Speaking of Antiquing – February 2017
Jadeite is striking in its beauty and durable in its functionality. Jadeite is a type of glass tableware made of Jade-green, opaque milk glass, popular in the mid-20th century. Sometimes dubbed the colorful “Pyrex of its day,” Jadeite was used for baking, food preparation, food storage, and table use.
Jadeite is the general term of any opaque green glass by any maker. Jade-ite is Anchor Hocking’s Fire-King brand name.
Jadeite has always been very popular with homemakers, as it gave a country-kitchen charm. The glass was thick and did not chip easily, was inexpensive, and sometimes free. It was given as premiums in flour or cereal boxes. It was mass produced and much of the original product remains in excellent condition. It’s also easy to find and makes collecting enjoyable.
Jadeite made a resurgance in popularity when Martha Stewart used it as her signature display feature on her television show. Her collection was so vast and varied that it spurned a new generation of collectors.
Jadeite has been reproduced en-mass, so knowing how to spot the difference in quality is useful. Some original Jadeite pieces were unmarked, but most was marked. Fire-King, Fenton, McKee, and Jeannette were the most prolific makers of Jadeite and each carried a signature mark. Fire-King also produced heavier dishes for institutions and restaurants. Today, new Jadeite is made in China and is largely unmarked.
The color of old Jadeite is irregular and may have bubbles or other defects in the glass. The old, green color may vary from maker to maker, but if it is not light, milky jade green, it is not Jadeite. The new Jadeite quality controls give the color and texture of the glass more uniformness, and defects are rarely found. New Jadeite will have more obvious seam lines.
New Jadeite is also heavier and sometimes larger. Older dinner plates were 10”, the new Made in China plate is 10 ½”. The rolling pins are two inches longer, range-ware shakers are about the same size but can be told apart by the new having a more defined neck and shinier top.
Counter jars, marked for flour, tea, sugar, coffee, or salt, with lids, are highly sought-after.
Shaker jars for sugar, salt and pepper, or other named spices, with their lettering intact and their screw-on lids firmly in-place, sell whenever we have them in stock.
Food storage containers, with flat lids for stacking, are still found but are not inexpensive, especially larger ones. A cake stand, plain or scalloped, will be hard to find but very fun to use any time of year.
I recommend not putting your Jadeite in the dishwasher or microwave as the lettering can be damaged and remember that new Jadeite will shatter in the microwave. I always say, “If you have it, use it! And don’t be afraid of breaking it… it lasted this long!”