I love it when I find a large collection of something at an estate sale! In this case, it was vintage hammered aluminum serving peices from the post WWII era. Popular during the late 1940s through the early 1960s, most baby boomers will remember these trays as something their mothers used when entertaining.
Made in the USA by a number of different companies, many of the pieces have embossed patterns and hammered surfaces adding texture. I love the variety of edge styles: scalloped, beaded, sawtooth, ruffled….
You’ll also find a wide variety of different handle styles. The round serving tray with the chunky handle below is one of my favorite.
Look at the details on this casserole lid.
This vintage collectible is generally inexpensive and can often be found at thrift shops and garage sales. And at FOUND right now! Avoid pieces that are pitted or badly scratched, but most old pieces can be easily cleaned. Sometimes gunk accumulates in the recesses – an old toothbrush and mild dish soap will remove it. If you find aluminum ware that needs more than soap and water cleaning, here’s an easy solution:
Make a paste of ¼ cup baking soda and ½ cup lemon juice. Apply to aluminum with a sponge or old toothbrush. Rub gently to clean. Rinse in warm water and dry thoroghly with a soft cloth. (note: this solution will make the surface shiny – so if you prefer the darker patina, don’t use lemon juice)
It’s important not to use harsh abbrasives, as aluminum will scratch. Also, don’t put it in the dishwasher.
Since tiered stands and lazy susan styles with pedestal bases were often made, you could create a very interesting dessert or buffet table by mixing simple white dishes with vintage aluminum serving peices.
If you’d like to know more about this midcentury collectible, this about.com article included some good references.