Fire-King glass wows collectors with its milky hues and mid-century modern silhouettes. Made in Lancaster, Ohio, from 1942 until 1976, the distinctive heat-proof glassware is still in demand in part thanks to Martha Stewart, who filled her gleaming kitchen with Fire-King Jadeite in the 1990s. With prices down since the height of the green glass craze, Fire-King glass is a great choice for beginners and experienced collectors alike who are looking for affordable antique glassware that they can use in the kitchen as well as admire.
More Than Just Jade-ite
Though the opaque green glass remains the most beloved of Fire-King’s color, the solid glassware comes in a variety of shades, including a creamy rose, turquoise blue, ivory, white and pale blue Azurite. Fired-on colors expand this list greatly, with hues from royal ruby to printed patterns. The designs of the heat-proof borosilicate glass also run the gamut. In addition to dinner plates and saucers, you can find Fire-King mixing bowls, casserole dishes, covered refrigerator containers, vases and more.
Beginner collectors can find affordable dinner sets from the sturdy Restaurant Ware line, which was made in white in addition to the more collectible jade color, or choose a set of plates in one of the many decal patterns. Popular patterns include Wheat, which is decked in the yellow grain, and the floral patterns Anniversary Rose, Fleurette, and Primrose. The Jane Ray dinner set also has many fans with its embossed rayed pattern around the collar.
How to Find It
Those new to Fire-King can learn to spot it by mark or color. Most pieces have a written marking that include the words “Fire-King” or “Oven Fire-King Ware.” However, other pieces sport only the Anchor-Hocking logo, an anchor-shaped graphic that represents the manufacturer of Fire-King. Some pieces only had adhesive foil labels that have long since worn off, leaving these items essentially unmarked.
To identify unmarked Fire-King, you can learn how to recognize the glassware by color and pattern. Some distinctive hues stand out, such as Jadeite, while others require practice. To get a feel for the real stuff, visit antique glassware dealers and flea markets to see as much as possible in person. Once you own a piece in sapphire blue, you can probably identify others on the shelf by color alone.
Rare Pieces to Watch For
Long-time collectors stress that you should start off with affordable pieces as you learn the different patterns, colors and lines. However, it doesn’t hurt to know the rarest pieces should you happen to strike gold in a junk shop. Certain Jadeite pieces fetch higher prices than others, including flat-rimmed soup bowls and mixing bowls. Other items require a discriminating eye. For example, the rare breakfast bowl looks quite similar to the common chili bowl, but the former commands a much higher price, according to Fire-King Mug Vintage. Beyond Jadeite, rarities include Swedish teardrop nesting bowls and ball pitchers, the most sought-after of all.
Fire-King mugs are another specialized field for collectors. An extra-heavy Restaurant Ware mug in white sporting a C-handle sells into the high hundreds, according to veteran Fire-King dealer Ron Cantrell. The seldom-seen slim chocolate mug goes for even more. Experts warn newbies not to go hunting for these rare pieces online, where fakes are not uncommon. Other mugs made by companies as promotional giveaways sport retro logos, such as the Burger Queen D-handle mug.
Despite auction prices peaking, many antique glass collectors still enjoying tracking down their favorite Fire-King pieces, and there is reason to think that certain items may go up in value over time. Antique expert Pamela Wiggins puts her money on Meadow Green, a leaf motif in avocado green made from the late 1960s to ’70s. Other collectors remain happy to buy whatever looks cheery on the dining room table regardless of value.