Exploring the History and Collectibility of McKee Jadeite Glass

Exploring the History and Collectibility of McKee Jadeite Glass

Malcolm Ross Hudson

Discover the fascinating story behind McKee Jadeite Glass, a highly prized and collectible opaque green glassware that became a household staple in mid-20th century America. Learn about its origins, characteristics, and enduring popularity among collectors.

The Iconic Jadeite Glass: Origins and Characteristics

Jadeite glass, also known as jadite, is a type of milk glass characterized by its distinctive jade green color and opaque, glossy finish. While its production dates back to the 19th century, it gained significant popularity in the early to mid-20th century, particularly in the United States.

McKee Glass Company: Pioneering Jadeite Glass Production

Founded in 1834 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, McKee Glass Company played a pivotal role in the development and widespread adoption of jadeite glass. In the early 20th century, the company relocated to Jeannette, Pennsylvania, where it continued to innovate in glass manufacturing techniques.

McKee was the first to produce tableware in the iconic jadeite color, marking a significant development in the glassware industry. Their jadeite glass line included a wide range of items such as dinner plates, bowls, cups, saucers, and kitchenware like mixing bowls and refrigerator dishes.

The Rise of Jadeite Glass Popularity

During the 1930s to 1950s, jadeite glass became highly popular, especially during the Great Depression and World War II eras. Its affordability and durability made it a practical and attractive choice for everyday tableware. McKee's jadeite glass was often given away as promotional items by gas stations and grocery stores, further increasing its accessibility and popularity among American households.

Collectibility and Modern-Day Interest

Today, jadeite glass is highly collectible, with pieces from McKee, as well as other manufacturers like Anchor Hocking (Fire-King) and Jeannette Glass Company, being sought after by collectors. The value of jadeite glass varies based on rarity, condition, and manufacturer, with early pieces by McKee being particularly prized.

Due to its popularity, there are many reproductions of jadeite glass on the market, making it essential for collectors to look for specific markers like company logos or mold numbers to verify authenticity.

McKee Glass Company's Legacy

While the production of jadeite glass and other lines eventually ceased as the company changed hands and market demands shifted, McKee Glass Company left a lasting impact on the glassware industry. Its innovations and products, especially jadeite glass, continue to be celebrated and collected by enthusiasts worldwide.

Conclusion

McKee Glass Company holds a significant place in the history of American glassware, particularly for its pioneering production of jadeite glass. This vibrant, jade green opaque glassware became a household staple in the mid-20th century and remains a beloved collectible today, serving as a reminder of a bygone era and the ingenuity of American craftsmanship.

 

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