What to collect: Brightly colored anodized aluminum housewares

vintage anodized aluminum planters what to collectI am starting another new, occasional feature: What to Collect, spotlighting: Collections inspired by your photos, maybe a little bit of the collectible’s history, and maybe a look at the particularly rare or unusual pieces to look for. First up: Anodized aluminum housewares — especially the brightly colored pieces. 

I was inspired to go learn more about vintage and antique anodized aluminum by the photo above: It’s from Chicken301, who uploaded this photo of “anodised aluminum planters with succulents” when readers shared 105 photos of their outdoor spaces. Sure, I’d seen colored aluminum tumblers and coasters before — but never planters like these. So pretty — and such an impact when you group them together — this is the secret of displaying collections: Mass them. Anodized aluminum: What else is out there? So I went searching on etsy.com to see what other odd and wonderful examples I could find… what to collect? –>

To start, I searched “anodized aluminum” on etsy… and received just four pages of items in return for my query. I went through the four pages and found a few nice examples of this collectible… but I was not satisfied … and thought there must be more. Sure there was: I searched “vintage aluminum”, and — yikes! — 193 pages came back to me to ogle.  I made it through 90 pages and in the process found this:

smogmaster ash trayAbove: Smogmaster Ash Tray from VintageCoolETC on etsy.com. Image used with permission. And this:

vintage aluminum light with different shadesAbove: A terrific wall light with four different color aluminum shades, also from VintageCoolETC. Image used with permission. And this:

vintage barware pourersAbove: And on page 90, I found this — NOS liquor bottle pourers, shining more brightly as an aluminum Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. At first I sent the listing to Cullen, thinking he would love this. But before he could even reply, I had to have these for my own vintage hoard. Score! Will I ever get the guts to actually use them? I think not…they are just too too sparkly….

The history of brightly colored vintage anodized aluminum housewares…

anodized aluminum tumblers and dessert cups
Here’s a photo from a reader (submitted when we asked for wallpaper photos). I tend to think the tumblers are not “uncommon”. But those dessert holders with fluted glass cups — I bet they are more rare and, therefore, collectible. Am I right?

I could not find much about the history of this collectible online. I welcome any readers with knowledge of this collectible to share — and I will add it here.

What are the most collectible examples of vintage and antique anodized aluminum housewares…

Again, I need help on this one. I tend to believe the tumblers and coasters are pretty common and, therefore, not worth a great deal of money. But going through all those etsy pages (and mind you — I only made it to page 90 of 193 before my eyes started to bug out), I was able to spot some pieces that looked “odd” or in particularly good condition that I guess would be worth more. 

Readers, do you collect brightly colored vintage anodized aluminum house wares?
What do you know about this collectible? 

  1. Suzanne says:

    I am looking very closely for a set of eight colors (I remember them vividly in the late 50’s and early 60’s, even though I was very young. They were a great childhood memory. I have seen them “reproduced”, so if anyone is wanting the originals, buyer beware. Some had a pitcher of varying colors….. yellow or green or red. And I remember the knitted “koozies” that fit over the bottom. I just bought a set of eight at an antique store. They are hard to find, but they are in excellent condition and in the original box. I thought they were a steal at $18 for the set of koozies. I’ve seen various pieced together sets on Ebay…..but you really have to look close and ask the seller about nicks and dents and some chipping of color, unless that doesn’t bother you. I’m watching a few sets….but their buy it now price is a bit much for the ordinary tumblers. There are also juice sizes, so be cautious about what you are getting. Happy hunting!

  2. Susan R says:

    I have “STILL IN THE BOX” a set of 8 Color Craft assorted color mugs! They belong to my Grandmother, we used the tumblers all the time, but when she passed we found this box of unused mugs in the back of a kitchen closet. I don’t think I could ever use them, but what do I do with them? Nothing like them on Ebay, or anywhere else online.

  3. Joni says:

    I recently inherited my grandma’s collection of Color Craft anodized aluminum. I of course got many of the tumblers, but I also received an Ice bucket, bowls, mugs, cream and sugar sets, salt and pepper shakers, juice cups, scoops, and several pitchers. Some have Bakelite handles. I was wondering if the brand “Color Craft” possibly make them more collectible. Are pieces like the ice bucket rare? I did a search and didn’t see anything like what I have. Anyone have any info?

    1. Suzanne says:

      Sounds like a great inheritance! Anything other than the pitchers and tumblers and juice cups are harder to find! I’ve seen collections pieced together on Ebay…..have to ask lots of questions. I say I have never seen an ice bucket….but my parents did have one, but it didn’t match anything. I never paid any attention to it.

      I think Vermont Trading Store sells a reproduction version now. Not sure what pieces.

      1. Suzanne says:

        That should say Vermont Country Store. Unfortunately, I just read the reviews…..and while they look great, they are chipping and cannot be washed in the dishwasher. So much for improving on something perfect. I guess they did not use the anodizing process! Too bad….but they are expensive NEW!

        1. pam kueber says:

          Regarding reviews etc: I recommend consulting with the manufacturer before deciding to see how they warrant the product etc.

  4. Chris says:

    My Mother gave me the tumblers and the sherbert bowls a few weeks ago. She always used them for the Holidays. They had belonged to both grandmothers, which both use to buy Gold Meadow Cottage Cheese. I have 24 tumblers, all but 4 are in really good condition and 9 sherbert bowls which are in excellent condition except missing 1 glass bowl. Does any one know where to find the sherbert glass bowls?

  5. JKM says:

    My grandparents had a set of colorful anodized aluminum cups and I remember how they’d sweat when filled with a cold drink. It makes me wonder what happened to them…

    They also had the ashtrays shown in the photo – the bottoms were bean bags, which weighted them down. I’d forgotten all about them. My grandmother didn’t smoke and my grandfather had quit his cigars by the time I came along in 1960 but they still had the ashtrays, which we’d play with when at their house.

  6. Nancy says:

    Pam- Not to rain on anyone’s parade & I know we are talking about collections but- I have read that aluminum maybe a contributor to Alzheimer’s & that these old products might not be safe to use. Just saying, maybe collect but not use?

    1. pam kueber says:

      This comment came in earlier — I would refer folks to officials on this… the U.S. Gov perhaps? Not sure.

    2. Suzanne says:

      This is true….but the anodized coloring is supposed to protect the product. It would not hurt to check into it. I wouldn’t use any dishes or cups if they are chipped. Many are right around the rim from being washed over time.

      On the subject….did you know that most deodorants have aluminum?
      Check your labels…..unfortunately, it’s one of the main ingredients that make them effective! 😮

  7. Terrie says:

    I LOVE these pieces. I do collect them, however I know next to nothing about them. I too would have labeled them as aluminum. I collect them because they remind me of my Grandma. She had a few of the drinking tumblers and I loved them because they were colorful and kept the beverage cold.
    ~ Terrie

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