Sunday, February 24, 2008

The origin of mass produced Jadeite (or some spell it Jadite; either is correct) can be traced back to 1930 with the McKee Glass Company. McKee's introduction of jade kichenware and dinnerware marks the first large-scale attempt to introduce jadeite.

Following McKee's introduction of colored kitchenware and dinnerware (most famous of the jade colored dinnerware, the 'Laurel' pattern) the Jeannette Glass Company began producing a similar line in 1932. Much like McKee's line, the Jeannette glass line included canisters, shakers, storage dishes and mixing bowls. Jeannette produced no dinnerware pieces and continued to produce kitchenware pieces through the 40's and 50's.

The vast majority of jadeite dinnerware was made from 1945-1975 by Anchor Hocking under their Fire-king division. Today, Fire-king jadeite is the most collected of the three manufacturers. While McKee and Jeannette pieces are more rare and bring in a higher dollar value, the Fire-king color of jadeite is what most have come to know and love.

In the mid 1940's, Fire-king introduced several dinnerware lines including Alice, Jane Ray (the most popular and available), and Restaurant Ware. Jane Ray and Restaurant Ware were complete lines; one being introduced for retail consumption and the other for commercial uses. Both were very successful and stayed in production for over 20 years.

In the late 40's and 50's, many kitchen and household items were made in jadeite by the Fire-king division including vases, refrigerator dishes, pitchers, mixing bowls and 'batter bowls.'

The current popularity of jadeite kitchenware and dinnerware, at least partially must be attributed to Martha Stewart's interest in the glassware. For more than a decade she has featured jadeite in her cookbooks and decorating books. Her magazines have similarly focused on jadeite in the collecting columns. Her nationally syndicated television show at one time featured an entire kitchen stocked full of jadeite. Because of Martha's influence to the collector, jadeite has often been referred to as "Martha Stewart's Green Glass." Martha herself adopted the name "Martha's green glass" when she commissioned several glass companies including Fenton, Mosser and L.E. Smith to create a group of jadeite colored accessory items which included cake stands, salt and pepper shakers, egg cups, dessert cups, etc. to be sold through Martha by Mail.
In 2008 the collector craze for jadeite has slowed somewhat; but jadeite pieces still fetch a high dollar at glassware shows and antique stores. eBay regularly lists over 1,000 items for sale at any given time with higher world market prices.

My own jadeite collection began in 1997 with one small mixing bowl and has grown to well over 2,000 pieces including those produced by Martha Stewart. While initially wanting every jadeite piece in sight, I've scaled back on the collection to focus on specific patterns or lines. With a complete service for 24 in the Jane Ray line (which includes dinner plates, salad plates, side plates, saucers, cups, bowls, berry bowls, and all the accessory items) I have turned my attention to the Restaurant Ware line - which is heavier, and plain. It's a lot harder to come by, (I think primarily because Alexis Stewart has thousands of pieces) but most that is found is in pristine to excellent condition.

My home collection includes pieces from the McKee and Jeannette companies as well, with a collection of jadeite canisters that were gifts to David's Mother for her wedding. This canister set is extremely rare and very costly when purchased retail. I feel so fortunate to have them in my collection.


Elaine said...

You need to write a book about jadeite, Kenn. Thank you for sharing the history and pieces from your personal collection with us. Very inspiring!

Elaine said...

I also love the Trip through the Garden Gallery!

Amy said...

Love the bearded Mr squirrel!!! Those garden pictures look luscious!! Make you look forward to colorful Spring flowers... Also thank you for giving us the information about the history of Jadeite(jadite)!!! Are you still scaling down??? hint,hint!:o) You're so lucky!! Those canisters set look beautiful!!! I'm green(sic) with envious!!!:o)

mike said...

I left your blog rather "jaded".... that I would ever be able to start a collection. Between you and Alexis, what's the point of me starting? :)

Seriously, it's a wonderful achievement - it must bring lots of joy to you (and hopefully David).

Thanks for sharing!!!

Aitch said...

Your collection is beautiful.

I would say that Martha is quite responsible for the popularity of jadeite these days.
I go to depression glass shows as much as possible and the vendors sure charge a lot for it now--and they get it!

Anonymous said...

I think Im going to start collecting Martha by Mail jadeite pieces... :D

Thank you for this Jadeite 101 lesson! It was very helpful and informative!