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If you are looking to see how much your melmac is worth, read this post. MOBILE USERS: Scroll down below posts to find a searchable directory of plastics and antiques.
Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Steri-Lite Plastic STERILITE COMPANY Connections to Tupperware

Sterilite Picnic Set
Sterilite Box with full picnic set For sale at RetroChalet

The Sterilite Corporation

Kudos to Sterilite who is one of the few plastic factories who has withstood the test of time.  The Sterilite Corporation is still in business and started in 1939.  You may or may not realize originally the company started in partnership with Earl Tupper.  (One of the creators of Tupperware.) Imagine that!  All good things come from plastic.   According to the website at the time of today's post, I took this little snippet, . " Sterilite is the largest plastic houseware manufacturing company in North America with seven plants totaling over 12 million square feet'  

I'm glad as a small bbq business owner myself, that a family business has lasted so long. You may not even realize when you are walking through the Wallyworld just how many products they make.  From pull out plastic cabinets to totes and bins,(of which I'm looking at some now that hold my Etsy stock),  their presence in our daily lives is prominent.  For vintage collectors, you may find pieces marked Sterli-Lite or Sterilite.  For the sake of this post, I'm only talking about the picnic sets. They weren't made of melmac, but most likely a Polystyrene plastic.

steri-lite vintage plastics
Inside of an Original Sterilite Picnic Set  at RetroChalet

The picnic sets were quite popular in the 40's and 50's and are a hit with people who had campers. For the working families of the 1950's, having a travel trailer would be the ultimate family vacation.  Picnics were also a huge thing, whether it be in a park for the day or not, these sets were very popular.  Grandparents also enjoyed them, due to the fact they were light weight and pretty and easy to deal with making a quick snack for the grandkids. 

In collecting, some of Sterilite Picnic Sets you will find:  (often unmarked)  Steri-Lite 

1.  RARE TO FIND:  Actual Wicker Wooden Baskets full of Sterilite Picnic Sets - with dishes strapped in and places for plastic sterilite utensils.  Finding a set with all pieces and still mint is rare, but it happens.  I assume utensils would have been easier to break or lose. 

2. RARE TO FIND:  Boxed sets like mine, often called Picnic Sets , rare but out there.  Especially in primary or pastel colors will be most collectible. 

sterilite vintage plastics
This item sold at LSVintageDesign but shows the snakpak, more common and what I often find in the thrift stores. Note the original silverware will be hardest to find.  The box is a rare gem.

STILL COMMON:  SNAK PAKS -(ABOVE) These pieces are more common and popular, and easy to find.  Often these were four rounded picnic plates with indents in the center to hold the cup.  A big hit with moms with kids.   Finding the original box is not as common and considered rare. I have not seen one in years. 

UNCOMMON:  The picnic sets still sealed in plastic bag sets.  Most often I think these were found in the dime stores of the 1970's and maybe into the 1980's, they came in a bag with graphics.  If you are lucky enough to find one unopened, that's impressive.  Often they were opened, and used, and floating around in flea markets. 

Other manufacturers of simliar vintage picnic sets: 

INGRID - Big for their party balls. 

TUCKER - Often looks much like Sterilite

JERYWIL - Often rectangular 

REGALINE - Simliar to the SnakPaks

Mod PIcnic Set

This STERILITE set from HipFindsCo, is most likely a 70's-80's set, shaped much like INGRID party balls. This a prime examle of Sterilite staying on top their game!

Back to my set, the funky bright colors make this set a rare find and a real gem. You can see how the original set was packaged by the manufacturer, carefully thought out. In this original box, there is a premade slot for display and actually thin kraft like paper in between the pieces.  This would have displayed nicely in a retail store. 

Sterilite vintage plastics
Rare original stickers say this can withstand scalding water! Pic: RetroChalet

The rarest of rare, is the original stickers still on these little cups.  It says they can withstand scalding water but does say to avoid ovens and any surfaces with open flames.  As you know, tea was quite popular as was coffee back in those days and one of the problems in melmac collecting is often the unsightly coffee stains.  Additionally, when I looked closely at the yellow plate in my set, I could see swirling which is a super cool part of the molding process. 

This set is a rare find in the original box. I picked it up years ago at an antique mall in Pennsylvania. The dealer had cleaned out an old hardware store, and I assume these would have been sold in the picnic or camper section. It stood in a dusty attic of the store for years, and thanks to the strength of the plastic, it withstood the test of time.  I hate to part with it, but I'm making a huge move cleaning out some of my precious plastics. 

It's currently offered for $125.00 and free shipping but to my readers you can use code RETRO10 at checkout to take 10% off.  Find it here:

Do you own any Sterilite? Let me know!

If you like this post, Read about INGRID's party balls here. 

This Post Sponsored by: 

Retro Chalet Studio: Natural Home Decor

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Vintage Garden Plastic Flowers Mettlesome Means Ivory Snow

vitnage plastic flowers from etsy
Vintage plastic flowers on Etsy : Glory in the Cabinet has a small bunch for $29.72 note the stems.

All vintage plastic is fantastic!  Lately I have been happening across these really funky vintage plastic flowers at estate sales and yard sales.  Often stored in the attic or basement, it's hard to find them in good shape.   Today I'm going to tell you how to notice them and tell you some really cool history!

Vintage Cornucopia from Meddlesome Means
Mettlesome Means on Etsy has this great vintage cornucopia. 
Imagine your plastic flowers in there. BOOM.

This post is inspired by Mettlesome Means Etsy shop.  They focus on super cool garden and home decor. Many planters, flower frogs and vases can be found in their home to mix and match with your plastic fantastic.   

Molded plastic flowers were primarily sold from the 50s to present, and often bought for decorations in the home, garden, or to put on graves. I can spot the vintage ones really well thanks to the following traits. Often people confuse the newly made molded plastic flowers with the vintage, but here's some hints on how to spot the difference. 

1. The vintage molded flowers will feel more brittle and look way more fake than today's creations.  The new plastic components give them more flexibility and some plastic flowers of today look just like the real deal.  This is not true of the vintage ones.  Often times when you find them at estate or flea markets they may be so brittle that the petals may fall off in your hand. This is due to the earlier plastics mixture used and storage in hot areas, you may also see discoloration in the petals, which is caked up dust from years of storage. 

2. The flowers may appear thicker in design that the ones you see today.  The petals will be thicker and often "chunky".

vintage candleholders from etsy
The Flamingo Meadow has these candlerings on Etsy.  These are most likely 70s-80s

3. Candle ring style flowers have an easy tell.  I group them into the 50's-60's or the 70's-80's era.  The flowers with either look a) completely fake and gaudy (70's-80's)  or b) have a more simplistic, gappy design (50's-60's).  For instance, a vintage candle ring which is to adorn a long sleek taper candle from the 50's will have unsightly gaps in the flowers or spots where you simply seen the green ring and not flowers, as if some were missing or the designer thought a candle ring would look good this way but in fact it looks cheesy.   They were made in my opinion not as detailed, more simplified, and have gaps in their designs. Fast forward to the 70's and 80's they became  less gappy and more gaudy, flowers flowers everywhere!  Totally more unrealistic.  Although lots of pinks and baby blues, they were cute in tehir own right, but mainly the middle or the flowers above, you can tell is really fake.

4. The stems aka stalks will be simply wire, coated in green plastic.  Over time the plastic may have chipped off . 

5. The plastic flowers of today are much more detailed, often having four and five sprigs to a flower, where the older ones may have one flower per stalk. 

6. Todays' flowers may make you look twice, to know they are fake!

Flower Frog, Vintage, Meddlesome Means
Gorgeous flower frog for sale at Mettlesome Means Etsy Shop on Etsy. 

Ivory Snow!

Believe it or not, Ivory Snow used to give all kinds of free things away, back in the day, such as free Christmas ornaments in the box, but also FREE ARTIFICIAL ROSES in every box for a limited time. 

Free molded roses in Ivory Snow

Limited boxes had these free giveaways.

The bigger the box, the bigger the buds , you can see a video which shows you all about the roses and how they look. This will not only help you identify vintage fake roses, but give you a cool glimpse into yesteryear! Watch the full video here: 


home decorators melmac go with

These remind me of one of my favorite Home Decorators melmac patterns by Russel Wright, they would make a cute go-with.  Find them at Mettlesome Means on Etsy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Are Old LPs Records Worth Money or Will They Be Again? We Use the Bee Gees

Collecting Records etsy seller stuffbuilt sells stacks
Etsy seller StuffBuilt is selling stacks of vintage LPs'.  You get 150 45's for $30

I don't always answer reader questions because I am so busy, but a reader saw my post on old records death and rebirth and shot me this message "Do you really think collecting old records are worth money?"   My answer would be YES.  I believe with everything there is an ebb and flo. Case in point, the bell bottoms of the 1960's made their way back in fashion as flare leg pants just a decade ago.  Everything has a cycle and a recycle. Recently there are reproduction working record players for people who may start to recollect vinyl.  The issue with collecting old records is of course, the numbers and availability are now askew.  

For instance, there was a time when CDs came in that people discarded so many old records that thrift stores weren't taking them. Some melted in people's attics, garages, thereby having been warped making them unplayable, those ended up in landfills.  Then there's this: the greenies who recycle them for crafts, making them into book covers, record purses, and popcorn bowls.  Those LP's even if they were not collectible, are now taken out of the circulation .  Just from my geekified standpoint, I'll try to illustrate to you via an easy matrix. 

Collecting Old Records

So let's do a faux example Matrix for all intents and purposes: 

There is a great chart of how many Bee Gees Albums were sold in history, find it here.  So let's take their most popular album as example.  The numbers are as follows   USA / UK / WORLD

Bee Gees First (1967)450,000200,0001,100,000
So the first album sold 450,000 in the USA
Let's use this as a fake hypothesis using only the USA for example: 

USA SALES :    450,000
Broke/Melted      30,000   over time 
Landfills             200,000 due to clean outs when no one wanted records
Unplayable           20,000 scratched from use 
Crafted                 10,000 upcycled into clocks etc by artisans (see below for what I mean)
total unusable 250,000 Hypothetical 

According to this matrix,  somewhere  in the USA 200,000 * but doubtful in my opinion. This would indicate a huge decrease in original run now making an ebb and flow of supply and demand.  It's easily speculated that the original number is now cut in half. However, some of this 200,000 is still sitting in storage, waiting to be found, sitting in people's collections or attics, melting away. 

Now you may say,  "No one wants records, so what?"  If somewhere, somehow, sometime, someone makes listening to records hip and trendy again, the original Bee Gees album may soar in value. All we need is Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis doing something cool with records or Drake, Lil Nas X shown collecting them, and the rest is history. People want to emulate what's cool and trendy and so it's quite possible that this trend could come back around.  As for the Bee Gees, well, it's already a well loved album thanks to the likes of movies and just having a great disco theme.  

MARRYING is a big issue, too.  Then, we have the whole collecting marrying the cover with a record issue. If you want to know more about that, you'll have to listen to this podcast below which explains it.  I am just now starting to see more and more records returning to the thrift stores.  This may indicate kids are now cleaning out their parent's homes and getting rid of the 1960s relics, or that someone out there has realized that somewhere someone is still playing records. 

Styx Record Out of Circulation Now Etsy Shop MusicGoldmine

Music Goldmine on Etsy has done a great job using 45's in her work making them into functional purses, however, this Styx LP needs to get added to the crafting matrix above!

Stuff Built Artist Uses Records in his Art

Stuff Built Artist Manny uses records in his art, go to his etsy to see what this has become! And chalk up another 200 or so records into the matrix of crafting......

Listen to more collecting records tips below.  This website is brought to you by my RetroChalet etsy shop. Like and share this post so I will continue to write.