Pyrex Promotional Items
In addition to the roughly two dozen standard Pyrex color opalware pattern collections produced for various lengths of time over the decades were what are termed promotional pieces. Originally marketed with an eye toward gift giving and only offered for a limited time, most were in the form of a single dish with a cover, in a unique color or pattern, and often including an accessory such as a trivet or candle warmer cradle.
Corning marketing and product development departments were quite inventive in using standard shapes and sizes of dishes to create new products each season. Otherwise common casseroles became "deluxe" when offered in an unusual decoration or with a metal holder to turn them into buffet or snack servers.
Initially, seasonal promotional items were typically released twice yearly: in the fall to coincide with holiday shopping, and in the spring for Mother's Day or wedding gift giving. Designs offered at each time of year were matched to appeal to those respective buyers, and changed over the years to reflect the tastes of the times.
To emphasize the "limited time only" nature of the items, dealers were requested to remove any remaining unsold units from their sales floors at the end of each promotional period. Dated local newspaper advertising, however, shows that promos were apparently offered as much as a year or more beyond their initial introduction.
New promotionals were released in groups spanning a range of price points, in order to accommodate gift-buying consumers' budgets. Size and model of dish or bowl, level of decoration, and functionality of the included accessory all factored into product cost, and, therefore, the price.
Fair trade laws, in force for much of the mid-20th century, allowed manufacturers to set retail prices on their goods. They are why you will see prices imprinted on the cartons in which Pyrex and other products were packaged. Often, the price was placed on a perforated tab which could be removed without damaging the carton, allowing a measure of discretion by Pyrex gift-givers.
In later years, promotionals were offered as parts of special "collections", such as "Designer" or "Hospitality". These included a few selections available year-round, in some cases for more than a year, and which were listed in the regular semi-annual dealer catalogs in a "Gifts" section.
Promotional pieces in their original, complete state are among the most difficult to acquire, and usually among the most expensive as collectibles. More often than not, the box is (expectedly) long gone, the cradle or trivet has gone astray or is non-original, and the original lid is either missing or replaced by a generic one. All are things collectors need to consider when assessing value.
But, even without its original lid, trivet, or box, an extremely rare 1959 promotional "Lucky In Love" 1 quart Cinderella round casserole actually sold for over $4000.00 on eBay in 2015.
To distinguish them from Standard patterns, promotional pieces are often referred to as "Non-Standard" patterns.
The use of gold leaf decoration was, with few exceptions, confined mainly to promotional pieces, and was seen on both dishes and lids. Advertised as "22K gold", it lent an upscale air. Although not true of lids, the gold decoration is always seen applied over a fired-on base color. Lids decorated with it typically show wear from stacking or usage as trivets. Gold leaf decoration on Pyrex was discontinued in the early 1970s due to incompatibilty with microwave ovens.
Multi-color decoration was also found more often on promotional pieces than it was on Standard patterns. Production costs were higher than for single color decoration, since each color was applied in a separate pass.
Things To Know About Promotional Items
Over the years, various "special" items were offered. While technically promotional, they consisted largely of standard items packaged in novel ways, and also offered for a limited time. Unlike seasonal non-standard promos, specials typically did not appear in dated catalogs. Some may have been confined to a market channel or offered through a stamp redemption program. Many were prominently labeled "Special Value", while others were seen packed in generic cartons. Some examples include:
Some less often-seen specials to look out for:
Stamp Redemption Programs
Although several standard pattern pieces were offered, some non-standard versions-- usually bowl sets-- were produced for distribution through stamp redemption programs like S&H Green and Top Value. They typically consisted of pieces decorated in an alternate color, or an alternate version of an established standard pattern collection. Examples include:
While not technically promotionals, stamp program exclusives are often seen grouped under the Non-Standard umbrella.