Learn the difference between old and new jadeite, how to identify valuable vintage pieces and how to find more affordable reproduction pieces.
This post was updated in October 2023.
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If you are new to this blog: Welcome! My name is Anna and I share information on collecting antique/vintage items, refurbishing furniture and making small crafts/projects. The purpose of this blog is to share with you how to use creativity and antiques to make a soulful life. In addition to information here on the blog, you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.
One of my favorite items to collect – both old and new – is jadeite. Its milk glass in a minty green color is so appealing and timeless. It’s also a color that reminds me of spring. It’s also fun to use this vintage collectible around the holidays – especially when paired with the color red.
I am by no means an expert on jadeite. There are plenty of people who know more than me. However, I do have some knowledge of the history, makers, patterns and uses of this collectible. I thought you would find this information useful.
Old and New
So let me start by pointing out the obvious. While there are many vintage pieces of jadeite available, there are some more recent reproductions. I think both are beautiful and functional. While I sell vintage jadeite, I personally collect both vintage and newer jadeite pieces. The reproduction jadeite can be used on a daily basis and I don’t need to worry if they get broken or damaged. However, the vintage jadeite glassware is beautiful to collect and display. It’s also always fun trying to find pieces to add to my collection.
Let’s first talk about old or “vintage” jadeite. There are a number of well known names that produced this vintage collectible:
- Fire King – by Anchor Hocking
- Jeanette Glassware Company
- Mckee Glassware Company
History of Jadeite
Vintage jadeite was produced between the 1930s and the 1970s. The peak point of production was between 1940-1950. During that time, most housewives were looking for affordable everyday dishes that were stylish and charming.
Pre World War II
Initially, in the 1930s, the McKee company added green glass scraps to some of its opaque milk glass and – voila- jadeite as we know it was created.
Understanding the context of the era, helps to clarify why jadeite came about as well as its popularity. Early in the 1930s, America was in the midsts of the great depression. These companies had the ability to mass produce glass dish ware and sell it for a very affordable price. Further, World War II took place between 1939-1945, which meant supplies of pretty much everything was limited. Given the context of what was happening in the world, it is no wonder that these dishes were so popular.
McKee and Jeannette glass company were the first companies to produce jadeite. Anchor Hocking started to produce its Fire King line of jadeite in 1942.
One of the easiest ways to determine if a piece of jadeite is vintage is to look for a stamp on the bottom.
If you look closely, you can see the “Fire King Oven Ware” stamp on the bottom of this creamer.
Country Living Magazine published a comprehensive article about collecting jadeite and they included the image above to help you understand the different stamps/marks on the underside of the dish ware.
The stamp with the “McK” indicates the piece was made by the old McKee glass company.
The stamp with a triangle and “J” indicates the piece was made by Jeanette glass company. Vintage jadeite glassware made by Mckee and Jeanette will glow under a black light. This is one way you can be assured of their authenticity since they were made prior to World War II and the glass contains uranium. I
Post World War II
f you see the stamp “Fire King Oven Glass” it indicates the piece was made by Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation, also known as Anchor Hocking Fire-King. These dishes will not glow when placed under a black light because they were produced after World War II.
Patterns of Jadeite
Since this collectible was in production for a number of decades, there were multiple patterns that were developed. Below is a summary of the more well known and common patterns.
- Restaurant Ware. This was produced in the1940s-1960s. This was sturdy and heavy jadeite pieces that you would expect to see in a Diner.
- Jane Ray. This ribbed design was produced between the 1940s-1960s. The glass is thinner than Restaurant Ware and the ribbed lines are charming.
- Alice. An embossed floral pattern was given away in oatmeal boxes between 1945-1949.
- Charm. These pieces were produced in the 1950s and consist of very retro square shaped plates.
- Sheaves of Wheat. These pieces were embossed with a wheat pattern and were produced between 1957 and 1959.
- Shell. This pattern was first produced in 1965 and was discontinued in the 1970s.
The creamer and sugar set on the second shelf are made in the Jane Ray pattern, while the smaller juicer on the bottom shelf is made in the Shell pattern.
When I am out and about looking for inventory, I am always on the look out for vintage jadeite pieces. That being said, this collectible has grown in popularity in recent years so it can be a challenge to find.
Most Collectible Pieces
The most desirable pieces of jadeite include large canisters that held items like cereal, flour, and coffee. Vintage shakers for flour, salt, and sugar are also sought after. Finally, vintage refrigerator containers – usually rectangular – which were used to store leftovers from meals – are also very collectible. Coffee mugs with a “D” shaped handle are also very collectible as are juice reamers. Sets of vintage salt and pepper shakers are also highly sought after.
These pieces of vintage jadeite were initially sold at local hardware stores, five & dime stores, and grocery stores. Can you imagine buying a piece of jadeite for less than $1.00?
Finding Vintage Jadeite
If you want to find vintage jadeite in a particular pattern – your best bets are to search on Etsy and Ebay. Otherwise, keep your eyes open at yard sales, church sales, flea markets, auctions, antique stores and estate sales. It can be a serious challenge finding all the pieces in a particular style and is a pursuit that can last for years.
I have had the best luck finding vintage jadeite for a reasonable prices at antique shops. My personal vintage jadeite collection is a mix of patterns and styles. I just love collecting this vintage glassware.
The benefit of purchasing jadeite glassware from an antique store or market is that you can ensure a piece is in excellent condition and can ensure it’s an authentic piece.
Given that vintage jadeite pieces are more difficult to find and that the prices have increased in recent years, I love buying new or reproduction jadeite. First, I worry much less about damaging these pieces. Also, it’s so much easier to get complete dining sets – that includes a dinner plate, salad plate and bowl. It’s also easier to acquire those hard to find pieces like cake stands, pitchers or butter dishes. Mosser glass company makes some reproductions of jadeite that are lovely. For example, I have a jadeite cake stand made by Mosser, which is a favorite piece in my collection. Some of the other newer pieces in my collection also include a butter dish and salt & pepper shakers.
I have found the best prices and the best pieces of new jadeite at Walmart. Specifically, in the Ree Drummonds “Pioneer Woman” line of products. I have rounded up some of the new pieces and linked them for you below.
Martha Stewart also produced some jadeite pieces that are really charming. She even created some pieces in a hobnail pattern. I have also seen candlesticks and flower pots in her collection. Having said this, her new jadeite pieces command some high prices.
Joanna Gaines, through her Hearth & Hand line, also created some new jadeite pieces for Target. There are some dessert plates in a square shape that are particularly charming.
I don’t know about you, but I love to use jadeite year-round. It’s so cheerful to use in the spring and I love pairing it with Christmas decor.
If you would like to read more on collecting vintage and antique items – you can check out my posts below.
- Collecting Antique Baskets
- Collecting Vintage Santa Mugs
- Collecting Butter Pats
- Collecting Vintage Flags
Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I would love for you to share any comments you have below. Below are some pieces of jadeite that I found online and if you are a collector, you may be interested in looking at them!