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Mixers, Toaster, and Blenders .... Oh My!

10/1/2009



Recently we appraised a home that had a "retro-kitchen" filled with 1920 to 1960 vintage electric appliances that were still usable.  Wow! It was a step back in time with toasters, blenders, mixers, juicers, and other items not commonly seen in homes today.  Since "mid-century modern" is the era with the greatest increasing value, the forty plus year-old collector is trying to capture a time and a look in today's home, and many have started with the kitchen.


Even if the 1950's vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster model 12 with its classic milk glass appearing bowls sitting on the black base only adds a look, they still work and work well. This was the first 12 speed mixer on the market that was adjusted by turning the large black knob on the back of the machine. There also was a setting to adjust the spinning bowl platform from large bowls to small bowls. The beaters were disconnected and removed by swinging the handle off to the side of the motor which then could be used as a portable hand mixer. A used, well-maintained Sunbeam Mixer usually sells for $30.00 and at times it can be found at your local thrift store for less.  The hunt begins.


Toasters, blenders and early juicers tell the same story.  The General Electric toaster which was popular throughout the late 1940's and 1950's  was constructed of a single chrome case with no seams, and stood on a base of ribbed bakelite in richly marbled brown. There is a resurgence of popularity with the two-control, pop-up feature with a warmer selling for $15.00 to $30.00 depending on condition.  The Toastmaster and Sunbeam are as equally popular.


The Osterizer blender with the classic beehive chrome base Model 10 that was mass-marketed in the late 1940s and into the 1950s has maintained the best value. It has to weigh at least 10 pounds, and that's just the base; and the glass is so thick that if you dropped it onto a tile floor from a countertop it probably would not break. It is almost as heavy as the base. And the black hard rubber top looks strong enough to be a hockey puck. This blender was made when Americans built for Americans in America when our technology and practicality and labor force were the envy of the world. Maybe that is what the retro buyer is trying to capture: a lost America. The blender routinely sells for around $75.00. 
 

The early appliances were better made, lasted "forever" and were only forced off the counter top and relegated to the garage because of color changes, design styles, added computerized buttons, multiple settings, and other gimmicks that enticed us to step up to something better.  Steel, enamel, and stronger motors were replaced with colored plastic and foreign made parts that did not last so the cycle of obsolescence was built-in to the newer appliances.  Newer isn't always better.  Something some of us have never learned.


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