely effective and easy way to tightly close up a jar!

Even the hinged tops of the jars were beautiful, with their scripted print. Parfait is French for "perfect", so I suppose these are the perfect super jars!

I just love their shape, with their bulbous bottoms. Le Parfait actually still makes jars for canning and general uses, but I don't think the modern ones are as nice as these! =)  It is helpful to know that there are replacement gaskets available. An interesting fact is that the orange gaskets are trademarked by the company since it made consumers recognize these as Le Parfait jars.

I'm still pinching myself about this, but this thrift store has low prices and was still holding a half price sale. I got both of these beauties for 55¢. I know this post is a bit picture-heavy, but I just had to share!

Linking up to ATG's Thrift Share Monday!

UPDATE: I have finally found some vintage Ball mason jars - if you are interested, check them out here!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vintage Montreal Canadiens Hockey Jersey by CCM

So the Vancouver Canucks were beaten the other day by the Montreal Canadiens, and it stung. I have been a Canuck fan since the age of 8, and I know I will always love my Canucks. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I can confess that I purchased a Habs jersey!

Oh the horror! Just kidding... The reality is that I have a soft spot for this fellow Canadian NHL team, especially with their history and great simplicity of their logo and team colours. I spotted this kids jersey made by CCM with the tag that read "Garcon Boy M/M" at my local Value Village. Current NHL jerseys are made by Reebok, but I've always liked the old CCM ones from the 80s. This one has a stitched-on patch logo, which you don't see on some of the lower quality silkscreened pieces.

I have seen similar jerseys for the Canucks, Leafs, and Flames go for $11.99 or so in this same store, but this particular jersey was priced at $6.99. I have no idea why, but it was a deal too good to pass up, even if I don't think I know many Montreal Canadiens fans that could make use of this.

Sometimes the temptation of a good deal is just too much, and I end up making an impulse buy that sits in the closet, untouched for months. That's certainly one of the drawbacks to thrifting!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Disneyland California Metal Tray

My big sister is in town visiting from California, so I thought it would be fitting to share this old Disneyland souvenir! I found this metal serving tray or plate at a thirft shop and couldn't resist it for the quarter it cost me.

There are no dents nor rusting on the entire plate and the detail is wonderful. It shows a state map of California with landmarks and cities. Mickey and Minnie are sailing over the state on a nice hot air balloon ride... Two bad there weren't six balloons  ;)

All the locations are marked with a Disney character or cute sketch. I will probably be using this as a garden tray for my seedlings as I'll be starting these indoors next month. Hurray for Springtime and longer days! Can't wait to eat a fresh tomato again.

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you reading out there and commenting! I'm so glad you are enjoying my finds. Of course, I'm always excited to read about your adventures and discoveries too. Please become a follower and keep on reading!

Linking up to Thrift Share Monday

Friday, February 18, 2011

Aluminum Measuring Cups

I love finding practical kitchen stuff at thrift stores. Certain vintage pieces are built sturdier than cheapo modern versions, and are obviously much cheaper!

These cute aluminum measuring cups fit the bill for me. There is a half price sale going on at my local charity thrift store this week, and I purchased this set for 25¢.

Each one is labelled accordingly, Fourth Cup, Third Cup, and Half Cup underneath the rim, and have the numeric fraction embossed on the bottom of the cup. They look so charming sitting on my vintage 1964 Joy of Cooking book!

The handles are small, sized to be held basically between your thumb and index finger when scooping up dry goods, but are well riveted to the cup. It's probably safe to say that these cups are from the 1950s. There is no rust nor dents... They are in great condition for being 60 years old!

I think I can find a spot for these new guys in my kitchen...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vintage Red Copco Skillet Made in Denmark

In a previous blog post where I talked about my turkey salad sandwiches, I promised that I would give more face time to the red Copco cast iron skillet I was using for my green onions.

This Copco 109E skillet is one of the first things I purchased from a Craigslist seller. I was very nervous about the concept of meeting a stranger to make a purchase!  However, the beautiful red colour and great condition reeled me in.  The skillet is 8" in diameter with a pour spout, making it perfect for frying up some green onions with olive oil and salt.

The skillet is made in Denmark as labelled on the underside of the pan. Copco made some great enamelled cast iron pieces between the 1960s to 1980s, designed by the modernist industrial designer Michael Lax. Lax was an American born designer who studied in Finland and was known to have a Scandinavian influence on his designs. His iconic Copco pieces included paella pans, roasters, and tea kettles. I am not sure if this skillet is from Michael Lax's era with the company but I still love the sleek look of it.

If anyone knows the timeline during which Copco made enamelled cast iron, please let me know!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vintage Black and White Hanson Scale

I ventured out to a suburb of Vancouver to check out some new thrift stores on a late Sunday afternoon. It was slim pickings at this one Salvation Army store but my rummaging paid off when I came upon another vintage Hanson scale.

Unlike the cheerful and bright Red Hanson Scale I found last year, this one has crisp black lettering on a white background. I noticed some remnants of packing tape so I scoured the shelves and finally found the tray that sits on top of the scale. It acts as a measuring cup of sorts since it has the measurement hash marks on it. As with the red scale, this one also indicates that it was made in the Republic of Ireland.

There is a paper sticker on the bottom of the scale that reads 09.L.86 so I think this dates the piece at about 25 years old! I really struggled with the $3 cost (I know, sorry) but finally decided it would be nice to have another Hanson scale. The great thing is, when I went up to the till, the clerk took 50% off the price! Apparently "miscellaneous" items were on sale that day...

Which scale do you think is nicer, the clean Black and White? Or the colourful Red?

Linking to ATG's Thrift Share Monday!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Refinishing Wood with Mineral Oil

There is an abundance of practical wood items at thrift stores, often in rough shape. They are some of the cheapest used items I've seen!

We couldn't resist purchasing these utensils at the thrift store and trying our hand at restoring their beauty. I think I have mentioned before that Mr. SixBalloons loves restoring little vintage wood items. We found a honey dipper or drizzler, teak bottle opener, and a couple of spoons in pine and bamboo. That cute metal ice cream scoop made its way into the photo too, because of its nice ribbed handle.

The most expensive item above was the teak bottle opener at 50¢. I forgot to take a photo of the wood pieces before sanding but I'm sure you can imagine based on what you've seen in the wild. Simply using some rough grit sandpaper improved the look of these pieces significantly!

Applying food grade mineral oil on wood items in the kitchen is safe and effective. Apparently this is a good way to seal the wood from bacteria and moisture, while preserving its appearance. Using vegetable oil is not recommended, as it can go rancid.

Look at how rubbing mineral oil on the wood brings out a golden hue on the wood and reveals the grain beautifully! We let the oil absorb into the wood overnight and repeated a couple of times.

My best tip is to purchase "Heavy" Mineral Oil from a drugstore. This is safe for consumption and can be used on your kitchen goods. A similar product carried by my local Williams-Sonoma store in Vancouver is marketed towards kitchen cutting boards and utensils but was about four times the price!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Staunton Chess Set with Wooden Handmade Box

I need to share with you readers that there are so many things I love about thrifting. First there is the thrill of the hunt, then the victorious feeling of a great discovery, and finally the research I can do to learn about a piece's history. Isn't it the gift that keeps on giving?

I was roaming around one of my regular local thrift stores one day with no success. This is a clutterred old thrift store with two resident cats that you can smell once you walk in the door. I was about to give up and head home when I noticed a beautifully made oak box. The corners had fine finger joints, and a carved indent for its slide top.

I have always admired great woodworking and was surprised to see ten finger joint pairs along a corner of a box that is less than 3" tall. I imagine that these joints were all chiselled by hand! I didn't know what to expect inside, and slid it open eagerly.

Inside was a partition separating black and white chess pieces. The chessmen were all wood, finely made, and had felted green pads on their underside. I tempered my excitement because often these sorts of finds are accompanied by the disappointment of missing or broken pieces.

Luckily, all the pieces were intact and both teams had all of their chessmen present! In doing research to find out more about the box and the era of these pieces, I found that these are Staunton style chess pieces. I understand that Staunton chess pieces have been the standard shape, weight and overall design required for all chess tournament play since 1924. This is because the pieces are universally recognized and I suppose, comfortable to play with.

There are wide ranges in eras and makers for vintage and antique chess pieces, so it was difficult for me to narrow down any further information. Originally, when I bought this set, I was thinking that Mr. SixBalloons could refinish the wood box. Since this set may actually have some value, this might not be a good idea. It's all part of the fun of thrifting, so I will keep doing research to find out more. In the meantime, I probably don't have to feel too guilty about the money I spent on it!

Linking to Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pyrex Pink Daisy

I love Saturday mornings, because that's when I get an opportunity to visit my regular church thrift stops. Last Saturday, the friendly volunteers mentioned that the proceeds from the sale were going to a Boys and Girls Club in their neighbourhood.

Instead of flying straight over to the housewares section, I milled about in a quieter area of the store when I first entered. I was rewarded with a Pink Daisy oval divided dish in pristine condition!

It came with its own clear lid and was priced at $3. One of the volunteers told me that she just placed it on the table. I looked around and realized that they were putting out all the new stuff in this area where it was nice and quiet!

There were some amazing treasures in that place. This magical new-stuff table had a basket labelled "Vintage Leather Gloves $2" with ridiculously buttery ladies' gloves. Not only were they the softest leather I'd probably ever felt, some had handmade embroidery-like edging details, cut-out patterns at the cuff, and came in blacks, browns, and whites. I know I am gushing here, but they were simply magnificent.

Luckily for the next person, the gloves were much too small for me. My hands are fairly petite, so either people were built differently back then, or the gloves were for little girls. Either way, I loved having the chance to admire them and appreciate the handiwork that went into creating them, and I happily walked out with my first pale pink Pyrex piece!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Griswold Cast Iron Skillets Part II

Thanks everyone for your comments on my rare Griswold #2 Skillet! As I mentioned, I was lucky enough to find a larger #8 Griswold pan on a nearby shelf on the same day.

I usually find large cast iron pans too heavy to handle but this one seemed surprisingly light when I picked it up. Vintage cast iron has thinner walls and smoother finishes than those produced by major manufacturers today. I suspect this has to do with labour costs, as the old Griswold and Wagner factory workers completed the extra step of grinding the pan interiors to a smooth finish after casting. Some sources also refer to higher quality metals being mined during that era.

There are pros and cons for both vintage and modern pans. The newer Lodge cast iron pieces have a rougher finish, but their thicker walls allow the pan to heat up slowly and retain even cooking temperatures. Griswold pans are better for searing, as their thinner walls heat up more quickly. The smooth surfaces are better suited to seasoning, and subseqently provide better non-stick performance.

I love this elegantly simple detail at the underside of the handle as it meets the pan. Apparently this is an identifying mark for collectors to differentiate authentic pieces from fakes.

I was certainly surprised to learn the high value of the collectable small skillet shown below. This larger pan, on the other hand, is in a much more common size and is therefore valued at about $40. I think I may have to dabble in the art of Thrift ReSelling for the little guy, and keep this one for myself.

My plan is to clean the pans thoroughly and season them well so I can examine their true condition. The beauty of old cast iron is their ability to be stripped, cleaned, and restored. I can't wait to see the results of this process! If all goes well, I will post a tutorial on the subject. =)

If you are planning to keep your eyes peeled for valuable vintage cast iron pieces, here are the Top Five pointers I picked up:

1. Griswold is more sought after than Wagner

2. Wagner pans are similar quality to Griswold (I suppose ReSell the Griswolds, keep the Wagners?)

3. Heat Rings on the underside of a Griswold pan date the piece to the 1920s or before

4. Griswold pans without an ERIE marking were made in a separate factory and are of much lower value

5. Some later pans were marked with both Griswold and Wagner names when the companies merged. These are of limited value.

Happy Hunting!
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