One of the primary items I search for at second hand shops and garage sales is vintage cookware.
My favorite items to look for are vintage cast iron, stainless steel and copper pans and pots.
For a variety of reasons there is an abundance of used cookware available often times at real bargain prices. I find many items are donated to goodwill or sold at garage sales by people who have changed the style of their kitchens or who don't like the look of a weathered pan.
Being someone who places a premium on quality and who appreciates the look of a seasoned pan I am in heaven when I find used cookware.
Sadly most people who discard classic pots and pans often will replace them with an inferior product which is frustrating and completely unsustainable.
Some of my favorite things to find are vintage Griswold cast iron. Their design is so simple and elegant and their industrial look is very appealing to me.
I recently found a great pair of stainless steel pots on eBay made by Polaris of Norway (pictured). The design is magnificent, clean lines, highly functional beautiful stainless steel.
Polaris worked with a number of top Scandinavian designers over the years and their products are known for being of superior quality. I use my two Polaris pots all the time I love them.
Five tips for finding vintage cookware:
Determine what you like – cast iron, enameled cast iron, vintage enamel, stainless, copper etc and spend some time learning about the different manufacturers and designs they have produced.
Buy pieces you like and don't be afraid to mix and match
Tag sales and church sales are where you'll get the best bargains on vintage cookware.
Look for vintage products made in the USA or Europe the quality on these items are usually very high.
If copper is your interest learn the difference between a decorative piece and piece designed for use. Keep in mind that often the best decorative pieces are ones that have been used for many years as they develop a beautiful patina and show wonderful signs of use.
When I buy vintage cookware I am always buying pieces that are usable. For me the enjoyment comes from using the pieces as well as having them in my kitchen.