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  • Aaron Carruth

Scrabble Ann and the Rabid Pyrex Junkies

It's 2019. My mother and I are watching half a summer's worth of our yard-sale finds being sold at a live auction. Strange stuff is happening at a machine-gun pace. Between people watching [1] and a bit of strategic bidding, I'm as distracted as a human might be.


[1] There's a woman performing an impromptu pimple surgery on her partner's neck (with suspect disposal methods), a man who's dumped a box of smarties into a bag of cheesies to create his own hillbilly Chicago mix, and a dog searching for love in all the wrong places (he must have humped half the legs in Peterborough that night).


And yet, when I heard the auctioneer utter this sentence, he had every ounce of my attention: "SOLD for one hundred and forty dollars."


My mind was having trouble processing what I had just witnessed. A Pyrex dish, the kind your nan might put steamed green beans in, had just sold for one hundred and forty dollars.


How could this be?


It's not as if Pyrex is rare. EVERYONE has a Pyrex dish. If you don't, your grandparents have nine hundred they can lend you. It wasn't particularly pretty to look at. By every metric it seemed terribly average. I didn't get it.


"Did you just see that?" I asked.


My mother's expression suggested she was equally confused.


"Did you see that?" I repeated.


"What?"


"What are you doing?"


My mother turned her phone towards me and gave a sheepish half-grin. She was playing Scrabble. And, she was agonizing over her next word. Scrabble transforms my mother into a Batman villain.[1] It's difficult to play with her. She wins a lot (with false humility), takes AGES to complete a turn, and never - ever - EVER - opens up a triple word score for her opponent. She would rather watch the board burn in a cluttered mess of squandered tiles than play a word that might prove advantageous to you. I was only eight when I met "Scrabble Ann". I still get night terrors.


"A pyrex dish went for one hundred and forty dollars. When the hell did that become a thing?"

She shrugged, smiling wide, as she thumbed the perfect word.


[1] All of her ransom letters are written in Scrabble tiles [2] and she celebrates small victories, like knocking out two bank guards with catch phrases like: "DOUBLE WORD SCORE."


[2] An example of one of her letters. Note the "QATS". Real words that sound fake but offer points and flexibility to the morally bankrupt. Classic Ann Marie.

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Pyrex collecting is a real thing. A really real thing.


There are blogs. Guides. Articles. Facebook pages. Groups. Hashtags. Forums. Influencers.


All dedicated to Pyrex.

This Pyrex dish is worth five thousand dollars.


I'll give you a minute to recover.


That wasn't a typo. Five thousand. It's something called "Lucky in Love", a pattern produced for a single year (1959). Once again, rarity rules the day. Pyrex might not be hard to find, but certain patterns can be. Few are worth thousands, but most are worth a lot more than the loonies and twoonies people charge for them at yard sales.


As a person pretending to know about antiques, I'm late to this party. According to Brandon Shinholser, blogger at estatesales.org, the demand for Pyrex has spiked. He wrote the following passage, which I feel compelled to share, unabridged:


This sudden surge in popularity makes some Pyrex collectors wary. They don’t want demand driving the value of Pyrex up. (Collectors, whether they’re into Pyrex or Star Wars collectibles, are a lot like hipsters: territorial over their “thing,” whatever it is, and always in search of that next cool piece to add to their collection. . . the more obscure the better). But don’t let the rabid Pyrex junkies scare you off from this throwback hobby. Pyrex hunting and collecting is fun and easy, if you know what to look out for.


So many fun things to talk about.


I.

Imagine being deep enough in the Pyrex game that you could use the word "wary" with a straight face. Things to be wary of in 2020: an ongoing global pandemic, climate change, George R.R. Martin failing to finish A Song of Ice and Fire, and Pyrex inflation.


II.

Shouldn't Pyrex collectors want the value of Pyrex to... increase? It might stiffen competition for new purchases, but if you've got cupboards like this [1] shouldn't you want it to be worth more?

[1]


III.

All collectors are hipsters? Bit harsh. And you're gonna lump Star Wars in? How dare you.


IV.

Rabid Pyrex Junkies is the new name of my progressive jazz metal band.


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There are hundreds of pages worth of literature dedicated to identifying valuable Pyrex dishes. There don't seem to be many rules, per se, though pink and turquoise pieces are almost always valuable. Bright, happy colours and interesting designs tend to be more sought after. I don't think it's worth memorizing the patterns. There are just too many. Condition matters, but Pyrex is so sturdy, it's far less likely to suffer the kind of ticky-tacky damage that persists in things like teacups. If you find Pyrex at a yard sale and it's under five dollars, buy it. If it's more expensive, a quick Google Image search should be enough for you to vet the purchase.


I bought these Pyrex dishes last week ($5) because I had never seen ones with mushrooms on them.


They aren't especially collectible, but I should be able to get twenty bucks for them.


If, for whatever reason, you acquire a large number of Pyrex pieces, do not hold onto any of them as a form of investment. Keep what you like and sell the rest. Antique markets are fickle. The Pyrex craze will crash eventually. They've already started making reproductions of certain patterns (including "Lucky in Love"). Reproductions are worthless and an efficient way to topple a market.


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EPILOGUE: TALKING "THROUGH THE RADIO" WITH BOB AND ANN MARIE


I just got off the phone with my parents. Every time we talk, the qualty of the reception somehow degrades. I feel like I'm in a neverevending adaptation of Poltergeist. The original purpose of the call was to ask my father about Pyrex. This is a word for word transcript.


Bob: "HELLO?"


Ann: "HELLO?"


Me: "Hi."


Parents Together: "HELLO?"


Bob (Confused with irritated undertones): "HELLO?"


Me: "Dad?"


Bob: "FINE."


Ann: "AARON?" (laughing) "Aaron, I have some bad news."


Me: "Okay."


Ann: "I've been using your debit card for a while now. Just tapping."


Me: "Wh-"


Ann: "But, so, anyway, I tried to pay for our dinner at the Keg with it. But my pin didn't work. So, yeah."


Me: "Uhhh. Alright."


Ann: "I tried my pin three times. So, your card is locked."


Bob: "SON?"


Me: "Yes?"


Bob: "AARON?"


Ann: "Our signatures look a lot alike. Just check your bank statements and we'll pay you back."


Bob: *muttering to Ann* "Can he even hear us?"


Me: "Sounds good."


Bob: "AARON?" ... "What did you want to talk about?"


Me: "I'm writing about Pyrex, I just wanted your opinion on it. Do you have any stories?"


Bob: "Yeah. I wouldn't write about Pyrex."


Me: "Okay, dad."


Ann: "I'll see you tomorrow at 6:30?"


Me: "Yep."


Ann: "We love you!"


Me: "Love you, too."


Bob: "AARON?"


*My parents disconnect*














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