Recent Rare Pieces Spied Online
In the summer of 2021, there was a rash of rare pieces up for sale on eBay. Listed for either buy-it-now or auction, prices were understandably high for such unicorn pieces, and complete ones at that. Even though yours truly is not the lucky owner of any of these (though members of the Mad for Merry Mushroom Facebook group are), simply finding and analyzing the pictures was thrilling and provided valuable information to add to the collector's guide.
This was exciting to see a complete (to my knowledge) All-Purpose Cooker and in excellent condition. One of the first cookware pieces available in the early 1970s, the cooker had a wood knob which changed to a black plastic knob. That makes this one the later version. The mushroom decal is on the front and back. Sold June 21, 2021.
A recent long weekend found Nate and me thrifting. All weekend. Saturday we went north to Wisconsin's Fox Valley to check out St. Vinnie's in Fond du Lac; Bethesda Thrift Shop, St. Vinnie's, Goodwill, and Neenah Vintage Mall in Neenah; and Bethesda Thrift Shop and Fox Valley Thrift Shoppe in Appleton.
Sunday we went west to Wisconsin's largest antique mall in Columbus, which took all day. Throughout our journey, I was scouring for Merry Mushrooms, but all I found was a napkin holder in Neenah. I already have two, so I left it for someone else to discover. Monday we ended up heading north to St. Vinnie's, Bethesda Thrift Shop, and Goodwill in Sheboygan; St. Vinnie's in Kiel; and St. Vinnie's in Plymouth. We found a couple nice things, but no fungi.
At Goodwill, our third stop of the day, Nate was off looking at movies and I wandered through the crowded home goods aisles, pawing carefully through piles of goods on each shelf. Nearing the last bank of shelving, a swath of golden yellow perched rather precariously atop wire baking racks and muffin tins caught my eye. I thought, "That looks like Merry Mushrooms gold, but what are the chances it is?"
The plain back was facing out and, as I walked past, I gave it the old side-eye as the jaunty parade of Merry Mushrooms revealed itself. I said out loud, "oh my god," grabbed it and, before scurrying to show off my treasure to Nate, wildly looked around for more.
Is it "Mushroom" or "Mushrooms"?
While researching my book, I came to the realization that in the catalogs, our favorite fungi are identified as both Merry Mushrooms, with an "s" and Merry Mushroom, with no "s." Examining original packaging and product labels over the last year wasn't any help in determining the official name of the collection. What gives? Just an oversight by Sears?
My birthday was last month and Facebook decided to share a memory. A mushroom memory, which was a little helpful because I had been trying to figure out when I started collecting. According to my post, I bought the Merry Mushrooms cookie jar to add to my collection back in May 2011. I know by that point, I already had several pieces, including the catalyst for this journey- the smooth canister set that was a Christmas gift from my parents.
So, if you have a couple minutes, come with me on they short journey of Merry Mushrooms Memories. Click on the comment pictures for a larger view.
About five months ago, I dove into the history of microwave cooking and how Sears cashed in on the emerging household technology by offering eleven dishes with the Merry Mushrooms decal. Check it out if you'd like. At the time, I hadn't seen proof that these existed.
Low and behold, back in April 2021 someone posted on The Real Merry Mushroom Collector's Facebook page that they had found the muffin pan and baking ring (Bundt pan) for a steal. How lucky! Then, THIS was listed on eBay in mid-May 2021.
Merry Mushrooms were the brainchild of Jack Buchanan, the Sears Housewares Buyer in the 1970s. In 2013, Jack published a LifeBio booklet, Sears, A True Fairy Tale, about the creation, rise, fall, and rediscovery of Merry Mushrooms. Copies of the booklet are often available on eBay, usually listed as "Sears Merry Mushroom Storybook" and sold by Jack's son, John.
In 2014, Jack himself presented his story at what appears to a LifeBio program at a local library. He was accompanied by some Merry Mushrooms canisters and miniatures. Jack is in now his nineties and still loves talking about Merry Mushrooms!
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?
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!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.