McKee and Jeannette Glassware History, Why it Glows

Highly Collectible McKee & Jeannette, it’s proven durability shows up today in estate sales, antique stores, and occasionally, the very lucky collector stumbles across it in a thrift store or fleas market. Here’s a little information about this highly sought after and quite often valuable glassware.

McKee is a name associated with various glass enterprises in the United States since 1836, including J. & F. McKee (1850), Bryce, McKee & Co. (1850 to 1854), McKee and Brothers (1865), and National Glass Co. (1899). In 1903, the McKee Glass Company was formed in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. It became McKee Division of the Thatcher Glass Co. in 1951 and was bought out by the Jeannette Corporation in 1961. Pressed glass, kitchenwares, and tablewares were produced. Jeannette Corporation closed in the early 1980s. McKee & Brothers was one of the best-known producers of clear pressed glass. Additional pieces may be included in the Custard Glass and Depression Glass categories.

McKee Glass Works History | SUBSTREET

Jeannette, Pennsylvania can’t forget about McKee Glass Works—that old factory in the middle of the medium-sized town.
Maybe it’s because the smokestacks from the precariously-poised plant can be seen from the city limits, maybe it’s because the town’s namesake is this factory’s founder’s wife… Continue Reading

Prior to 1943, McKee / Jeannette Glows Under a Black-light, Why? Here’s an example from my private collection, & further reading below explains the special glow.

Jadeite: the (Negligibly) Radioactive Kitchenware for the Nuclear Age
Source: MSU Campus Archaeology Program

Uranium was once a common colorant added to glass and ceramic glazes. Uranium glass was particularly popular in the early 20th century, when large quantities of uranium salts were being produced as byproducts of the radium extraction industry (1). The addition of yellow uranium oxide during the initial glass melting process produces colors ranging from yellow to green, though other hues including pink, blue, and white can be obtained by adding other colorants to the mix (2). Glass colored with uranium salts is easily identified because uranium fluoresces bright green under ultraviolet light (3). Luckily, since these items emit only negligibly tiny amounts of radiation, they are safe to handle, eat and drink from (3). Uranium fell out of use after World War II when it became critical to the war effort (think: the Manhattan Project). From 1942 to 1958 civilian use of uranium was heavily regulated, so glassmakers had to find different ways of achieving similar colors (3). The fact that the fragment from the Brody/Emmons Amphitheater assemblage glows green under black light tells us it contains uranium and therefore that it dates prior to 1943. Continue Reading

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