Your wife and I definitely have that in common, Undergrond! It was funny how fast I found out that my shiny new cook set, embarrassingly enough from the product line of a chef I saw on television, was absolutely worthless. You can’t clean them properly without a LOT of gentle washing, and you have to handle/store them very carefully. In my world, that doesn’t work: by nature I’m what my hubby calls a “slammer”: I slam doors, cookware onto surfaces (both the stove and the countertops), utensils onto cookware, etc. The shiny set had to go, and was replaced with a very basic antique cast iron and stainless set that I pieced together. None of them match, they all work perfectly, and with proper care should last me forever. My love of functional antiques grew from there, and is not just limited to the kitchen, either.
My other favorite thing to collect is pre-1940’s Cookbooks and “How-To’s For Housewives”: there is an incredible amount of knowledge to be gained from our fore-Mothers. The best ones are well-worn, and have handwritten notes in the margins with the previous owner’s added-in recipes and tips. I’ve learned SO many skills from these treasures!