4 Flea Market Finds That Might Be Worth Way More Than You Think


These kitchen tools from the 1950s and ’60s might be worth more than you think. So, if you’re like us and love a good flea market find, you could also like these numbers for those finds!

4 Flea Market Finds That Might Be Worth Way More Than You Think:

1. Kitchen Canisters

Space-age sheen. Copper canisters were a ’50s fave.

Brides-to-be in the late 1950s dreamed of receiving Kromex kitchenware. Made of lightweight spun aluminum, the products wooed customers with their sleek design, satiny finish and colors ranging from turquoise to classic copper. The Kromex nesting canister set was a best-seller. Raised lettering on the snug-fitting lids identified flour, sugar, coffee and tea, and the handles were made in a fun push-button shape associated with the burgeoning Space Age. Kromex
satisfied postwar consumers with matching salt and pepper shakers, spice sets, bread boxes and cake carriers. Alcoa Aluminum made the line between 1957 and 1960, before the company switched to industrial production. A four-piece canister—$6.88 in 1960—is now worth more than $100 in mint condition. Complete sets are hard to find, but pieces are sold separately online, at estate sales and in antiques malls. Cleaning tip: Vintage Kromex pieces should be cleaned only with products sold specifically for use on aluminum surfaces. These thin-bodied pieces scratch and dent easily.

2. Polar Opposites

Hot and cold. Penguin bucket keeps contents warm or cool.

Another novel product from West Bend left buyers cold—and hot. Patented in 1941, the Penguin Hot and Cold Server doubled as an ice bucket and food warmer. Embossed with eight waddling penguins, this chrome container graced many a buffet table at get-togethers in the ’50s and ’60s. Collectors today love it for its Art Deco style, complete with sloping handles that resemble penguin flippers. It can be used for everything from warming chocolate to storing plastic bags or food scraps for composting. A container in poor condition will cost a few dollars; in
excellent shape, it’s worth $50 to $95.

3. True Brew

Morning brew. Coffee lovers fell for slick plug-in percolators like this one.

Coffee fans across America perked up in 1949 with the dawn of the Flavo-Matic Percolator. Made by the West Bend Aluminum Co., the new model was a fully automatic upgrade of the company’s stovetop percolator. Just plug it in and let it brew, ads advised, “to the exact peak of flavor.” The Flavo-Matic was
sold in basic aluminum as well as three trendy colors of the day, Sunset Gold, Delphinium Blue and Cherry Red. The 6- to 8-cup percolator sold for $11.95 to $13.95. Today, expect to pay around $65 for one in excellent working condition with all parts included—basket insert, stem, lid, glass finial and original cord. Note: When this vintage percolator is plugged in, the exterior metal gets very hot.

4. Colorful Tumblers

Techno tumblers. Fans still thirst for fun cups like these.

Most kids of the ’50s and ’60s recall wrapping their hands around jewel-toned aluminum tumblers and sipping Kool-Aid during the summer. These metallic cups were anodized, a process that made them unbreakable, rust-resistant and colorfast—just the thing for picnics and camping. The majority were made in Italy by two companies, Sunburst and Bascal, and sold for less than $1 apiece. Many tumblers were grocery store giveaways. In 1954, the nationwide Borden dairy filled them with cottage cheese and encouraged shoppers to collect eight-piece sets by offering a different color every week. Old aluminum tumblers with worn coatings and paint should be used as decorative pieces only, but many food-safe reproductions are pretty easy to find. You should be able to purchase vintage tumblers in good condition for $6 each.

Barbara J. Eash is a certified personal property appraiser who specializes in antiques and collectibles.