Jadite has been around since before the 1930’s, but it wasn’t until 1930 that there was a large scale push to add it to every American home. That year the McKee Glass Company introduced Skokie green and Jade kitchenware and dinnerware. The McKee Glass Company, founded in 1853 as McKee & Brothers Glass works was originally located in Pittsburgh. They moved to Westmoreland County in 1888 and founded a town there. They called it Jeanette, PA-named after Mrs. Jeanette McKee.
By the 1920’s they were busy producing a large variety of industrial and household glass items-including headlamp lenses for automobiles. Their ovenware line, called Glassbake quickly became one of the most popular glassware lines in all of history, and was produced into the 1960’s.
Opalwares was introduced in the 1920’s, followed by Jade Glass around 1930. The colors for the jade glass were inspired by the colors in opals and jade stones. In 1930 and 1931 they introduced a line of opaque kitchenware that included mixing bowls, canisters, refrigerator dishes, shakers and citrus reamers.
This line of kitchenware was what helped McKee survive the tough times of the great depression and all the way through the tough times of World War II. Many of their metal molds were sold to the government during those times, and without thorough records, it is hard to tell when production stopped on many of their kitchenware items. Jadite was developed by the McKee Glass Company in 1930.
In 1932, Jeanette Glass Company began producing a similar line of opaque glassware. Jeanette Glass Company was founded in 1898 and their main focus at the time was producing bottles. In the 1920’s with the advances in technology allowing for automated production, they were able to produce more glassware at lower prices, making them a serious force in the pink and green glassware industry. It also helped them keep prices low enough for people to be able to buy their products during the depression years.
Jeanette was the first company to officially call their opaque green line “Jadite”. Other companies came along copying the line and very subtly changed the name to “Jad-ite”, or “Jade-ite”. In 1936, they introduced another successful line of blue opaque kitchenware called “delfite”. They continued to produce their kitchenware lines into the 1940’s.
In 1951, McKee Glass Company was acquired by Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company-who was later sold to the Jeanette Glass Company. Then the Jeanette Glass Company moved their acquired glass company back to the old McKee glass plant.
You can tell if you have official McKee jadite because most of McKee Jadite is marked with the letters “McK” in a small circle. The Jeanette jadeite for the most part isn’t marked, but some of the earlier pieces have a “J” in a triangle with mold numbers.
Jeanette Glass Company continued producing the Glassbake line as well as the McKee line for many years until the close of the plant in the 1970’s.
Although Jadite was first introduced by McKee, copied by Jeanette, and later sold by Jeanette using McKee molds and technology, the majority of jadite dinnerware was produced and sold by the Anchor Hocking Company from 1945-1975-through their Fire King division. They had a very successful restaurant line in the 1940’s in jadite and other opaque colors. In the late 40’s, early 50’s they began producing and selling their kitchenware line with the same items that were already produced by their predecessors McKee and Jeanette. Most of the Anchor Hocking Fire King jadite is marked with the Fire King logo.
Some of the earliest versions of jadite canisters produced from 1931-1938 are today very scarce and have an estimated value of $175-$1000 each, depending on the design, style and condition. Mixing bowls were first made by McKee, and later produced by both Jeanette and Anchor Hocking and can go for $50-$500 a bowl! The “splash proof” mixing bowls are very rare and they are valued at $500-$700 each.
I think my interest in jadite was piqued by a co-worker who just loves it. I only have one piece-a rolling pin and it is a reproduction. I’d never be able to afford the real McKee because they are valued at $850-$1000 each! Although it is more of a pastel color, and I’m a bright Fiesta color kind of girl, I do enjoy Jadite…I just don’t think I’ll be collecting very much of it-maybe a piece here and a piece there as the fancy strikes me. You can bet if I find refrigerator dishes with lids, grease jars with lids, cake pedestals or covered butter dishes (in my el-cheap-o price range), I’ll be snatching them up! Not so much for the value (although that can make it more desireable), but because those are the kitchenware items I like best.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Jadite as much as I did! I think I’m going to research Melmac and plastic kitchenware next as that seems to be popping up all over lately too!