Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Collecting Jadeite


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.


Jadeite Canisters

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."


My friend, David Bondarchuck, had told me awhile back that he had a set of 14 Martha by Mail jadeite turkey dishes at home.  Naturally I wanted images of them and I finally have some to share with you!

David keeps these jadeite turkeys on top of his kitchen cabinets.

A small army of turkeys.

When Martha by Mail was selling "Martha's Green Glass", the jadeite turkey played a prominent role in their catalog & online advertising.  It's wonderful that David managed to acquire a collection of them. 

You can see the variations in color from turkey to turkey.  The ones in the front have a deeper jade tone to them, as opposed to the ones in the back which have a softer green shade.

A nice collection of Martha by Mail jadeite.  Thank You David!!

Nick's Jadeite


Enjoy Collecting Jadeite!

43 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Such beautiful collections! I only have a jadeite batter bowl that was my great-grandmother's, but I've often thought about collecting restaurant ware. Several of the more contemporary pieces are also quite beautiful, particularly the hobnail serving piece photographed. WOW.

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  4. I know what you mean Christine. I really should begin a more serious collection, but I'm happy with what I have. Cherish that batter bowl!

    David

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  5. Saw a batter bowl in a thrift shop once, was tempted to buy it, but $16 price tag deterred me as well as the Made in China sticker. I figured it was a reproduction, and I had no idea how much to expect to pay for green milk glass. A nearby antiques mall charges $14 to $20 for plates marked McKee or FK, but as I'm no expert, I left them alone. Are those considered fair prices in today's market?

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  6. The Made in China reproductions, from what I've read, are not well made pieces. Personally, if you want to start a jadeite collection of quality pieces, I would collect the vintage or even the reproductions produced for Martha by Mail through Fenton, L.E.Smith glass. Mosser also reproduced jadeite cake stands which are high quality, made in the USA glass.

    $14 to $20 for a jadeite plate doesn't seem like a high price--pretty fair. Now, are these dinner plates or dessert plates? Also, what pattern are you looking at? Restaurant Ware will command higher prices, so look to see if the antique store can identify them for you if you're unsure.

    Enjoy collecting!

    David

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  7. Hi! I found your blog as I was researching about Jadeite!
    I myself have started collecting and posted my jadeite collecting adventure at my blog : Confessions of a Jadeite-a-holic. Jo-deite.blogspot.com

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  8. Jo, I'm going to have to look at your blog in just a second! Thanks for the heads up.

    David

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  9. I think you might be interested in seeing my collection. I have over 2,000 pieces. Do you have an email where I can forward you some pictures

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  10. send me images to goodthingsbydavid@gmail.com

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  11. Great post. I've been collecting vintage pyrex for a while but just bought a couple of jadeite pieces. A mixer bowl that was pretty inexpensive (not in great shape) and a couple of swirled mixing bowls. Mostly it's a little too expensive for me.

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  12. Gale,

    Collecting jadeite can be expensive if you go with the Restaurant line. However, there are other lines which go for less money. I think that's why many of us these days, collect a few pieces at a time.

    How nice that you collect Pyrex! I've always liked Pyrex because it is well made and so beautiful. I almost feel like a kitchen is not complete without some of it.

    Enjoy your glassware!

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  13. What a FANTASTIC post! I began collecting Jadeite ONLY after Martha reintroduced me to it through her television show... After seeing it featured in her magazine too, I was on a guest to acquire as much as I could, as quickly as I could!!

    Although I did quite well (had just about every piece of restaurantware!) I ended up selling all of my pieces after becoming frustrated by the realization that my collection would never really ever be complete. I still miss it and often, I am tempted to begin collecting again. Seeing Nick's collection and knowing it is only two years old gives me hope that I could perhaps do better this time around.

    We Jadeite fanatics all have the same sweet dream... To walk into an old diner somewhere that was last touched in the late 40's and to be invited to take as much as we can carry with us out the door!

    A girl can dream, can't she?

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  14. Hey, Janet!

    A guy can dream too!!! Haha, I would love it if someday that were to happen to me. Although I've collected quite a number of pieces of jadeite, I still want to get some of the containers and bowls. I don't know if I would ever want to have a complete set of these since I like mixing and matching, but I do like to have multiples of things.

    I can't imagine how on earth you ever parted with the jadeite you used to have. It's amazing that one can give it up cold turkey like that!!

    They'd have to lock me up in order to have me part with the pieces I own! :)

    xoxo,
    David

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  15. What a lovely post!!

    I started collecting jadite and maybe went slightly overboard, I have since sold some of it to make room for other collections. I now have a small collection that I enjoy using often. I also saved my copies of Martha by Mail catalogs because I loved the jadite photos in them. I love the flock of turkeys!

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  16. Bernie, I completely understand how collecting this marvelous green glass can quickly become a passion. I find myself to be a 'newbie' when it comes to it, even though I've had some pieces for several years. It wasn't until I wrote this post that I sparked the interest in collecting more of it.

    Aren't those turkeys marvelous?

    Enjoy what you have and enjoy collecting!

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  17. Thanks for posting about your collection of jadeite! 2 questions:

    1. Have you found that the restaurant ware is more heat resistant (because it is thicker)?

    2. Have you seen/heard about Martha by Mail's pink milk glass flatware? I have found it VERY hard to find, even on ebay. I would love to start collecting it, and any advice you could give would be much appreciated!

    Thank you!!

    Christina

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  18. I have a few pieces. I believe they are real, one has a J in a triangle on the bottom and 2115-4. I have the Salt, Pepper, Tea, Flour canisters and a juicer. I'm going to sell them, do you suggest eBay or antique shop? I want to get the most for it obviously but I'm not sure what to do as I am not a collector. My mother-in-law gave it to me 15 years ago. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks :)

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  19. Amy, try both antique shops & ebay. An antique shop will probably ask for a percentage off the sale price, so your best bet is to do ebay.

    Good luck!

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  20. Do you know if Chalet Glass ever made jadeite pieces? I have a beautiful glass basket in a style I would guess is Fenton or Chalet however it is unmarked. The handle is clear glass in a serpentine pattern and the basket itself is jadeite. I have not found an example like this anywhere. I figured it was probably Fenton but something on the internet last night made me think it could possibly be a rare Chalet piece. Unfortunately the piece is unmarked. I have a number of pictures if you are interested. Thanks!

    John

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  21. John,

    It's fascinating that you have such a piece! Please send me photographs of your basket so that I can investigate it further. I did get your email.

    Many Thanks,
    David

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  22. I love your jadeite collection. I started collecting but it is so expensive I don't have alot. I have the deviled egg chicken in basket with the egg dish around it. I bought in the 90s when it was at linens n things..I love it. I go to antique stores but too high..any suggestions on where to get. Jadeitelover, donna

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  23. Hey Donna,

    I never knew that Linens N Things carried jadeite at one point. How fascinating!

    Yes, I completely understand your frustration at the prices of jadeite these days. I find certain items beyond my reach at this point and can only hope to stumble upon them at a flea market or something.

    Speaking of which, flea markets, tag sales, garage sales, etc. are your best options for finding good prices on jadeite. Even ebay sometimes has good deals. You just have to sift through everything!

    Antique malls are going to be your worst options for finding good deals on jadeite. It's been my experience that these places inflate their pricing quite a bit.

    Enjoy adding to your collection!

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  24. David thx so much for the updated pics on all these beauties! I have kept my fav pieces and have sold some in the past as well. A few years back anchor hocking the original maker of the jadeite fire king. Brought back on the market some jadeite. I bought several pieces at meijer dept store of all places. A lg batter bowl, 9x13 casserole, 8x8 baking dish and 3 nesting mixing bowls. Then years ago Macy's carried a line of the jadeite color glass ware. Plates, bowls cups and a lg plater. Those are not marked so I don't know who reproduced those? Then I was eating in a local restaurant and Lo and behold there was jadeite green glass ware for sale in the gift shop there. So I bought some salt pepper shakers and canisters there. I have some but not as much as I'd like of Martha by mail jadeite. I miss her catalog so! But anyway. When I see it some where I buy it. I like running across it in the least expected places. Such a nice surprise! We jadeite collectors are a clever crew. So lets keep our eyes peeled and keep this beautiful glass in use! Thx again David for the beautiful pics!

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  25. BTW.... That Ball pitcher is to die for!!!!!!!!

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  26. I have friends who collected the Anchor Hocking reproductions and some have even told me about the jadeite sold at Cracker Barrel. I think the CB jadeite is sold through Rosso glass. I'll have to look it up!

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  27. David go u know who made the jadeite that Macy's sold some years ago? It was just displayed and sold for a very short time.

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  28. Beautiful! I have (very) recently started collecting Jadeite, after realizing how well it coordinates with my new pistachio green Kitchenaid mixer. They did have some jadeite colored pieces at Cracker Barrel. Hens on nests, small bowls, cake stands, and a few other things. They discontinued the line in January of this year, and any pieces that are left are 40% off right now. I passed up a cake stand on Saturday because I was running late and the line was crazy long. I wish I had known then that they were being clearanced out. I called Cracker Barrel's 800 number today, and the nice woman I spoke with told me about the sale. She checked the system for me and said that every store in the corporation is now showing zero stock for the cake stand. :-( There was one other item that I was looking for that she managed to find at a store in Tennessee. I paid her right over the phone, and they are shipping it to my door. I did have to pay shipping, but it was worth it to me. The pieces are no longer on the Cracker Barrel website, but if you live near a CB it might be worth the trip to see if they have anything left.

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  29. @Jerica, feel free to share any photos of your treasures with me. I'd love to see those Cracker Barrel examples. We don't have that franchise here in my area.

    @Coco, I will ask around to see if anyone knows anything about this Macy's jadeite. I've never heard that they even offered any. :)

    Happy Collecting!

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    1. I had some, and it was lost in a move. The bowls were squarish and I loved them. I'd love to find them again.

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  30. Oh Tracie that's heart breaking to loose such a treasure! Fire king had a line that was square. I think it was called charm?? Is that right David? You can find collections in antique shops, auctions, flea markets. I haven't seen any green jadeite charm in a long time tho. Good luck don't give up looking!

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    1. Coco, the square plates are indeed the Charm pattern. Do a quick search on ebay to see if you can locate any. Flea markets and antique shops always have a bit of jadeite. There is always Brimfield in Massachusetts! :)

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  31. I am a jadeite junkie! I remember watching Martha Stewart's show and seeing the green glass in the background, wondering where could I get it. Remember her green and white polka dot mixing bowls. I've been in search for the grill plates and finally found 12 in mint conditioned, never used! I also collect restaurant ware and have plates and cups so far. Still looking for dessert/salad plates. Don't know if there were salad plates back in the day, but I suppose I could use dessert plates as salad plates. David, I love your website and your blog. I come to your site everyday, and have made man recipes. Thank you so much. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

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    1. Teresa, thank you for liking the blog and following! It means everything in the world to me. And yes, I am somewhat of a jadeite junkie myself, although I have so many items that I need to acquire.

      Those polka dot bowls are still not a part of my kitchen!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you Teresa. Enjoy!! :)

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  32. 18 years ago I helped an elderly lady do some cleaning in her garage there was a shoe box with a children's tea set wrapped up in a 1956 newspaper she told me to take it for my kids. I have kept it packed up all these years. Would you know if anyone collects them?

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    1. Anonymous, not knowing which child tea set you have (several were made by various glassworks), I can say that people do collect them.

      Try putting them up on eBay or Etsy. Someone will buy them.

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  33. A dear friend of mine died recently and I have been entrusted to sell his huge jadeite collection. This task is overwhelming me. Can you offer any pointers? His stuff is the foregoing jadeite.

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    1. Well, you can always try selling it on consignment at a consignment shop, or if it's a really large collection, try an antique mall. Check to see if any vendors are selling jadeite, and pick up their business card. You can always inquire to see if they'd be willing to buy from you.

      Look through the yellow pages online for antique vendors/dealers in your area and start making some calls. They might be willing to buy the entire collection. Whether or not you want to sell by the piece or as a lot will be entirely up to you or his estate.

      Also, it might be advantageous to get the entire lot appraised, especially if there are rare and expensive pieces.

      Good luck!

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    2. I am collecting fireking Jadeite. If you are still cosidreing to sell, I would like to buy them.

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  34. Sorry...I sold my whole collection...200 lbs ...of it in excellent condition...I drove it down to Nashville, Tennesse....it was worth it...sorry...thanks for inquiring

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  35. I have a collection of Anchor Hocking Fire King Jade-ite including 8 lunch size plates, 8 small (bread?) plates, 8 custard or fruit plates, 7 cups and 8 saucers. I think they date from the 60's. They are mint condition with no chips.. trying to find out how much they're worth and there is so much info. It's very confusing. I went to an antique shop in MA but they were moving and had no room for any consignment items. They also didn't seem to know much about the glass.

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    1. What I would do if I were you would be to check all "sold" sales on eBay (advance search) for the pieces of Fire King restaurant ware that you have, and base them off of that. That should give you an idea of what those pieces are selling for.

      Good luck!

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    2. Thanks so much!

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