Kit out your kitchen with antique & retro kitchenalia

It started with the wildly successful ‘Downton Abbey’ and subsequent historical series and movies, as viewers were absorbed in the goings on in the Victorian manor kitchens full of copper pots, stoneware bowls and wooden rolling pins. If you are a TV foodie that watches Jamie Oliver and the Nonna’s in Italy, you will see Jamie going back to the old days when the old ‘nonna’s’ made those delicious pasta dishes often using decades old vintage kitchenalia. Whether whisking eggs by hand in an earthenware bowl, grinding herbs in a stoneware mortar & pestle or storing in wooden or tin boxes –  collecting ‘culinary antiques’ or ‘vintage kitchenalia’ is all the rage.

The Antiques Fair at Nelson Mandela Square on Sunday 3rd March will be focusing on this unusual collecting genre as the over forty antique dealers, who come from all over the country, will be showcasing their best finds – from Bakelite, enamelware to copperware – from collectable kettles to advertising tins and Italian kitchen design decor.

According to Eve Cowan, of Eve’s Antiques in Johannesburg who specialises in kitchenalia, there has been renewed interest in going back to basics – both in cooking styles and in using tried and tested kitchen implements. “There is nothing more satisfying than using a good, solid turn of the century wooden rolling pin or cookie cutter or folding in a cake mix in a classic blue-and-white Cornishware mixing bowl. These kitchenware items were made to last and we often see items such as copper pots, cannisters or old cast-iron potato press or apple peeler being passed down through the generations, with many fond memories of distinctive smells coming out of grandma’s kitchen as she prepared Sunday lunch or a Christmas feast.”

The term kitchenalia covers both antique and more recent vintage items. An antique should be 100 years old, while vintage items should generally be from the 1930s to 1950s. Modern design classics by Italian design companies Alessi or Guzzini cater to those wanting to add a more ‘modern’ and quirky look to their kitchen. Collecting kitchenalia is popular because it’s affordable, practical and brings back feelings of nostalgia, family gatherings and good food.

There are serious collectors only wanting the top end of the market, those who collect by function, manufacturer or value, whilst at the other end are fresh young buyers who are just starting out and want to give their kitchen a unique and quirky feel with a few storage jars on a shelf or an advertising sign on the wall. Kitchenalia plastic items are finding their fans too as they prefer to re-cycle, re-use and preserve old plastic rather than buy new. From the ubiquitous Tupperware, the great find of the 1950s, to Bakelite, another, earlier type of plastic, is collected as are novelty items such as the plastic mugs with moulded faces made for Cadbury’s Bourneville, plastic egg cups in the shape of chickens, or kitchen timers resembling fruit, animals and food items.


Some of the items that can be seen at the Antiques Fair at Nelson Mandela Square on Sunday 3rd March include;

– A large 36cm heavy copper cooking pot c1850

– A miniature Cape ‘Piet fluit’ kettle

– An Art Nouveau Victorian brass trivet

– Victoria cast iron apple peeler

– 6 French aluminium canisters

– A large selection of vintage enamelware – bread tins, platters, canisters

– Various copper items – from pots, jugs, coffee pots and jelly moulds.

– A pair of rare English Victorian novelty silver jelly moulds in the form of Japanese masks – c1822 by Louis Dee

Kitchenalia is a vast subject that covers so many different kinds of collectables. You never know what may be lurking the drawer of an old kitchen dresser. Even if it’s just an old knife with the blade worn thin by constant use, or a wooden rolling pin shiny smooth from seventy years of making pastry, think of the hundreds of meals they’ve helped prepare, all those carrots they’ve chopped and all the pies they’ve made. That’s what brings a bland kitchen to life. History – it’s what collecting is all about.


The Antiques Fair on the Upper and Lower Levels of Nelson Mandela Square takes place on Sunday 3rd March from 9am to 4pm.

For more information contact:  Clyde Terry on 083 377 6721 or or visit

Media Liaison: Giuli Osso – 083 377 6721 or