Paula Collects: Vintage Jadeite

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Paula Collects: Vintage Jadeite

By Paula Deen Test Kitchen

“The best things in life are free,” rarely seems to apply these days. “Free Wi-Fi” means first spending $4 on a cup of coffee, and “fat free” usually translates to “flavor free.” But in the 1930s, young women scrounged through containers of Quaker Crystal Wedding Oats for a piece of jadeite tableware. You read it right, collectible glassware in the oatmeal. True, it wasn’t totally free, but 24 cents for a tub of oatmeal and a mug comes pretty darn close.

Once a mere giveaway item, jadeite—named for its opaque, pale-green color—sits at the top of the wish list for many of today’s collectors. Paula has long admired its vintage charm and has recently started a jadeite collection of her own. Coffee mugs and cereal bowls, which she uses for heaping scoops of ice cream, are among Paula’s favorite pieces, but a rare batter bowl given to her at Christmas by Food Editor Libbie Summers holds a place of honor in her heart and her kitchen.

It’s not too difficult to build a jadeite collection like Paula’s because the tableware was mass-produced from the 1930s until the early 70s. Vintage pieces can be found by scouring thrift markets, antique stores and yard sales. But it’s important to know what to look for because companies capitalizing on the current demand for all things retro have saturated the market with reproductions.

One reason why it’s good to know your jadeite history.

The glassware initially came into fashion because it was durable and cheap to produce. McKee was the first to manufacture jadeite, but the Jeannette Glass Company is credited for coining the name. However, Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation became its largest producer. In 1942, Anchor Hocking debuted the popular Fire-King line in a variety of colors, but jadeite (or “Jade-ite” as the company calls it) remained in high demand for 30 years.

The stain- and heat-resistant tableware was served in frugal diners across America. Additionally, restaurant owners could save money by serving coffee in thick-rimmed “cheater mugs” that appeared to hold more than they actually did. The simple design of the Anchor Hocking Restaurant Ware was one of the most popular lines produced from 1950 to 1956. Today, Restaurant Ware is also the most collected, in part because of its sheer abundance.

Collectible jadeite pieces come in many forms and, as usual, the hardest to find items fetch the highest prices. Whereas mugs generally sell for around $20, a Fire-King grease jar can run $100. A set of four nesting bowls in mint condition may sell for $200.

A keen eye can tell the difference between vintage jadeite and department store knock-offs. You can identify the maker (and worth) of most pieces by examining the markings on the underside: “McK” in a small circle indicates McKee, and a “J” inside a triangle indicates Jeannette Glass Co.

However collectible, there’s no reason to store jadeite out of reach. Paula prefers putting her pieces to work rather than letting them collect dust. She uses jadeite tableware to transform her dining table into a colorful and inspired springtime setting.

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

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Looking forward to your return.

By Mary Duggan on March 12, 2014

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Thank you so much for being on face book. I love your recipes and also your sons.

By Barbara Robertson on October 20, 2013

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cool

By Anonymous on July 27, 2013

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I am wondering if anyone knows of the best way to sell a collection of Anchor Hocking-Fire King-Jadeite. Please let me know! Thank you! hmherbert@gmail.com

By Hannah Herbert on February 24, 2013

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I have started collecting this for my new kitchen I am also interested in purchasing the collection if you still have it. crazylane7377@gmail.com

By delayne on November 18, 2012

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I would be interested in purchasing. My email is blakesgirl27@yahoo.com

By Belinda on July 09, 2012

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I would like to sell a Fireking collection of heavy Jadeite dinnerware that is over 100 pieces to include dinner plates, bread plates, mugs, and saucers. Where is the best place to sell it?

By EMae Pearson on June 14, 2012

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It was the jadeite from the 30's with uranium. If it glows in the backlight it is, but fire king didn't release it's jadeite till 1942, and is fine.

By Anonymous on May 23, 2012

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I found some jade-ite in Savannah the last time I was there. I was wandering through a flea market and found a box of jade-ite for 50 cents a piece! Quite a find!

By Melissa Nordmann on December 21, 2011

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On ur show with ur BFF bubbles you put oatmeal in pretty heart shaped bowls,,,can u tell me where u got the bowls please, pretty please with sugar on top? I have found some similar that are manufactured in Poland. Are these bowls u used from the same manufacturer n Poland. Polish pottery was the website. If they aren't the same u give me that site and u look at this site polishpottery.com and u will fall in love with these dishes I promise u that. Any who just wanted to purchase the same bowls u had on the oatmeal show with bubbles. So if u can remember I would love to get the manufacturer of those bowls, I await to hear from u and girlfriend I love your cooking and so does my husband, when I put a new recipe at the table,,,he knows they are yours, I am trying to convince him to cook with me, he says he will do that when he sees ur hubby cooking with you,,,lol which I have seen but my man hasn't, Anyway. Girlq Would truly love to hear from u, Love nd best dishes Debbie

By Debbie on December 17, 2011

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Hi Paula! I became aware of jadeite about 4 years ago but not really interested in it until just recently after I remodeled my kitchen. The color is perfect in there! So I already have a few pieces in there and a few collector's guides on the way so I know what to look for. I had the intention of acquiring a complete set of dinnerware to actually use. Then to my dismay I discovered that jadeite, along with most other types of depression glass has uranium in it! Uranium is a radioactive material. I have tried to find out as much as I could about this, but it still comes back to that. Uranium was used in the coloring of vintage and antique glassware! Fiestaware was one of the worst offenders. One can google for more info on this. This really bummed me out! Thanks for listening! Mary

By Mary Roberts on October 25, 2011

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Hi Paula, I love the jadeite collection. I loved the beautiful pale green color. I am starting to collect it too. thanks to you. I have the green vase and enjoy it.

By Elizabeth A. Smith on September 23, 2011

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I like Jadeite too! have some but primarily collect Jewell Tea Autumn Leaf pattern. I love Autumn Leaf! I use mine daily! Especially love the covered casseroles. Still collect it!

By cathy gribbins` on July 23, 2011

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HI Paula, I collect old coffee pots I have a couple glass drip pots some are maid by pryex and some are Silex and on special days I make it in one of them it taste so good,also have a Sunbean stain steel set it's the pot a tray,sugar and creamer we use this most of the time. I my roll top desk it's old the guy that cleaned it for me many years ago said it was over 100 years old but I've never had anyoe look at it.

By Kathleen Marcoux on March 16, 2011

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Hi Paula, I have a compelet service set of the blue Bubble by Fire King.I put it up years ago and said one day I'll have a hutch and display them on it but that has never happened.I also collect old cast iron pans of any kind and I use them all the time they hang on my wall in the kitchen.

By Kathleen Marcoux on March 16, 2011

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Hi Paula, I am a huge fan! Been watching you for years! I have that little jade vase. Got that and decided that I would love to have more jade glass. A cup would be nice. I have to wonder though if it is microwave safe? I could just see someone in my house putting it in the microwave. If you really do see this, I hope you and yours are well and happy! Freddie Bolman Albany, Oregon

By Freddie Bolman on March 16, 2011

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Oh my-that brings back memories. My parents had Jadeite coffee mugs like those in the picture when I was growing up. I had forgotten all about them!

By Jan Chapman on March 11, 2011

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No wonder I can't find Jadite like I used to. I collect Fire King, Jadite, Heisey Glass, anything Longaberger especially Longaberger baskets, Mc Coy pottery and Depression Glass. I dread the thought of moving, which will happen this summer, because I know packing will be a nightmare. I LOVE all my "toys" and use them as much as possible. They look so wonderful on the table.

By D'Arcy Nunn on March 08, 2011

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Hi Paula I'm From Kentcky Until I moved to Vegas Several Years ago. I love looking for antiques and vintage items . Right now I'm Collecting Viking Birds and just things I like. Viking bird are so cool and great to decorate with.Teyy are glass birds and most with really long Tails and are different Colors. Their tails get smaller as they go up and are pretty delicate. I aldo like vaseline glass It so cool when you light it up with a blacklight. Love youur show and you girlie!! Emily

By Emily Tolman on March 07, 2011

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There are some wonderful antique stores here in the Atlanta area, one in particular on Peachtree Industrial. I'll keep an eye out for your jadeite. I also collect vintage linens, preferably hand-embroidered ones. I started collecting swan figurines years ago, and used one for my parent's 50th anniversary; swans mate for life and my parents did too, living to celebrate 59 years together. Butterflies and shells can also be found as collections in my home.

By CharleAnne on March 06, 2011

I love watching your show. I love all the plates and dishes you use to present your recipes.  Many of them look similar to Gail Pittman dinnerware.  I was just wondering if there are and where you get your dinnerware?

By Tammy on October 29, 2010

I collect anything old or vintage from years gone by. Now I am really into old jewelry either costume or 14k.
I sold my complete collection of jadite and now I want it back! after seeing yours. Also I had lots of vintage aprons & tablecloths and got tired of them and sold them now I want them back also.
I have lots of blue crock bowls and white ironstone.
I have started collecting old cook books from the 1930’s just because they keep jumping out at me at flea market and antique shops.

Love Paula Deen story and Love her friend Cheryl Day at Back In The Day Bakery in Savannah.

Janice

By Curtains In my Tree/ Janice on October 29, 2010

Just read your article, went dashing to the cabinet to check out my Jadite.Usaully watch for items at yard sales,antique shops. How fun to find a piece that I can afford or to just admire.Thanks for the info. Was in Savannah this past July 4th week, ate at your resturant, YUM YUM fried chicken like my Grandmother made! Took extra cholesterol lowering med at bedtime! ha Would love to go again sometime !!

By Pam L Smith on October 26, 2010

Hello Paula
First of all I love you and your show…and if I am ever in Georgia,I hope you meet you!
Love your saying"NOT FAT..JUST FUFFY AND HAPPY” ..LOL!
I collect Iron pots and pans for my kitchen..and also have a collection of shot glasses, family and friends give me from places we all visit…
Thanks so much sharing with us.

By Lou Anna Clement on October 14, 2010

Sunday, August 15th. she had coffee cups with flowers inside the cup and on the saucer.  Where can I buy these cups and saucers.  The show was in the morning and she had coffee and spoon shaped cookies that were dipped in chocolate.  Would appreciate and answer.  Thank you.

By charlotte black on August 16, 2010

My wifes Aunt passed last June in the house where her Grandparents also lived.In the house was some Jade ite pieces.I have started to collect these beautiful dishes thank you so much for the information.We have your cookbooks and we love them.You are a wonderful and beautiful Lady you have changed so many lives by your kindness and love for others.

By Rodney Leatherman on August 15, 2010

I can’t believe it I have a bowl set that was my Grandma’s and I just went and checked the bottom on them and sure enough they are Fire King!  I didn’t know that there was plates and mugs, ok I’m on the search!!!  I love to use them to entertain and makes me feel like my grandma is with me!!

By Sabrina Walden on July 20, 2010

when i was a little girl target had a line of glassware similar to jade-ite, and i adored it.  I wanted the sugar jar and the juice pitcher so bad, but as a seven year old, it was kinda silly.  Last year my cousin hosted a girls night in, and presented me with the exact sugar jar!

By bree on June 21, 2010

My husband and I have traveled all over Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, and Tennessee for Fire King Jadeite over the past 20+ years.  It used to be so easy to find; now, it’s near impossible!  We eventually sold off most of our collection which included 75 Fire King splash proof bowls and grease jars.  The fun was in the collecting and finding!!  I miss those days.  : )

By mharlan on June 10, 2010

I like to collect Blue Willow dishes.  I get them at flea markets and some garage sales.  They are so beautiful.  I use them when we have Chinese food and on alot of occasions.  They are so pretty.  I also collect tea cups and saucers.

By Pam W. on June 06, 2010

PAULA, I TOO LIKE YOUR COLLECTIONS. I’M 75 YEARS AND I REMEMBER GETTING DISHES OUT OF MOTHERS AND QUAKER OATS. I STILL HAVE SOME OF THE CUPS AND SAUCERS FROM THE 40’S AND 50’S. LOVE YOU!! IRENE

By Irene Puckette on June 04, 2010

I collect Snack Sets ~ glassware plates in various designs/glass types/colors that usually have an indention to hold the matching cups.  Most are in sets of four plates w/cups.  I’ve got milkglass, cutglass, amethyst hued, patterned, etc. 
And, collect glass refrigerator storage dishes/containers.  From small to large…
Both are my passion smile

By Nancy Gayle on June 02, 2010

I have a jadeite dish with a lid. It is beautiful. On the bottom of it is two capital letters….AA..with a circle around the two A’s. The top of the A’s are a little out of the circle as well as the bottom of the A’s are a little out of the circle. Can you tell me what this may mean of the piece I have?

By Tricia on June 02, 2010

I love to collect small coca cola items for my year round Christmas coca cola kitchen with a lot of coca cola santas…I love it and it is so cheerful..just like you…I love to watch your show and try some of your recipes…you seem to be so much fun to be around..thanks for lifting me up all the time…miss not seeing your Paula’s party…my favorite was the disco one…I watch you all the time..hubby too when he can..

By bubsie on June 02, 2010

Hey Paula,

I love antiques and antique dishes.  I only have a few pieces and need to decide which ones I really want to be serious about and collect.  I love the Jadeite and NO reproductions from China.

Love and Blessings,
Deborah

By Deborah Miles on June 02, 2010

Paula, first off ,as everyone else, I love your show(s).  I was so gald to see you love milk glass too.  I have my mom’s (which I think was her mom’s) luncheon set of the grape pattern white milk glass.  Along the way, my mom collected some other pieces, goblets, large platter, creamer and suger cup.  I only have 4 place settings but I use them for myself at dinner.  I also have a few pieces of green Jade ite.  I never let anything just sit, I use it all.  Just want you to know.

By Elizabeth on June 02, 2010

Hi Paula
I still drink my coffee out of my favorite cup and of course have to have the saucer which happens to be The Alice pattern of the jadite—I love it and have always wished I would have gotten every piece of that pattern. I just think it is so fancy looking lol and I am not fancy.
Have a good day
Joyce

By Joyce on May 10, 2010

My husband and I recently went through an old house and found some Jadite bowls and started using them.
They must be 50 yrs old or older. Beautiful.

By Karen Faison on April 23, 2010

i love your collection.. i love to collect anything antique for the kitchen mainly old cookbooks and dishware. my husband and i travel to work and i alway hit the rummage sales and antique shops to see what i can pick up.. Thanks for sharing. i love your show and cookbooks.. i even collect your wooden spoons..

By tonya baxter on April 15, 2010

Paula,

I also collect Jadite Fire King dishes, as well as the Ivory and Pink Fire King by Anchor Hocking.  It is so much fun to look for dishes when traveling.  My granddaughter brought a Paula Deen magazine over to my d-i-law and said, “Grandmother” and pointed to your picture.  Everybody tells me we look alike, but I think it is the accent.  I am originally from Alabama.  Anyway, I am flattered.  Also, my name is Johnnie like your friend’s.

By Johnnie Sue Staples on April 09, 2010

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