03 April 2011

I Might Need An Intervention

I need to buy a video camera for my dissertation research. So Friday, I set out to see what was available in the wider world of Bloomington and happened to stop into the Goodwill on the far side (at least from where I live) of town. I was talking with my aunt on the phone when I happened across the silverware section and audibly gasped. 

"What?! What?! Are you okay?! What happened?!" 

I was inaudible for a moment, overcome with the stack of Oneida Twin Star flatware that lay before me. There were spoons, large and small, and knives and - blessed be my heart! - forks! It was one of those finds that you dream about when you are collecting starburst silverware. Twin Star! For 20 cents a piece!

"Um... I just hit the motherlode of starburst silverware. You're going to have to talk louder. This might be a while."  

I started gathering starburst silverware toward the end of the summer. I was in a thrift store in Michigan with the same aunt who was on the phone when I happened upon the silverware and began casually going through it. I had dabbled with the idea of collecting Oneida Twin Star right after college, when the now-defunct Betty Crocker catalog resurrected the pattern for exclusive sale through that particular venue. Within a few weeks, the Betty Crocker catalog was no more and I hadn't thought about the pattern much since. Going through that tray of silverware, I became smitten all over again and not just with Twin Star. It seems there was a wide variety of starburst designs and I quickly found a spot on the floor and began sorting out the silverware. My aunt, she has patience. 

Having gathered about twenty pieces that first outing, a bit of an obsession was born. I began haunting the silverware bins at the local thrift stores, hoping I would find those familiar little stars. Some days, I would find just a piece or two - mostly butter knives and spoons, very rarely forks. Other times, I would find a multitude of pieces, close to thirty pieces - including forks! - of a Mar-Crest starburst pattern at a Goodwill in Springfield, IL. When I was driving home for the holidays, I stopped at Goodwill stores along the way and collected over fifty pieces. That's the thing about flatware: it's cheap and the ideal thing to thrift for when on the road due to it's portability. 

So far, I've collected twenty-eight different designs. For quite a few of them, I only have butter knives, but it sounds impressive, no? I love the idea of setting a table with mixed-and-matched sets, cohesive in the midcentury modern starburst fabulousness. There are still designs out there I would love to stumble upon (like this!), but isn't it all about the thrill of the hunt and the serendipitous finds of the thrift store? 

I took some time last night to identify as many of the patterns as I could. They're noted in the photos over on Flickr, should you be interested. 


  1. I have one spoon with a starburst design (matches the one you have furthest to the left) that was a hand-me-down with the other silverware (stainless-ware?) I inherited from my parents. I love it, though I've always wished that I had some sort of theme to my table-settings... Happy collecting!

  2. Wow! That's a lot of silverware! You could not do dishes for WEEKS and still have clean silverware! You know, if you're going through a lazy period...

  3. I ran across this post while trying to identify a mess of starburst flatware I acquired from local thrift shops as well. I ended up with 7 different patterns and am going googly-eyed from trying to identify them all! I have always loved starburst flatware but had NO CLUE there were so many patterns! Yikes!

    1. Hopefully, you saw the note about Flickr - I've done my best to identify all the patterns I've found thus far, though I've collected a few more patterns in the meantime and need to update the list... yikes. Happy collecting!