The Most Coveted Gym Equipment You Can Buy? These 60-Year-Old Weight Plates | Gear Patrol

Exploring the appeal of vintage York Barbell plates.

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The Most Coveted Gym Equipment You Can Buy? These 60-Year-Old Weight Plates | Gear Patrol

In fitness, new gearis often the best gear. So you wouldn’t necessarily expect weight plates that are half-a-century-old to be the envy of gym-goers everywhere.

However, thanks to sites like Vintage Weights PGH, a blog dedicated to collecting and restoring vintage equipment, that’s exactly what’s become of “milled-era” weight plates from York Barbell.

“They were made so well and they just hold up,” says Vintage Weights PGH’s founder, Rob. “And they’re very easy to identify,” drawing the eye of not just discerning weightlifters but curious collectors, too.

Milled plates are famous for the signature swirling pattern on the back (see photo above), a characteristic that looks cool and carries its roots in accuracy. From the 1960s to the ’80s, York employed a craftsman-like milling procedure to cut weight and bring each plate into tolerance.

If you’re interested in collecting a set for your own home gym, you’re in luck. These high-quality weights are readily available on the used market, often for $2 per pound (comparable to cast-iron plates from premium brands like Rogue). For a tougher challenge, and deeper wallets, Rob recommends searching for milled change plates — those under 10 pounds used for micro jumps in weight — which go for $5 per pound and up.

Change plates were “normally within tolerance, and because of that, less of them were milled,” he says. “Now that people are looking for these and collecting them, a milled change plate is much more valuable than one that isn’t.”

Beyond distinctive plates, York Barbell carries a legendary lifting legacy. Founded by the “father of world weightlifting,” Bob Hoffman, in 1932, the York County, Pennsylvania-based company supplied barbells to the U.S. military during World War II and has sponsored dozens of national champs and Olympic medalists. (One of its own machinists, Frank Spellman, won middleweight gold at the 1948 London Games.) Today, York’s corporate office is home to the official Weightlifting Hall of Fame and Museum.

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The Most Coveted Gym Equipment You Can Buy? These 60-Year-Old Weight Plates | Gear Patrol

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