I have a fetish for housewares from the PRL era. Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa was this not-looked-back-upon-with-fondness years from 1952-1989 when Poland went by the name of the People’s Republic of Poland. PRL is what the locals use to refer to the Cold War period.
Under stifling state control and restricted access to the outside world, product designers were in some sense locked in a bubble. Coupled with limited resources, the outcomes ranged from kitschy to quirky. After 1989, Poles rushed to embrace Villeroy & Boch and Made-Yesterday-in-China IKEA plates and mugs. However, in the last decade, more folks are rediscovering the charm of PRL tableware. Cool commie-wares are no longer easy finds and dirt cheap, but it’s still possible to chance on some good deals.
Where to find them?:
Allegro.pl, the Polish version of ebay, has a section devoted to PRL glass mugs, knives, etc. Factor in the delivery cost, it’s not always a bargain. Sometimes, the goods are rather beat up, too. Occasionally, there are gems like this plate that depicts a dobronocka (cartoons aired on TV as a goodnight story) scene. I can’t remember how much it cost.
The Koło Market (Warsaw. On weekends from dawn to whenever the traders have had enough). Be there very early. Traders here are of the harden variety and will not relinquish the goods for low-low prices. My very first visit was some 7 years ago with a veteran Koło-hunter who helped me get a special price for this Made-in-GDR teapot (20zł/5 euros).
The Olimpia Bazaar (Warsaw. On Sundays from dawn). It’s a nightmare for control freaks – there’s no orderly conduct here. Traders set up camp wherever they can find a patch on the muddy ground. Here’s what I hauled home last Sunday, for all of 8 zł/2 euros.