From its humble beginnings as a giveaway item in boxes of oatmeal and a mainstay of cafes across America, Fire King's Jadeite--also known as Jade-Ite--has become one of the most sought-after collectibles on the antique market. These glass kitchenware items that take their name from the gemstone they resemble have a fascinating history that has made them irresistible to collectors.
The history of Fire King's Jadeite glassware begins with two other glass companies: McKee and Jeanette. McKee Glass began manufacturing the distinctive jade-green-colored glass in the 1930s; soon, another glass company, known as Jeanette Glass Company, also began manufacturing the green glass and is credited for coining its name "Jadeite."
The much larger Anchor-Hocking Company followed suit in the early 1940s, producing green glass items as part of its Fire King line. While Anchor-Hocking produced many colored glass items for the Fire King line of kitchenware for everyday use, the Jadeite variety became most popular. Jadeite was produced by Anchor-Hocking until the 1970s.
Anchor-Hocking's Fire King Jadeite is among the easiest to find of the antique jadeite simply because it was so popular as a promotional or giveaway item. One of the most famous examples is the "Alice" pattern of Fire King Jadeite cups and saucers that were included in canisters of Quaker Oatmeal. A cup or a saucer was included in each canister of Quaker Oatmeal, allowing thrifty homemakers to collect an entire set just by purchasing that kitchen staple, oatmeal. Promotional items made by Fire King Jadeite were also used as service station, movie theater and department store giveaways.
Fire King's Jadeite glass was a staple in cafes and restaurants in the 1940s and 1950s. Prized by restaurant owners for its durability and light weight, not to mention its affordability, Jadeite plates, bowls, saucers and cups were produced by Anchor Hocking as restaurant ware for decades.
All those promotional Fire King Jadeite items whetted the public's appetite for more of these attractive, durable items. In addition to dinnerware, Anchor-Hocking produced an array of kitchenware in the Fire King line, including Jadeite mixing bowls, serving pieces, baking dishes and refrigerator dishes.
Fire King Jadeite is highly collectible, but the span of years in which it was produced when combined with the many different lines means that it is relatively easy to find. However, Jadeite collectors should be aware that reproductions of this famous collectible have flooded the market in recent years. Beginners should invest in a collector's guide in order to learn more about Jadeite before making purchases.
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