If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

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Revere Ware pot
Kentin Waits / Money Talks News

Shopping thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales can be overwhelming. With the sheer volume of stuff, how do you know where to start? How do you spot gems amid all the junk?

As a professional reseller who has been combing through thrift stores for the better part of 30 years, I can help. If you’re ready to cut your shopping time in half, score bigger bargains or walk away with brag-worthy finds you can flip for cash, read on.

From hard-to-find household items to resale moneymakers, everything featured in my “Thrift Shop Like a Pro” series qualifies as a BOLO (“be on the lookout” for) item. When you find it, buy it!

Featured find: Vintage Revere Ware cookware

If you thrift shop like I do, you probably skip over the pots and pans section. In most secondhand stores, this area is a jumbled mess of orphaned lids and pans with melted handles. Oh, the error of my ways! I’ve recently discovered a hidden gem among the kitchen chaos – Revere Ware.

Though the company’s roots date to the 1801, the modern iteration of Revere Ware was introduced in 1939 at the Chicago Housewares Show. The “secret sauce” that it made it an immediate hit with consumers was Revere Ware’s cladding process. By electroplating steel with copper, heat could be distributed more evenly, and cooks could use stainless steel without fear of accidently scorching food.

Early product lines were designed around a standard 15-piece set that included sauce pans, frying pans and stock pots. After pausing production to meet artillery needs during World War II, Revere Ware’s popularity continued to grow. In 1948, manufacturing expanded from Rome, New York, to Riverside, California.

In 1968, the company made a manufacturing decision that would forever change Revere Ware and make all cookware produced up to that point highly collectible. By reducing the thickness of the copper and stainless steel layers, the company cut costs but compromised the effectiveness of the product. For that reason, vintage (that is, pre-1968) Revere Ware is preferred over later pieces.

Why buy it?

New developments in cookware materials never seem to match the classics. Stainless steel, copper, and iron are usually preferred by chefs, last longer and don’t pose the potential health risks associated with Teflon or aluminum

If you score a well cared for piece (or, fingers crossed, a full set) of vintage Revere Ware, expect it to last for decades. Sure, it may not have the glamour of an all-copper set or feature the latest innovation in non-stick surfaces, but it’ll get the job done – for very little money and with no complicated care instructions.

Understandably, buyers are rediscovering Revere Ware and elevating it from humble kitchen essential to culinary must-have. On eBay, this pre-1968 24-piece set of Revere Ware sold for $475, and this 19-piece set sold for $377. Over on Etsy, this vintage 4-quart stock pot is listed for $199.99, and this pre-1968 tea kettle can be yours for a steamy $125.

What to look for

You’ll find the Revere Ware logo stamped on the copper bottom of pots and pans. On pieces made between 1946 and 1968, the mark features the left-facing profile of Paul Revere encased in two circles (this mark is referred to as the “double ring” logo in the resale market).

The words, “Copper Clad Stainless Steel” encircle the profile image and “Revere Ware” appears below it. The year “1801” frames each side of the image. Pre-1968 pieces will also be marked “Made Under Process Patent” or “Pat. Pending.” Marks on pieces made after 1968 have no mention of patents.

Don’t be discouraged if you find a heavily used or dirty piece of Revere Ware. By following a simple Revere Ware cleaning tutorial, it’s relatively easy to breathe new life into this high-quality cookware — and maybe make a few bucks in the process.

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