So the traditional Yiddish saying goes. And for collectors of Merry Mushrooms, the casual act of picking up our favorite fungi is now a full-blown hobby.
As a habit, I would buy Merry Mushrooms as I found them, rarely giving the price a second thought. But I always wondered just how many of these mushrooms are there? About this time last year, in April 2020, I embarked to make a list of all the Merry Mushrooms to help me collect them all. That list became the book, A Collector's Guide to Merry Mushrooms. I figured maybe other collectors might find it useful, too.
Over the past year, I've watched in disbelief as my casual collectable became super desirable but in low supply, the economic formula for skyrocketing prices. For many, this habit is now a hobby. For me, I've spent money beyond just buying Merry Mushrooms. I've spent money on this website, printing drafts of my book, ordering proofs, a laptop and ergonomic mouse, social media ads, display materials for my collection. Definitely a hobby, wouldn't you say?
But why are Merry Mushrooms becoming so collectable? Maybe it's the color, design, quality, and the sheer variety of items- the same things that drove their popularity the first time. Or perhaps it's because 1970s and 1980s items are officially collectable/nostalgic, spurred by the dissolution of Sears, a mainstay for so many for so long. If you'd like, there are plenty of rabbit holes to check out the psychological, socio-political, and historical analysis of nostalgia, collecting, and fashion/trend cycles.
Whatever the true reasons, we still love our Merry Mushrooms. Here are recent high priced sales on eBay that show just how far some collectors will go. Granted, most of these items are quite rare, but it's still amazing to see the prices! Were you one of the lucky winners?
Curtains are always hot items, but this was a complete set of valance, swags, and tiers that sold Buy It Now.
It exists! I gasped seeing this listed and was prepared to bid for the knife block that was only offered in 1983. My heart sank as the price rose above $200, then $300. I didn't see the final price until later that day. Wow!
There are two mills, one coffee (larger) and one pepper (smaller). Though measurements weren't in the description, the cone on top identified this as the pepper mill, available 1982-1983. These do come up for auction from time to time, but this is the highest it's sold for recently.
Drinking glasses are more common place, but this is the complete original set of 24 in the original box.
The Kitchen Secretary, available 1975-1978, also shows up occasionally but, again, this is the highest sold price yet.
This was another one that made me giddy! The Spin Canister, 1971-1972, set is harder to find- if the lid or one container got broken, the whole set would likely be deemed unusable. A complete set with the plastic swivel tray is even rarer.
At work the other day, I found myself thinking about my Merry Mushrooms collection. Yes, it was quiet and no, I don't work as an orthopedic surgeon or firefighter, something that requires intense concentration.
I realized the last thing I found in the wild was the knife from the carving set in late summer 2020. And before that, a set of four 9oz. drinking glasses at Antiques on Pierce in Milwaukee, over two years ago. At the time, I almost passed the glasses up because I felt they were priced too high, at what I remember around $30. Luckily, my husband asked his loving refrain, "Is this something you're going to wish you bought? Are you going to mention it every time we come here if you don't?"
So, it was super exciting to find THIS listed on Facebook Marketplace for $20!
It was located in Madison, Wisconsin- so close yet so far. It was still available and as the seller and I worked out pick up, I got the feeling she wanted it gone ASAP, hesitant to wait until the next weekend. So, on a Monday, I told my husband we're going to Madison the next night. After four hours round-trip, supper in the car plus a special stop a Hy-Vee for a snack, we were home and the proud owners of the 1979-1982 Merry Mushrooms Cheeseboard with Knife.
Now that I had it in my hands, I discovered that what I thought was a round ceramic tile, is really "porcelain enamel metal tile," similar to the metal skillets, Dutch ovens, and saucepans. A small round magnet in the board secures the knife. Turning the board over, there are four rubber feet tacked on and the familiar rectangular gold label which, interestingly, is dated 1977. It was likely designed in 1977 but not available for purchase until two years later. Lastly, the cheese knife is marked "STAINLESS STEEL JAPAN" on one side.
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