The popularity of Fire-King's Jade-ite, an opaque green glass produced from the late-1940s through the late-1960s (as shown above), got quite a bit of fuel from Martha Stewart in the mid-1990s when a kitchen lined with this dinnerware and utilitarian kitchen glass first appeared in her magazine spreads. That, combined with a glimpse of the collection on her television programs from time to time, led to quite a Fire-King collecting frenzy.
In the early ‘90s, shoppers could walk into just about any antique mall across the country and pick up an armload of Fire-King's common Jane Ray pattern in Jade-ite at a fairly reasonable price. Prices rose at the time to rival many scarce Depression glass patterns. Today, demand for this glass isn’t as high so you can expect to find it fairly reasonably piece by piece through online auctions. However, some pieces of green Restaurant Ware are truly hard to find and still command quite a costly audience with collectible glass enthusiasts.
Fire-King Beyond Jade-ite
Anchor Hocking made Fire-King branded wares beyond Jade-ite -- many more, in fact. The square Charm dinnerware pattern, which was produced in Jade-ite in limited quantities, came predominantly in opaque pale blue Azur-ite, Forest Green, and Royal Ruby. Most of these brightly colored dishes were tagged with foil stickers that have long worn away with washing and wear, but the rounded square shape provides easy recognition for glassware shoppers when they aren’t marked.
A good book to have on hand when identifying this type of glass is Anchor Hocking's Fire-King and More by Gene Florence (now out of print but still available through used booksellers). This guide shows all the most popular patterns, pieces, and colors. The pricing data, of course, is out of date by now but you can easily do your own valuation research on most of these pieces.
Florence's reference wouldn't be complete without including Sapphire Blue ovenware. Anchor Hocking manufactured this pale blue glass that qualifies as Fire-King from 1942 through the '50s, although most pieces aren't marked due to the fancy pattern molded into the glass. Once you learn to recognize the light blue color, however, there’s no mistaking it. It’s also worth mentioning that dinnerware pieces produced in Sapphire Blue are referenced as “Philbe” and this is the same color as much of Anchor Hocking’s “Bubble” pattern dinnerware.
Another “pattern” that must have been really popular when it was in production (given the quantities found at estate sales) is Game Birds. These pieces feature decals depicting four different types of fowl on white glass mugs, plates, tumblers, and bowls, and some of them were rather haphazardly applied. They are still reasonably priced and plentiful in the collecting marketplace.
You'll also want to keep an eye out for the flowered Fleurette, Honeysuckle, and Primrose decals affixed to milky white glass dinnerware sets if you’re looking for an affordable alternative to Jade-ite. Most all these pieces will be marked with the Fire-King logo in raised lettering on the bottoms or backs.
Of course, there's always the Meadow Green pattern if you really want to get in before the rush. This white Fire-King glass produced from 1967-1977 sports an avocado green floral pattern in both dinnerware pieces an matching baking ware (similar to some Pyrex dinnerware). Prices on these pieces just coming into their own remain quite affordable. If you like it, collect it, and you might cash in someday as the value continues to increase.
Prices for Fire-King
Jane Ray dinnerware prices have actually stabilized over the past 15 years or so, and have even come down some on several pieces in the set. Perhaps some of the folks who were following Martha’s every move in the mid-1990s are now selling off their sets? For whatever reason, you can find basic pieces like cups and saucers for less than $5 each now.
Dinner and salad plates generally run in the $8-15 range. Platters and soup bowls are a bit more, but still nothing in comparison to many Restaurant Ware items.
Speaking of Fire-King’s Jade-ite Restaurant Ware, the coffee mugs with a “C” handle sell for $75-100 each now. Find the same mug in white and you’ll likely pay more than $250 when shopping with a glassware dealer in the know. Add advertising slogans or logos to one of these heavy glass mugs and the price can jump up to $300-500 or more for a catchy example. Matching flat-rimmed soup bowls usually sell in the range of $75-100 each. And a ball pitcher can run in excess of $600 or so, if you’re lucky enough to find one. These prices make the more plentiful “D” handle mugs, chili bowls, and standard cup and saucer sets look like a bargains when you can pick them up for $10-15 apiece .
As for the aforementioned Sapphire Blue glassware, some people still use these distinctive pieces in busy kitchens. But for most people seeking the bakers, utility bowls, and pie plates in this style, it's only for show. Prices on the Sapphire Blue pieces have risen high enough to where most owners of this glass feel more comfortable putting it on a shelf to admire. A set of mixing bowls or a two-part covered round roasting pan might bring $50-75 However, the majority of these pretty pieces sell in the $10-30 range in most markets. Custard cups are the most commonly found items, bringing around $5 each in an antique shop. But mugs and dinnerware pieces, known as the Philbe pattern, generally sell for much more with a single mug bringing $50 to $200 or more depending on whether the glass is thick or thin.
When looking for Fire-King bargains, your best bet would be to concentrate on the dinnerware sets made of white glass with decals also mentioned above. Even though book prices for Game Birds and other white with decal sets might reflect higher values, they just haven't garnered enough of a following yet to compete with Jade-ite and Sapphire Blue.
You can put together a nice set paying $5-10 per piece, if not less. Some Jade-ite mixing bowls, shakers, and other kitchenware can also be found reasonably priced today at around $25 each, and oftentimes for much less.
Books on the Topic
To delve into this type of collectible glassware more extensively, take a look at these books: Fire King: An Identification and Price Guide by Joe Keller and David Ross (Schiffer Books), and Jadite: An Identification and Price Guide also by Joe Keller and David Ross (Schiffer Books).