Summer Collectibles Series- Collecting Old Thermoses

by | Jun 23, 2022 | Collecting | 8 comments

In this post I share information about collecting old thermoses – estimating their age, where to find them, and how much they cost.

A quick note that this post includes affiliate links and I will receive a commission from items you purchase but at no additional cost to you. I am presenting you with my own opinion and honest review of the information provided. If you want to read the entire disclosure statement, please click HERE.

Overview

This is part of the series on summer collectibles. If you haven’t been following along, there are certain vintage and antique items that are synonymous with summer. So, I have been sharing information about these collectible items over the course of the last several weeks. I give you some background information about the item, such as where it was made, its history, where you can find it and how much it generally costs.

When I think of summer, it brings back memories of eating outdoors, specifically it reminds me of picnics. Picnics at the beach, at the park, at the outdoor concert, or even at a ballpark. Anytime we had a picnic, we always brought a thermos. Are you going hiking? You will need a thermos. Are you going fishing? Pack a lunch and thermos. If you go camping, you need a thermos and s’mores (obviously). Thermoses are an integral part of summer experiences. That’s why today’s post is all about collecting old thermoses.

Collecting Vintage Thermoses

Typically thermoses come to mind when you want to keep a fluid hot – like coffee or soup. However, they can also be used to keep fluids cool – like lemonade or iced tea. This is what makes thermoses so useful in the summer.

Collecting Old Thermoses 1

Above is a small collection of thermoses that I am bringing to Stone Soup Antiques. The age of these thermoses varies so I am going to give you some tips on how to identify them.

Estimating the Age of a Thermos

Thermoses were first produced in the early 1900s. There is a fabulous and in-depth article about the history of thermoses by the Kitchen Kapers. It’s definitely worth a read. The first thermos plant was located in Brooklyn, New York!

Earlier Thermoses will have the following features:

  • Glass lined interior (not plastic or metal)
  • Cork stopper (not a screw on lid)

If you find a thermoses with these two attributes it was likely made in the1950s.

1950s Vintage Thermos

In the image above, you can see the glass lining which was used to hold the liquid contents. You can also see the cork stopper that was used. This thermos is likely from the 1950s because it has both of those features.

You can also tell quite a bit about a thermos if you look at the stamp on the bottom.

Thermos bottom

These stamps will tell you the model and filler number as well as the brand and where the thermos was made. By Googling the model number you can get a better idea when the thermos was made. For example model number 2484 was made between 1953 -1955.

Bottom of vintage thermos

The image above reference thermos bottle 2884 which had a ribbed aluminum body, was a half pint size and was made before 1970.

A collection of thermoses

Thermoses from 1960s-1980s

During this time, thermoses started using plastic liners. The glass liners used previously could be fragile and periodically broke. Although they could be replaced, their fragile nature was problematic. During the 1980s, steel liners were produced with more regularity. There is a fabulous New York Time’s archived article about the evolution of thermos.

Mid Century Thermoses

Colors and Styles

Colors and styles of thermoses is another way to estimate their age. Most metal, red, or blue thermoses tended to be produced mid century. These are the more typical vintage thermoses with stripes . In the 1970s, there was a transition to avocado green, oranges and floral patterns. In the 1980s, thermoses were produced with lunch boxes and included a wide variety of prints, scenes and characters from TV shows and movies.

A collection of thermoses

I have found that those thermoses from the 1950s and 1960s are generally the most popular. Many of them still can be used today. (Just be cautious if you have a thermos with a glass liner). People really like collecting the old plaid patterns and the mid-century patterns.

Of course, the Thermos Company has an extensive history of their products on their website. There are some great photos of old thermoses.

Cost

I love that these old thermoses are still affordable. In most cases, you can buy an old thermos for less than $30. On average, I would say they cost between $15 -$50. Of course, as with any collection, there are those that are priced higher because they are rare and/or are in pristine condition.

I recognize that not everyone lives in close proximity to Ballston Spa, New York where Stone Soup Antiques is located. So, I have linked some old thermoses that I found on Etsy below.

On the whole, old thermoses are fun to collect because they are still fairly easy to find, are still affordable and don’t take up much space.

Summary

Old Thermoses impart a sense of nostalgia when you use them. I love trying to collect all the patterns, styles and sizes.

There is a multitude of patterns to choose from.

You can pin the image above or below if you want to bookmark this post for future reference.

Collecting Old Thermoses 2

I wish you happy hunting on your next antiquing or thrifting trip. May the vintage thermos gods be with you.

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Summer Collectibles Series

If you liked this post about collecting old thermoses, here are some other posts in the same series you may enjoy.

Collecting Vintage Enamelware

Collecting Vintage Enamelware

Collecting Vintage Bottles

Collecting Vintage Bottles

Collecting Vintage Flags
Are you interested in collecting U.S. vintage flags? I will share some tips on traits and qualities to look for when buying an old flag.

Collecting Vintage U.S. Flags

8 Comments

  1. Rachel

    Another lovely post, Anna!! How fun these thermoses are…for using and for decorating with!! The plaid ones are my favorite…I’ve wanted a plaid one or two to use in Christmas decor but have yet to find any. I’ll keep looking!!

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      Rachel! Thank you for reading the post and for commenting! Yes, I too love the plaid thermoses. They are fun to use in the fall too. Nothing like tail gating with a vintage thermos.

      Reply
  2. Susan

    So interesting, I didn’t know the first thermos plant was in Brooklyn, neat! Love the old Thermoses, love the mugs that fit with them, and the whole idea that you can carry several cups of coffee on the go. Thanks for pointing out the stamps on the bottom, and the information that can be gathered from them. Great post.

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      Hi Susan! I was surprised to learn that the first plant was in Brooklyn too! Happy hunting for vintage thermoses!

      Reply
  3. Stacey

    I am loving this series! All of these thermoses are so cool. I definitely want to check and see if I can find some on ETSY – great tip!

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      Thank you so much Stacey! I hope you have a great time “hunting” for your vintage thermoses.

      Reply
  4. CoCo

    Love this post and this series too, Anna! I’ve seen thermoses here and there at some of the outdoor events we go to but I never knew what to actually look for so this has been helpful. I’m definitely on the hunt now! Hugs, CoCo

    Reply
    • Sky Lark House

      You can’t go wrong collecting vintage thermoses! The best part is that you can still use them!! Glad you liked the post Coco. Thank you for commenting.

      Reply

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