First created in the 1930s, jadeite is used for all types of things, but most commonly dishware and kitchenware. It first became popular in the Victorian era, then fell out of style for a time until World War II when glass companies found it could be stylish, plus affordable, to make. While jadeite is a collector’s favorite today, it was meant to be regular, utilitarian dishware for the everyday kitchen. The green color was added to existing glass formulas in order to to add a bit of color to people’s lives during the Depression.
Seeing that cheery burst of color, glass makers hoped, would brighten people’s days a little. 28 oz Jadeite McKee cereal canister, a fabulous find. Photo by Laurie, who posts photos of her collection at @vintagepickerchick on Instagram. To purists, vintage jadeite is generally American-made from one of three major companies: McKee, Jeannette, and Anchor Hocking. Some discerning collectors only collect pieces from one of these three primary companies. Others decide any is fine, vintage or contemporary, as long as it’s made in the USA. Others still prefer an eclectic look, combining vintage milk glass with Fenton or clambroth for a unique mix. What’s great about collecting jadeite is pretty much anything goes.
While kitchenware is most common, jadeite is also used in lamps, furniture, jewelry, hardware, and more. And just as with vintage Pyrex, collectors don’t confine their pieces to the kitchen. They also love to display them in hutches, as well as around the house. Collectors also can get creative with the ubiquitous, and often cheap, jadeite saucers, transforming them into DIY projects, like tiered cake stands, or using them as jewelry trays. Besides its gorgeous green hue, what made jadeite popular during the mid-century as well as now is its durability. Made to withstand high temperatures and built to last, jadeite isn’t just fancy form over function. This durability is one reason it’s stayed fashionable as long as it has, and why you can still find it intact “in the wild” today. EAPG, or Early American Pressed Glass, existed in the late 1800s to 1915 and created light jade-colored pieces like these two antique sugar shakers. Photo by Megan who posts great photos on Instagram as @jadeiteaholic. In 1932 Pennsylvania-based glass company McKee discovered that by adding green glass scraps to their signature milk glass formula, they could create a gorgeous shade of green. They called one shade “Skokie” and the other “Jade” (and later “Jadeite”), both popular collectibles today. Since there was no formal quality control, you’ll find pieces in all shades of green. Vintage McKee range sets and canisters are favorites, as well as the Laurel and Philbe patterns. Having the entire McKee range set is a goal for many collectors. You can tell repros from real sets by the lettering and the condition of the lids. Photo by Jo-Ann Benoit, a collector in Woodstock, Ontario. Jo-Ann is lucky enough to have two McKee Jadeite sets in skokie green. Vintage Jeannette spice canisters are pictured up front, in a slightly different shade of green. In the 1930s, another glass company called Jeannette also put out its version of jadeite they called “Jadite.” Early Jeannette pieces are marked with the letter J in a triangle. Unfortunately for newer collectors, a lot of Jeannette Jadite is unmarked, so knowing what to look for is key and only comes with studying and time. Jeannette made Jadite spice jars and vintage shakers as well as common kitchenware. Anchor Hocking only put out a few ball jugs which might account for their high value. This is a repro ball jug (as most floating out there are), but it still looks pretty good! Photo by Melissa who has a lovely Instagram account at @jadeitejunkie. Later came Anchor Hocking, the glassware company that made Fire-King and still exists today.
Anchor Hocking created its own line called “Jade-ite” (adding the hyphen). The new green glass included Restaurantware, a heavy, hard-to-find collector’s favorite. Popular Fire-King Jade-ite bowls include the beaded mixing bowls and batter bowls, plus their coffee mugs, dishware, butter dishes, and more. Fire-King patterns to look for are Jane Ray, Alice, Charm and Shell. And don’t forget the highly sought after Fire-King Jade-ite ball jug, which first debuted in the 1940s and can go for hundreds of dollars today. The original Fire-King ball jug was made in the patterns Target (also called Bullseye), Manhattan, and Swirl. Anchor Hocking also made a 2000 line (which will one day soon be vintage!).
Newer pieces are made from new molds and are marked Fire-King 2000. The Alice pattern on these Jade-ite dishes is a pretty, feminine design by Fire-King during the 50s and 60s. All collectors have their own reasons for wanting a piece of jadeite.