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Your best cookware find at a garage sale?

Now that my cookware Knowledge has in increased because of chowhound, I will start looking for hidden gems at garage sales.

What is your best find at a garage sale?

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  1. Three in quick succession, all copper! An estate sale in Whittier got me a pile of different-sized gratin pans, one round and four oval, for a total of $60; a yard sale in our Pasadena neighborhood two weekends later yielded two French saucepans with lids, one big and one small, $12 total. And an estate sale on Mt. Washington a month later got me an antique English sauté pan, with a stamped-in monogram and iron handle, and a 12" French skillet, $5 apiece. Re-tinning and polishing for all this ran me about $300, roughly the price of any one of these bought new.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      Don't take away my chowhound creds but mine was one of those electric sandwich press/makers that makes 2 square sandwiches with the diagonal "seam" down the middle.

      It cost 25 cents. We bought it when we were newly weds and very poor. We're only moderately poor now (lol). But it made a lot of really good "grilled" cheese sandwiches and peanut butter and banana sandwiches back in the day. I still have it almost 17 years later and it still works. It still makes kick-ass cheese sandwiches too.

      1. re: Ariadanz

        You just gained about 25 years worth of CH cred in my books on this. I grew up with a waffle iron that doubled as a grilled-cheese sandwich maker, and finding one that still worked that way was a personal landmark to me. Any snowy day I could count on a pan of tomato soup and a platter of those sandwiches to keep me perking.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Good finds and eBay sellable anytime you want. I spy out copper everywhere not just cookware. It is almost a precious metal being that it is in the same Periodic Table grouping as silver and gold. It is a lesser cousin of those two, a bright shinning knight ready to joust

          1. re: lastZZ

            I found an 8 quart Le cruset dutch oven for 2.00. I love it.

        2. Cast iron skillets...I think I've gotten three or four over the years. The most recent is the perfect size for one fried egg, and so very well seasoned... <grin>

          2 Replies
          1. re: kcshigekawa

            Lord, I was forgetting the cast iron! Keep at it, because it's everywhere. I bought my first piece, a smallish Dutch oven, at a hardware store, and the big grill pan at a cookware place, but something like eight skillets, two chicken fryers, a big Dutch oven, griddle and godnose how many muffin and cornstick molds … it's a disease, I'm out of room, but if it's under ten bucks I can't not buy it.

            Those itty bitty baby pans were salesman's samples, and usually wound up in the batterie de cuisine of some little girl's toy kitchen. Yes, I do use mine for an egg once in a while, just to justify keeping it!

            1. re: Will Owen

              I always look (although I'm trying to avoid garage/yard sales these days...way too much stuff...), and will never turn down good cast iron!

          2. Nothing fancy or even name brand, as far as I know, but I had a fantastic dutch oven that I picked up for maybe a dollar. I could even panfry steaks in it and have them come out great.

            Sadly, I lost it in a move and have mourned it ever since.

            1. My best garage sale find is an old-fashioned fifties era rolling pin that I like very well. I don't use it nearly as much as I used to, but when I pull it out, it is a pleasure to use.

              It has red handles, and it rolls freely on a steel pin. (I think that's how it works.) I work a little flour into the barrel and away I go.

              1. A cast iron skillet for fifty cents.

                1. No12 Cast iron Dutch ovens with legs for the campouts for under $10 (picked up several over the years for the Scout troop)

                  A barely used Sunbeam CG-1 waffle iron for $5

                  I have made many treasure finds in the local thrift stores,and Craigslist ---waaaay too mant to list.

                  1. My husband found this for me. He saw a bar for $25 that was perfect for his sister's basement. While waiting to chat with the owner, he found a box of Calphalon hard anodized commercial and professional cookware, most of it never used. The cookware wasn't marked. When asked how much, the owner said $35 for both.

                    When he got the box home, I calculated $1,200 of brand spanking new cookware, mostly sauce pans, specialty pans and stock pots. The owner didn't like it because it wasn't non-stick.

                    1. Hi, Jason:

                      I haven't had a lot of luck at garage/yard/boot sales. The best I've done was a pair of SS pentolas that were $1 each.
                      Luckily, they fit two of my pans perfectly. Otherwise, they'dve been in *my* next yard sale.

                      I think I should move to Will Owen's neighborhood...


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Trust Kaleo to know and use the word 'pentola'. :o)

                      2. Not a garage sale but a 9" saute pan and a 12" fry pan. Both Chantal in cobalt blue with Excalibur non-stick and both only lightly used. No scratches or chips. Both for $30 on Ebay. As usual, the seller had no idea what they were worth.

                        1. I don't go to garage/yard sales too often. (Something about having the homeowner watch me sift through their stuff creeps me out.) There are several thrift stores in my area that I stop at on occasion. Over the years I have gotten an electric ice cream maker with the built-in compressor for $12, several dozen knifes from the older Chicago Cutlery to Wusthof, Henckels, and once a Shun. I never paid more than $3 for any of the knives, except the Shun which I got for $20.

                          The best deal on a cooking vessel was a 5 quart Tramontina clad stainless saute pan for $20 at Goodwill. Oh, our kitchen toaster is one of those old Sunbeam toasters where the bread drops down and pops up automatically, it was $4.

                          It's come to the point now where we never buy small appliances or cookware without first giving it some time to check out the thrift stores. (It's not that we can't afford to pay retail, but the hunt can be interesting.)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: John E.

                            And the older stuff last longer. My Sunbeam T-20 automatic toaster was made in 1950, and works better than the new toasters I have tried.

                            1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                              Ours is relatively young, it was made in 1967. The only drawback is that bagels won't fit into it. We don't eat bagels anymore anyway, and not really all that much toast either.

                            2. re: John E.

                              I have 3 toasters like that. $.50-$1 each. They get hotter than new ones, making the bread toast quicker- not as drying to the inside of the bread.

                            3. A Le Creuset cast iron/enamel grill pan. It's huge. I got it for $5 at the Goodwill store in North Bethesda.

                              I also got my Cuisinart on eBay - complete with five slicing discs for $75. Only used once and the seller didn't want it. Her loss -- my Christmas present...

                              1. My most recent "score" was a 1970s type Presto 4 quart pressure cooker. It had no regulator (weight) so I got it for $10 and I have Presto regulators anyway. If you can get to flea markets and garage sales you can find the best cookware with 90% of it made in USA. Also include Goodwill and Salvation Army.

                                The best from America's more industrial post WW2 past is copper bottom Revere and Farber ware and old CorningWare and old Pyrex. They all knew what they were doing.

                                1. Thrift shop: A brand-new Cordially Yours electric cordial maker (including documentation) that turns a pint of vodka + anything into a drinkable liqueur in 8 hours. US liquor lobby soon nixxed this Japanese import so you can't buy them anywhere.

                                  Auction: An Il Gelataio professional electric ice cream maker for $37.50, new, some kind of ex-sample from a store. At the time (this was about 25-30 years ago) the Il Gelataio was retailing for around $400.

                                  Garage sales: Be on the lookout for exotic cookware that people find they don't actually use and so get rid of to clear storage space. All of my madeleine pans came from garage sales. And I saw a $30 Williams-Sonoma choo-choo train cake pan for $1.

                                  1. Let me throw this in as potentially helpful to people seeking cookware on the secondary market. If you live in the vicinity of a large city, google the words "estate sales chicago" (or whatever city) for a weekly rundown on current sales. The website will give addresses and dates and also show lists and pictures of merchandise to be sold. And here's an example of why you bother: at an estate sale I once opened a basement closet and found it full of professionally-laundered tablecloths showing that this family had had a restaurant so I thought I'd take a look in the kitchen and see what else they had. Big sign: "All knives $1". I picked out all of the Henckels.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Querencia

                                      I once got a vintage Wusthof 8" chef's knife with a wood handle for .50¢ at an estate sale. I also bought a 12 volt trickle charger for ten bucks and curiously enough, needed to use it within a week.

                                    2. A cast iron waffle maker you use in your fireplace. $1

                                      a mini cast iron pan, just the right size for an omelet or two fried eggs. $1

                                      a juicer attachment for my kitchenaid- brand new, still in the box! $5

                                      1. Still in the box 3.5 liter All-clad nonstick pot with lid for $12.

                                        1. Well, now I think I may have to give in to DH and start haunting garage sales!
                                          I did get my Foodsaver vacuum sealer for seven bucks at a neighbor's yard sale a few years ago. It has more than paid for itself.
                                          This may sound really low-rent, but I picked my Tupperware 8 cup measuring bowl and my glass citrus juicer out of a neighbor's recyclables by the curb while I was walking the dog about 15 years ago. I still have them and use them all the time.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jmcarthur8

                                            Good that you grabbed them, they usually consider those types of glass unrecyclable.

                                          2. Flea market a few months ago: I spent a hefty $20 on an incredibly well-seasoned old cast iron pan... I think it's about 6" so it's tiny, but I love it. It's my first non-enameled CI piece and it has that smooth surface, no nubs like the Lodge ones I see in the stores now. I don't know much about CI, but I think it's beautiful, plus an egg fried on it can slide right off. No clue of the brand... the bottom is stamped with 5 C but that's it.

                                            Goodwill: an All-Clad 1.5 qt windsor pan for $5. My only All-Clad piece.

                                            Not cookware, but when I first moved into my current place, I snagged a very sturdy baker's rack for $8 at a garage sale.

                                            Wish I could find a Shun knife for $20...

                                            1. Every piece of cast iron came from a yard sale or thrift store... Griswold, Wagner, Lodge... most expensive was a Dutch oven for $5.

                                              Splurged (for ME) on a HUGE lot of Fiestaware... 10+ place settings & a few extra pieces... for $50!

                                              Found a blue enamel LeCreuset square grill pan. Enamel exterior is PERFECT condition and only minor clean up on CI interior... $5 at Good Will.

                                              9 Replies
                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                  Mostly jewel tones, but a few pastels in the mix. Absolutely NO cracks/ chips or noticable signs of use. Extra pieces... a dark blue (indigo?) gravy boat and a lime green cream/sugar set.

                                                  1. re: kseiverd

                                                    How nice.

                                                    The dark blue is likely to be Cobalt.

                                                    The lime green is probably Chartreuse, which could be either vintage (pre-1973) or contemporary (post-1986, the year Fiesta returned to the marketplace). It's now a retired color.

                                                    Or it could be Shamrock (a more true lime green) or Lemongrass (a very yellow green).

                                                    Here's the current roster of Fiesta colors: https://www.fiestafactorydirect.com/c...

                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                      My grandmother had a 12 piece setting that she bought in the early 50s. She gave it all away to her neighbor in the early 70s. My mother talked about that for years.

                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                        That would be worth some bucks today, John E. Everything vintage (pre-1973) is more valuable now than the post-86, which is what's for sale today.

                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                          Is there a way to tell the difference (when thrifting)?

                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                            There's a whole lot written on this subject, and available in books and online. I'm not familiar with vintage Fiesta personally. Here's a link to someone considered a top dealer, Happy Heidi. http://www.happyheidi.com/antiques/fi...

                                                            If you're going to hunt down vintage Fiesta, it's also helpful, of course, to know what's NOT vintage, and I have numerous websites for that.


                                                            http://www.eskimo.com/~onan/HLC/Post8... (colors aren't perfect matches, but it's a comprehensive list through 2010. Additional colors include Marigold and Flamingo.


                                                            If you ever were to get into post-86, know that Sapphire and Lilac fetch collector prices. Check them out on eBay.

                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                              Thanks so much for the links!

                                                              I realize now it's a silly question. :-) Far too involved for a quick answer!

                                                          2. re: Jay F

                                                            My mother was not even a collector and she was out of her parents house before my grandmother bought the Fiestaware. My mom just liked all the colors.

                                                2. I found a vintage La Trompette Sabatier carbon steel chef's knife for a quarter! It was in a 25 cent basement full of stuff. It was dark down there, so I couldn't read the stamp, but it felt so light weight, I thought it was probably carbon steel. I love it!
                                                  Here's one just like it on ebay for $329.99 (although I realize many things on "buy it now" ebay these days are way over-priced!!)

                                                  1. Not a cookware item but food related. An eighteen eighty six cookbook for twelve dollars

                                                    1. cast iron. I also found a copy of Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook for 9 dollars. That was right around when it first came out. It isn't too often you find really nice cookbooks at garage sales.

                                                      1. A set of 6 oval sizzle platters for $10 & a brand new in the box, small OXO salad spinner for $5.