true vintage: collecting and using dansk 



Caveat Emptor is Latin for buyer beware. Like everyone else, there are things I collect and love to use. A lot of times I have a hard time sourcing things locally, so I have to go out onto the Internet to find what I want. But you have to pay attention and research what you are buying.

Dansk Kobenstyle cookware, specifically their Dutch ovens, is one of those things I love . But I only collect the vintage and I only cook with the vintage.  Dansk can also be purchased through William Sonoma and other outlets again now, but in my humble opinion they are just expensive they aren’t necessarily as good as what you can find vintage.
Dansk Kobenstyle Dutch Ovens or covered casseroles were introduced originally in 1955. The Kobenstyle Casserole was originally designed by Jens Quistgaard….in Denmark.  Interiors of pans are white. This is enamelware (enamel coated steel) , so you have to baby it and hand wash it. One of the really cool things of the design of the pot is the lid can be used as a trivet! It’s just fun and practical mid century modern. 
The time during which Dansk was originally produced in Denmark was a mecca for mid century everything from cookware to furniture. (I think some of the furniture of that era can be retro cool, but some of it I don’t care for.) 
My mother also had the Dansk flatware when I was growing up. She also used the Kobenstyle cookware ( Dutch oven and a casserole pan of I recall correctly. ) Simple design with a great weight….and basically indestructible. 
Also note that Dansk was a US company no matter where the items were produced.  Dansk as a line was born out of the Great Neck,  NY garage of a couple named Nierenberg in 1954 after seeing the work of Jens Quistgaard at what is known today as the Danish Museum of Art and Design. Eventually Dansk corporate headquarters to Mt. Kisco, NY in the mid 1960s.


I don’t  like things from the entire line but I do love the Dutch Ovens and stock pots. For example, some people swear by the rectangular casseroles, and I hate them as everything sticks all the time. I had at one time a casserole and small sauce pans but I got rid of them.
Dansk originally appeared in Neiman Marcus ads in 1955. At Christmas time. These items were originally produced in Denmark. The pans were first produced in turquoise, red, and yellow. There was also a bright green color which was pretty awful,  but it didn’t last and was discontinued after year I think.
I have attached some photos of the vintage logos for Dansk. You will notice one says “Made in France”. That is because in 1965 production moved from Denmark to France.
What I collect and use, are all basically from the years 1965 through 1975. I can date my pots from their colors. White ( circa 1971-1973), Brown ( circa 1975), and Sun Gold Yellow (circa 1965)
In my opinion at the end of the 1970s, Dansk sort of faded from popularity with a lot of their line until it was reintroduced in 2012.  And it was sold as a line in 1985  and then acquired by another company around 1991 and then again in 2009. 
The Kobenstyle pans today are made in Thailand, and the bottom on the newer pots introduced in 2012 through to today are also slightly different (not just because the bottom is black, as the ones manufactured in France sometimes have black bottoms). I have looked at them in stores and the weight is slightly different and I just don’t like them as well. They have also tweaked the design in some cases which makes them look slightly like cartoon pots to me. So I continue to use the vintage versions of the Dutch ovens/stockpots .
I use these Dutch ovens regularly and eventually I wear them out. Which means I start looking for other vintage Dansk to replace them with. I like to do this before my Dutch ovens don’t have enough of a resale life in them. While I use mine, a lot of people just buy them for display and I have resold some of mine that way.
I have found the vintage Kobenstyle everywhere, but it is easiest to find on eBay and Etsy. So as a result, I was looking on Etsy the other day.
I saw a listing. It was what was described as a vintage Dansk. It’s not. And I knew it as soon as I saw the photo of the bottom of the pan. There was a very modern Dansk logo and “made in Thailand”. That’s not vintage anything,  that’s current to within a couple of years. Even the handles were not the traditional style for the vintage Kobenstyle Dutch ovens or stockpots. (Dansk is now owned by the company that owns Lenox. And don’t get me started on Lenox because while true vintage Lenox is divine, modern Lenox? Not so much.)

I contacted the owner of the Etsy shop to let them know what they actually had for sale. I have noticed on eBay and Etsy that most sellers enjoy getting additional information on what they are selling because quite frankly it helps them sell items quicker. Not everyone can know everything – some people just know certain kinds of items better than others. It’s why you will see so many antique and vintage dealers specializing in specific things.
The owner of the Etsy shop came back to me with the reply “What is your point?” and some other rather rude comments I won’t share. (I am also doing the store owner a favor and not outing them. Everyone can make a mistake.)
Guess my point to the store owner was that I was trying to be helpful.  She left her listing to stand with the incorrect description overnight and then removed it.   But she is a seller who has now lost me as a potential customer.  Not because of her mistake, but due to her attitude. And the shame of it is for a modern Dansk reincarnation her pot was ok, but it was definitely not vintage. All she had to do was change the description and she could have even sold it at the same price point she had listed.
The moral of this rather long Aesop fable is to check out your items. Ask questions. If it’s something you collect and the seller doesn’t know something about the item, tell them. To be honest it’s a little bit hard to be an expert on everything vintage, so feel free to tell us what you know about things. It actually is helpful.  And if you run into a seller who strikes a discordant note with you, move onto the next seller.
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