Hi everyone. Sorry, we haven't been posting lately - just haven't felt like it was appropriate considering the circumstances overseas. It's hit close to home for us, but luckily it appears our relatives and friends are OK for the moment. But our hearts go out to everyone else over there who's been affected.

Anyhow, I thought I'd take things in a new direction this week rather than our usual thrifting post.

We have a habit of picking up inexpensive books and other items at thrifts and estate sales for "research purposes". That is, we don't really intend to sell them, but plan to use the information to gain more knowledge about a particular area. While there's a lot of information online on collectibles, designers and companies, some of it is incorrect (though it's important to remember that information in books can be wrong too!) or diluted to the point where it's not useful.

So we'd picked up this book called "New Glass: A Worldwide Study" which was produced about an exhibition organized by The Corning Museum of Glass and held at The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 1979. This was actually a second production commemorating the 20th anniversary of Corning's "Contemporary Glass Exhibition" of 1959. I've been trying to slowly get acquainted with some of the other glass companies around the world, and thought this book might be helpful.

However, we were pleasantly surprised to see that one of the entries picked was the modern glass bakeware designed by Vignelli Associates (Massimo and Lella Vignelli). You may have seen this glassware around - it has distinctive ridge-lines running around the perimeter of the glass items. It flies under the radar a bit - most people think it's some sort of Corning/Pyrex production (we certainly thought so at first).

We've come across a few of these Heller glass bakeware items ourselves, but have always wondered about the different sizes and items that were produced. It was a little confusing as well, since we didn't know whether items were covered, or in some cases WERE covers. The round casseroles are meant to have more than one use - as a covered casserole, an open baker, or the lid as an au gratin.

We had seen some information on Design Addict, but they didn't show all the different pieces there. So it was nice to find a page that had all of the sizes and shapes. I'm still not sure if these five items were the ONLY ones produced, but most of the pieces we've seen elsewhere appear to be listed. One exception is a smaller bakeware bowl or individual ramekin that measures about 4 inches across. (Please let us know if you have one that isn't listed, and we'll include that info here.)

What's still unclear to us is if/when this design line was actually reproduced later by Glasbake (Jeanette). We've seen them marked under the name "Chef's Choice". It's certain that they were later reproduced for Jeanette, but we aren't certain to what extent and whether or not there are differences in the glass. Those later pieces are definitely marked as such, however.

In case you're having trouble reading the text, I'm going to write out all the information on the 5 pieces of Vignelli bakeware shown. NOTE: I've also added "other" pieces not listed in the book that we or others have come across. These are denoted with an asterisk, and I've given whatever information I can on it. The diameters and widths given include the "flat rim" of the pieces.

Three Quart Casserole with Au Gratin Cover
Height: 14.2 cm
Diameter: 29.1 cm (11.5") Date: 1977
Signature: Heller Oven/Microwave Bakeware Design by L&M Vignelli Made in USA 20
Designers: Lella and Massimo Vignelli
Colorless glass, pressed.

Two Quart Casserole with Au Gratin Cover
Height: 14cm
Diameter: 24.8 cm (9.75")
Date: 1977

* One Quart Casserole with Au Gratin Cover
Height: (Including cover) 12.7cm (5")
Diameter: 21.1 cm (8.25")
Date: ?
Notes: Not sure if this was also sold without a lid.

* Individual Casserole or Ramekin
Height: 5.1 cm (2")
Diameter: 16.2 cm (6 3/8")
Date: ?
Notes: We don't believe these were sold with lids, but haven't been able to confirm it.

Deep Loaf/Pate Pan
Height: 7.7cm
Width: 17 cm
Depth: 24.5 cm
Date: 1975

2 1/2 Quart Lasagna Dish
Height: 5.7 cm
Width: 28.2 cm
Depth: 38.2 cm
Date: 1975

8" Square Cake / Bake Dish
Height: 5.4 cm
Width: 26.5 cm
Depth: 26.4 cm
Date: 1975

* 9" Pie Plate
Height: ?
Diameter: ?
Date: ?
Notes: We have had this boxed, with an item #509.

Note that the heights for the covered casseroles do not appear to include the au gratin cover. It's also interesting that those covered casseroles were designed later (1977) compared to the other items.

OK, hope you enjoyed this writeup. Happy thrifting!

Edit: 9/12/11 - We just found 3 of the smaller individual ramekins or casseroles with the same L&M Vignelli markings on bottom. They measure 6 3/8" wide and 2" tall. I believe the earlier 4" number given for the width may have been the measurement for the bottom of the ramekin. The 6 3/8" is including the rim. Unsure if these had lids or not, the ones we found are lidless.

Edit: 11/11/11 - I just found an "inbetween" size casserole with L&M Vignelli marking on bottom. It measures about 8 1/4" wide and 3" tall. I believe that this one usually had a lid cover, but ours did not come with one. Unsure if they were sold both ways.

Edit: 11/14/11 - I've decided to start keeping track of any different Heller Vignelli glass pieces we come across online, and not just the ones we find. Eventually, will probably re-do the above listings to include all pieces - especially since it appears there are a lot of different ones not included in the New Glass book. I saw a Heller Vignelli pie plate listed online. It was a nine inch pie plate and actually came with the original box... item number on it was #509. I haven't seen box numbers before, so that's interesting.

Edit: 3/7/12 - Picked up the large 3 quart casserole with au gratin cover along with the medium size 8/ 1/4" casserole mentioned previously. This time, the 8 1/4" one had a lid to it as well. I've added this one to the overall listings above.

Responses:
  1. Jane Says:

    Your post is interesting – although a little overwhelming – so much info! Glass makes me nervous, I just don’t know enough about it to know when something is special or not. I am sure I have passed up nice things at the thrifts. I do pick up things that are interesting, or pretty – to me. The other day I bought a pyrex bowl with fluted sides (not just around the top lip) which is a mystery to me. I’ll eventually take a picture and maybe someone can help me out.

    Thanks for all the great info.

  2. Jenny Says:

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve sold a few pieces of it, but didn’t know many details. They are definitely easy to miss at the thrift shops as they blend in with all the others…

  3. Tracy Moses Says:

    My mother recently passed away and I found a set of this bakeware at her house. I really love the modern design and plan to keep it for myself but was wondering how to tell if it’s from the earlier production or the later? I have 4 of the smaller round bowls (or 2 bowls and 2 lids?), a larger round bowl with a shallower bowl/lid and a square baker. It’s fantastic stuff. Thanks for your interesting post.

  4. A La Modern Says:

    @jane – glass makes me nervous as well… one thing I do is try not to pay much for any glassware if I don’t know the maker or history. That way if it turns out not to be valuable, I don’t have to eat too much of the cost when I donate it.

    @jenny – I see it overlooked by a lot of folks, even at estate sales. To a lot of people, it’s the same thing as a pyrex dish.

    @tracy – To be honest, I’m not entirely sure about what I mentioned about the “Chef’s Choice” mark above. But it seems plausible to me that these are newer production. I’ve been burned before by stating stuff like this, so I won’t say I’m sure. The info about this mark was listed on Design Addict.