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Patterns With Patterns

Beyond the spectrum of early solid-colored Pyrex kitchenware were literally dozens of collections with a variety of silk screen-applied decoration.

Ranging from simple starbursts to intricate florals to complex geometricals, decorative graphics were applied in contrasting and complementary colors and also in gold leaf. Decorated Pyrex pieces, especially those found in excellent condition, can be among the most valuable as collectibles.

It is important to note that, in Pyrex Ware terms, the term "pattern" has dual meaning. It is often used to refer to the silk-screened decoration itself. But, in a larger sense, "pattern" refers to a designed, coordinated set-- some pieces having decorative designs on them and some not-- offered together as a named collection. Perhaps the term came to be used for Pyrex ware much in the same way it is for china or flatware.

For most collectors, patterns fall into one of two categories: Standard or Non-Standard, the latter being defined as those individual promotional items released only once and for a limited time, with everything else being considered Standard.

However, Pyrex patterns can actually be divided further into six general categories: Standard, Limited, Non-Standard (aka promotional), Specials, Stamp Program, and Third Party. It can sometimes be confusing as to which category a particular pattern belongs.

Standard patterns are those whose collections were typically comprised of a full range of dishes and bowls, and which were offered for two or more years. Some earlier patterns, as well as some marketed during the waning years of decorated opalware production, included less than a full range of shapes, but are nonetheless considered Standard.

The standard patterns known as "Pyrex Ware Compatibles", whose decorations are complementary to certain Corelle patterns, include the widest range of models of dishes. These include Butterfly Gold '72, Spring Blossom Green '72, and Snowflake Blue.

Limited patterns fall between Standard and Non-Standard patterns. The decorative design or color scheme appeared for a year or more, but only on a specific set of bowls or on a selection of pieces far fewer than those of a more complete Standard pattern collection. Examples would include Golden Acorn casseroles; the Multicolor, Rainbow Stripe, Dots, and Americana bowls. The Golden Honeysuckle oblong casseroles and the short-lived Hearth Group collection would also fall into this category.

Some Limited patterns came to be later marketed as part of Standard pattern collections, e.g. the autumn-hued Americana bowls added to Early American, or the Multitone Blue bowls, turquoise Snowflake casseroles, and turquoise Butterprint combined to create the eponymous "Turquoise" collection.

To keep it simple, these Limited patterns are typically seen categorized with Standard patterns, although various sources contradict each other (and sometimes themselves) as to where they belong.

Non-Standard patterns, more often referred to as promotional pieces or "promos", were produced on usually only a single piece with an accessory, and typically offered as part of a grouping of several seasonal items in a single year. They far outnumber the standard and limited patterns, and tend to be among the more coveted as Pyrex ware collectibles.

Specials were marketed similarly to Non-Standard, but differ in that they were merely accessorized Standard pattern pieces offered for a limited time. Daisy oval casseroles with serving baskets and an Early American casserole with mounter cradle are but two examples.

Some Specials blurred the line between Special and Non-Standard. Two that come to mind are a Horizon Blue 474 Cinderella round casserole with a patterned lid and serving basket, and an Early American Cinderella round casserole with gold leaf decoration on the lid.

Stamp Program patterns are in some ways a sub-category of Standard. Few in number, they include select Standard bowl and casserole sets sold through regular channels as well as variants of some standard patterns.

Alternate versions of Verde and Town & Country were produced contemporaneously to their Standard counterparts and marketed solely through trading stamp redemption programs.

Other examples include Butterprint sets decorated in all orange (440 set), pink (470 set), or turquoise (400, 440, 470 sets) with plain opal bases.

There are also several individual items regularly seen tagged as Non-Standard in patterns available exclusively through stamp redemption catalogs.

Third Party patterns are those released by companies other than Corning, who sourced custom-decorated opal and clear glass pieces from Corning to include in their own products. These are often seen grouped with non-standard Pyrex promotionals, even though not marketed by Corning. Some examples include:

  • Salton Cosmopolitan casserole with electric warmer
  • Stanley Home Products Duchess Casserole with candle warmer cradle
  • Dainty Maid serving bowl with cradle and lid
  • Starline by Rodney Kent serving dishes with candle warmer
  • Georges Briard oval platters with cradle

Often a source of confusion, there doesn't seem to be a clear pattern to how pattern collections were composed. That is to say, the decorations did not always appear on the same style pieces across them all. Examples would be nesting sets with alternating decorated/undecorated bowls, or refrigerator sets with both plain and decorated dishes.

And, even among those named patterns having different versions, they are not necessarily found on the same style pieces in each. In the Standard version of the "Town & Country" pattern, the 400 series mixing bowls are in solid colors with no decoration, while, in the Stamp Program version, they are unpainted opal with the "Town & Country" graphics applied.

As another example, pieces that are part of the "Daisy" pattern are in shades of orange to yellow, a decorative design applied only to lids and to alternating Cinderella mixing bowls.

Then there is the original Verde, with its unique "olives" decoration initially appearing on opal glass oval lids and only later on round Cinderella casserole lids.

To be even more confusing, patterns which were given no official name-- primarily promotional pieces-- have had a variety of names made up for them by collectors and eBay sellers. While this can be an annoyance-- several different names for the same pattern-- it is often the only way some patterns can be referred to or searched for online.

Things To Know About Patterns

  • Some patterns' decorations are dish-only while others are lid-only, with a few seen on both.
  • Some patterns' lid decoration differs from that of the dish or bowl.
  • Some patterns on lids differ slightly from one size to the next.
  • Decorated nesting bowl sets often alternate base and decoration colors, meaning some combinations on certain sizes do not exist.
  • Some pieces were sold as open stock in colors opposite those sold with sets.
  • Contiguous patterns on bowls normally do not complete the entire circumference, Rainbow Stripe and Terra being two exceptions.
  • Patterns known as Pyrex Compatibles were made to go with existing Corelle dinnerware patterns.
  • Some patterns were only produced on a single style, size, and color promotional piece.
  • A few patterns, like Butterfly Gold and Spring Blossom Green, underwent revisions to their color and decoration.
  • Variants of some patterns were available through store premium or stamp redemption programs.
  • Although "standard" patterns include more types of pieces, the number of them released pales in comparison to the number of "non-standard" patterns.
  • Partial or variations of pattern graphics are sometimes seen to make them fit better on a lid, on small pieces like storage ware, or on tableware.
  • Many promotional piece patterns were labeled on cartons generically, e.g. "Designer Collection" or "Hostess Casserole", and were given no specific official names.
  • Some patterns fall between standard and non-standard, being sold for longer than a season but only appearing on a limited group of pieces.
  • Some are actually third party products for which Corning supplied a custom decorated dish.
  • Names are often seen applied to a pattern that are not its official name, leading to confusion in the collectibles marketplace.
  • Some American-made pattern collections were sold in Canada under a different name.
  • Some patterns seen described as extremely rare may simply be UK JAJ or other non-US Pyrex pieces.

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