Bowls are one of the most common cooking tools in a kitchen, which is why we probably take them for granted. But ask any good cook if there’s a non-electronic item in his or her kitchen that they simply could not do without and you might learn that it’s a favorite mixing bowl—chips, scratches, and all.

Ceramic bowls offer the collector—and cook—the greatest range of choices. Yellowware bowls were first produced in Derbyshire, England in the late 1700s. Within 100 years, potteries in New Jersey such as the Jersey City Porcelain and Earthenware Company, as well as firms in Kentucky and Pennsylvania where deposits of the light-colored clay were also plentiful, made the U.S. a center for this utilitarian ware.

Yellowware bowls, which were as wide 18 inches across, were often pressed into molds, producing vertical or horizontal ridges, basketweaves, and other designs that made them easier to grip. Single or multiple blue, white, or pink stripes were usually added as a highlight. Yellowware bowls were also marked by thick rims, which allowed the cook to grip the side of the bowl with one hand while mixing vigorously with the other, and the bases of these heavy bowls were always flat.

Between the 1920s and 1940s, one ceramics company, McCoy, embossed and molded its bowls with more details than its predecessors. McCoy also broke the genre’s predisposition for yellow by glazing its bowls in a range of soft-to-deep greens. The other feature of these McCoy bowls is that they nested, so that several bowls could be stored within the space taken up by only the largest of the set.

Another type of vintage ceramic mixing bowl employed a technique called spongeware, which was practiced by Red Wing Stoneware, among others, in the early part of the 20th century. Its yellow and rust dappled bowls with modest rims and utilitarian feet are quite collectible, especially if the bowl features an advertising message at the bottom of its inside surface.

Homer Laughlin China Company took a different approach with its nested sets of Fiesta mixing bowls, produced from 1936 to 1943. Unlike the McCoy and Red Wing bowls, Fiesta bowls were taller, featured lips that were less handle-like, and came in a range of bright colors, some of which were literally radioactive, albeit at extraordinarily low levels.

After World War II, Shawnee Pottery Company made several lines of corn ware, so called for the kernel-and-leaf patterns on the outsides of many of its bowls and other kitchen and dinnerware items. White Corn patterns came first in 1945, followed by Corn King (yellow kernels, through 1954) and Corn Queen (lighter yellow kernels with darker green leaves, through 1961)...

Kitchenware collectors also prize glass batter and mixing bowls. The most famous of these were produced in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s in a color called Jadite, which was a widely copied soft green color pioneered by Jeannette Glass Company of Pennsylvania. McKee Glass also made bowls in Jadite-like hues, as well as white bowls with red ship decorations or polka dots.

Anchor Hocking created steep-sided, “splash-proof” Jadite bowls for its Fire King line, as well as riffs on the McKee polka-dot bowls in both red and black. One of the most collectible Anchor Hocking bowl sets is Kitchen Aides, which featured red hand mixers, measuring cups, and other common kitchen tools on the sides of a set of four nesting bowls.

Fire King utility bowls were also made in clear and translucent hues—its Crisscross pattern was almost identical to one sold by Hazel Atlas Glass Company. Meanwhile, Pyrex made glass bowls with white interiors and cheerfully colored outsides. Red, blue, green, and yellow were the standard colors, but in the 1950s horizontal stripes and rows of gradated polka dots were also quite popular.

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