Fire-King Tulip Pattern Oven Ware
|The smallest mixing bowl from my four-bowl set.|
When I was a toddler, our kitchen was small and sunny, located in a second-floor apartment in a late 19th century house near the harbor. It had only one west-facing window, but the walls were painted yellow and the room was radiant in late afternoon.
The spice drawer smelled of what I now recognize to be cinnamon and cardamon. The bread box was tin with a yellow top. My mother used Fire-King Tulip bowls to mix cake and cookie batter. The bowls, eventually replaced by Pyrex, survived many decades without nicks or chips.
When my sister and I cleaned out Mum's still-yellow kitchen cupboards - no longer in an apartment but in my father's family home - we found two sets. One belonged to my late Aunt Dorothy, her older sister and my godmother. My sister and I each took a set of four nesting bowls.
Fire-King oven ware, an Anchor Hocking line, originated in the 1940s. Much like Pyrex, it was ideal for everyday kitchen use. Housewives acquired it piece by piece in bags of flour, or as weekly promotional items at stores. It was also sold, much as Pyrex is today, at hardware and grocery stores.
You may be familiar with Fire-King's Jadeite line, which Martha Stewart collects. I'm sorry I never acquired any of this lovely light-green glassware; it it pretty pricey stuff these days.
In the 1940s, Fire-King oven ware was commonplace. The primary-colored tulip design was the prettiest pattern. Today, it's a collectors' item. I've seen a four-bowl set like mine offered for $225. The asking price for individual bowls is $20-$50, depending on size.
Fire-King's tulip line included other items, like salt and pepper shakers, but mixing bowls are popular in online searches.
Online sales descriptions usually spotlight the bowls' excellent condition. The ivory-colored sets are also described as splash-proof, likely because they are deeper than most mixing bowls.
But beware before you buy a set. There are impostors, according to this blogger who loves and collects Fire-King.
I probably won't use mine. But I like looking at them inside my pie safe, along with cake pans and pie plates from various family kitchens. They add character and the patina of age to my favorite room in the house.