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.
Seeing that cheery burst of color, glassmakers hoped, would brighten people’s days a little. To purists, vintage jadeite is generally American-made from one of three major companies: McKee, Jeannette, and Anchor Hocking.
Others still prefer an eclectic look, combining vintage milk glass with Benton or clam broth for a unique mix. While kitchenware is most common, jadeite is also used in lamps, furniture, jewelry, hardware, and more.
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.
APG, or Early American Pressed Glass, existed in the late 1800s to 1915 and created light jade-colored pieces like these two antique sugar shakers. 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 Philby patterns.
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.
Unfortunately for newer collectors, a lot of Jeannette Jadeite is unmarked, so knowing what to look for is key and only comes with studying and time. Jeannette made Jadeite spice jars and vintage shakers as well as common kitchenware.
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.
Some collectors love the history of it, how it was literally designed to make people happy. Some love the nostalgia it inspires, bringing back childhood in the 1950s and reminding them of the past.
There’s just something so attractive about its milky green color, whether used to serve food or set off as home decor. Several collectors get a kick out of (and long to return to) vintage jadeite ’s clever marketing tactics.
For example, one measuring cup might be inside a bag of flour, enticing someone to complete the whole set. While promotional pieces were given away for free, these days they’re highly collectible and can go for thousands of dollars, depending on the price, maker, and overall condition.
Photo by Jo-Ann.More jadeite promotional pieces to market a radio & electric company. While neither fake nor fantasy are considered authentic vintage jadeite (from a purist’s standpoint), there are key differences among them.
Fake or “faux” is what some collectors call reproduced or “retro,” anything made in 2000 or newer, whether in the U.S.A. or overseas. These Martha by Mail jadeite cake stands look great, which makes some collectors scoff at the idea of only acquiring vintage.
Clam broth is a more translucent green glass found in both vintage and contemporary designs. Clearly it looks different from the opaque look of milk glass made by McKee, Jeannette or Anchor Hocking.
Prior to World War II it wasn’t unusual to use uranium in dishware and other household items. When the war started they needed uranium for weaponry, so companies that came later, like Anchor Hocking, couldn’t use it.
If you can afford it, buying the famous Keller and Ross book, Jadeite: Identification and Price Guide, aka “the Bible” in collecting circles is the definitive guide to identifying makers, pieces, patterns, and value. Lurking on sites like eBay and Etsy to learn, rather than buy, is also a good way to get exposed to different pieces.
Antique malls often label items, so soak up knowledge and take notes while you browse. Generally people enjoy talking about their collections, have read up on the subject, and are more than willing to pass along what they know.
It is not to be confused with jadeite, a green jade shade of Vaseline glass product made in the early 20th century. The Jadeite Fire King” brand was first produced by the United States glassware firm Anchor Hocking in the 1940s.
Fire King Jadeite is still produced in reproduction lines by Anchor Hocking, which designs variations into its reproductions so that they are not mistaken for originals, to maintain the integrity of the genuine status of original Jadeite articles. Jeannette Glassware was a United States manufacturer of green milk glass tableware similar in appearance to Jadeite Fire King.
Kitchenware in other materials, such as aluminum canisters and bread containers, were produced in the mid-20th century in the same shade of Jadeite green, to match the glassware. I’ve made my share of bad Jadeite purchases.
I would get so excited to actually find a piece of it, I didn’t do a thorough check to make sure it was in good shape. As I have now learned, if you are looking into buying a piece of Jadeite or Jade-ite glassware, it is always important to check the quality before you make your purchase.
Any damage and/or wear can play a major part in the value and collegiality of the item, not to mention how it looks on your shelf. Vintage Jadeite was originally meant to be an inexpensive, every day glassware, so the quality can really vary between pieces.
Also, because it is an older style glassware, there could be signs of wear from use over time. Making sure to avoid certain types of damage, wear or flaws will always give you more bang for your buck and make sure you’re investing in a quality piece of glass and not some sad buyers' remorse.
Today I’m sharing the 6 things to avoid when buying jadeite glass, complete with some examples from my own collection. Generally if there is an issue, you will feel the rough surface and/or your fingernail will catch on any chips.
Below is an example of a pretty significant chip found on the rim of this scalloped flower pot. Some online sellers, however, may call any chip a flea bite.
It’s often hard to find some Jadeite glassware that doesn’t have some type of flea bite on the edge. I commonly find them on canister lips and lids, because this is the area that got the most use.
You’ll see this more commonly on the inside of mixing bowls or on the top surface of dining plates. When purchasing Jadeite, always look for items with high-shine and avoid pieces with a dull, scuffed or scratched surface.
If the printing isn’t clear, this can lower the value of the Jadeite item. This means it didn’t go through a ton of quality checks before it made it on to the market.
With that, comes a handful of common manufacturing flaws caused by the mold or firing process. Though they may not always affect value, some manufacturing flaws do play a part in the aesthetic appeal of a piece of glass.
White marks You can often find these on pieces, but they aren’t deal breakers. Generally they are also just flaws in the glassware when they were made and don’t affect the quality or durability.
However, the white marks may affect the visual aesthetic, especially if you plan to use these for display. Depending on where they are, the size and amount of them, they could bring the price down slightly.
Straw Marks & Ripples These are irregularities that appear on the surface of the item during the cooling process and are a pretty common occurrence. With this list of 6 things to avoid when buying Jadeite glass, you’ll now know how to spot and to avoid damage, wear and flaws to make the most informed purchases.