With its origins dating back to the 1930s, jadeite glassware began its mass production through the McKee Glass Co. in Pennsylvania. Their introduction of the Skokie green & Jade kitchenware lines ushered in our fascination with this jade color. Glassmakers catered jadeite to the American public as an inexpensive alternative to earthenware soon after the Depression, both for the home and for its use in restaurants. The Jeanette Glass Company and Anchor Hocking introduced their own patterns and styles, which for many collectors, produced some of the most sought after pieces. Companies marketed this beautiful glass under the monikers of “jadite”, “jadeite”, “jade glass”, “jad-ite”, “jade-ite”, so however you want to spell it, let it draw you in for a closer look. If you want a thorough history of the origins of jadeite, collectors’ pricing, patterns & shapes (don’t forget the reproductions in 2000), I highly suggest picking up the book by Joe Keller & David Ross called, Jadeite: An Identification & Price Guide.
A Beautiful Jadeite Collection
From the private collection of Nick Stein.
Collecting jadeite is a passion for many. People adore the soft green hue of this glass to no end and are devoted to collecting it for their homes. There are collectors who will tell you that they only collect one pattern of jadeite and are dedicated to getting as much of it as they can. Then there are those of us who don’t mind having a mix of patterns & styles or even a mix of old & new.
Vintage & Contemporary Jadeite
From the private collection of Clay & George.
I happen to love it because green has always been my favorite color, and because I love the way it looks in my kitchen & on my dining table. My only problem is that I don’t allocate more time & energy into collecting jadeite the way I should. I do own several pieces, both vintage Fire King & Martha by Mail reproductions that I adore and use on a monthly basis, but really & truly, I wish I had a whole kitchen stocked with this wonderful glass like some of my friends do.
Fire King Restaurant Ware & Martha by Mail Jadeite
From my private collection.
Whether you collect it by the dozens or own a few pieces that you cherish, jadeite is forever woven into the fabric of this country.
Martha Stewart's Westport Television Studios.
One cannot talk about jadeite, of course, without mentioning Martha Stewart. It was because of Martha’s passion for this glassware that many of us were reminded and reintroduced to its many beautiful qualities. Gracing her former Westport Television Studios, the glassware became a fixture on many programs and in her magazine throughout the years. People took note. With her commissions from several glassmakers (Fenton, & L.E. Smith) to reproduce certain pieces for Martha by Mail, many of us were able to begin our contemporary collections of this beautiful green glass.
Incidentally, the former catalog marketed the glass as “Martha’s Green Glass”. It’s no surprise that a few of my friends have begun their collections as a result of this and, if you must know, they have become formidable collectors.
I recently asked some of them if they would supply me with a few photographs of their beautiful collections for Good Things by David, and naturally, they agreed. Thank You, Clay, George, Nick & Matt for contributing your images and allowing us to enter your homes here on the blog. It’s so nice to find like-minded individuals who share a passion for collecting, and who mix & match the vintage jadeite with the contemporary jadeite in their everyday lives.
Clay & George are two good friends of mine who reside in Colorado. Their home is devoted to nothing but good things, and it is because of this that I asked them to share some of their jadeite collection with us.
"I'm pretty sure the jug (or jugs, I have two) are reproductions. They're not stamped underneath, and although I suppose it's possible that I stumbled upon a treasure, it's unlikely. Though I love them just the same."
I asked Clay how he started collecting this glassware.
“I had seen jadeite on Martha Stewart Living for some time, but I never gave it too much thought until I was on marthastewart.com one day, and there was an advertisement for a sale in the catalog section. The ad had the three jadeite hobnail cake stands in graduated sizes all stacked up, and I thought it was beautiful, so I bought it on the spot, had them all gift wrapped and rush delivered to me. From then, I started buying much more from the catalog, and looking through antique stores and ebay to find new things.”
Martha Stewart Signature Jadeite Chandelier
“ ....so as much as I like to collect things (and even though some are quite costly) I always use them in everyday life. I don't really see any reason to have beautiful things if they're just going to be locked away or hidden under slipcovers.”
Mixing & matching jadeite with fine china.
“It's hard to say what my favorite pieces are. But I always prefer restaurant ware to the other Fire King patterns. I don't cook much, so I'm not even sure that I define 'useful' like most people would. But if something is beautiful and you enjoy seeing it every day, then I guess that's pretty useful.”
My friend Nick Stein is a college student in California who is amassing a large collection of jadeite. It's astonishing to see how passionate he is about collecting. Have a look at his treasured glassware.
"My jadeite collection is a little over two years old. Like many collectors out there, Martha was the reason I began this insatiable hunt for green glass. Seeing her collections in the Westport studio cabinets and old editions of Living magazine (Spring '92 especially) really inspired me. Once I had one piece I became obsessed! I love how functional it is and yet it retains that vintage beauty of simpler times. Since then I have collected pieces from many sources, friends gave me some they had in their homes for decades and I bought many from antique stores and garage sales!"
"My #1 favorite piece is the handled soup cup. It is exceptionally rare and was given to me selflessly by a very dear friend. I've never seen another one like it, and the Keller/Ross jadeite guide book values it at nearly $1,000. Imagine! It's such a humble and unique piece and I know I will always treasure it."
"I definitely display my jadeite proudly, but using it is most fun for me. As you can see in these photos, I use them to hold many things. Oats, my favorite brand of teas, fresh coffee and sugar which I use every day!"
"These canisters are some of the older jadeite out there. The square ones were made by the Jeannette company in the 30's and 40's. Like most jadeite, they all vary in color and mold imperfections, but I think this just adds so much to the appeal, every piece is unique! The large canisters are 48oz and came in Coffee, Sugar, Flour, Tea, Salt, and Cereal. The flour and salt canisters are exceptionally rare and I've never seen one of either. The large lids feature a pretty flower pattern on the underside of the lids, a fact which Martha herself hadn't even noticed until talking to a collector named David Ross (click here for a video) The smaller tall canisters are 29oz and came in Flour, Coffee, Tea and Cereal."
Matt Gallaway is another friend of mine who blogs about "Good Things" in his spare time. He has been collecting jadeite for a number of years and loves to use it on a weekly basis.
"The swirl bowls in these pictures I use all the time, and were one of my first purchases. I was inspired to start collecting by Martha, of course. I had a bit of a retro vibe going on in my early decorating days, and jadeite fit right in...and it was still inexpensive! I could still even find things at thrift stores for a quarter in the mid to late nineties."
"The cups and coffee mugs and saucers (the most plentiful thing in the world, and always inexpensive since people don't want a saucer without a cup. I use them for dessert plates) and most of the bowls and lunch and dinner plates I have are all considered Restaurant Ware."
"That last little cup and swirl saucer is my favorite, although I think they are a married pair and not original together."
"The swirl vegetable bowl was the very first thing I ever purchased that was jadeite, from a church thrift shop. There is a pencil mark on it that I have never been able to get off."
"The ashtray is one of the last things I've purchased. I just thought it was so strange, yet so "1950's kitchen table". I used it to hold ground pepper on a table once to see if people would think it was full of ashes."
Enjoy Collecting Jadeite!