For over a century, McKee Glass Company produced high-quality glassware that was both beautiful and functional. Founded in 1853 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company grew to become one of the leading producers of glassware in the United States. Today, McKee glassware is highly sought after by collectors, with some pieces fetching thousands of dollars at auction. In this article, we will explore the history of McKee Glass Company, the characteristics of their glassware, and how to research and value these collectibles.
The History of McKee Glass Company
McKee Glass Company was founded in 1853 by brothers James and Robert McKee. The company began by producing glass bottles, but soon expanded to include a variety of glassware, including tableware, lighting fixtures, and decorative items. In 1899, the company moved to Jeannette, Pennsylvania, where it remained until it closed in 1951.
During the early 20th century, McKee Glass Company produced a number of iconic glass patterns, including Rock Crystal, Laurel, and American Sweetheart. These patterns were hugely popular and remain highly sought after by collectors today. McKee also produced a range of Depression-era glassware, which is highly collectible due to its vibrant colors and intricate designs.
The Characteristics of Collectible McKee Glassware
McKee glassware is known for its high quality and attention to detail. Many pieces feature intricate designs and patterns, and the glass is typically thick and heavy. McKee glassware was produced in a variety of colors, including clear, white, green, pink, and blue. Some pieces were also decorated with painted or etched designs.
One of the most popular McKee glass patterns is American Sweetheart, which was produced from 1930 to 1936. This pattern features a delicate design of hearts and scrolls and was produced in a variety of colors, including pink, green, and crystal. Other popular patterns include Laurel, which features an intricate leaf design, and Rock Crystal, which is characterized by its geometric shapes.
How to Research and Value Vintage McKee Glassware
If you're interested in collecting McKee glassware, it's important to do your research to ensure you're getting a fair price for your pieces. Here are some tips for researching and valuing McKee glassware:
1) Look for identifying marks: Many McKee pieces were marked with the company's logo, which can help you identify the pattern and age of the piece. Look for a mark that includes the letters "McK" or "McKee" as well as a number or symbol.
2) Consult reference books: There are many books and online resources available that can help you identify McKee glass patterns and determine their value. Some popular reference books include "McKee Glass: The First 100 Years" by Doris Yeske and "Depression Glass: A Collector's Guide" by Doris Yeske and Lyle Fokken.
3) Attend antique shows and auctions: Antique shows and auctions are great places to find McKee glassware and get a sense of its value. Be sure to do your research before attending to ensure you know what you're looking for and what a fair price would be.
4) Join collector groups: There are many collector groups and forums online where you can connect with other McKee glass collectors and get advice on valuing and collecting pieces.
5) Consider condition: Like with any antique or collectible, the condition of the piece can greatly affect its value. Look for pieces that are free from cracks, chips, and other damage.
In terms of value, McKee glassware can range from a few dollars for common pieces to thousands of dollars for rare or highly sought-after items. Factors that can affect the value of McKee glassware include rarity, age, condition, and pattern. Pieces in rare colors or with unusual shapes or designs may also command a higher price.
When valuing McKee glassware, it's important to be aware of the current market trends and demand for certain patterns and colors. Some patterns, such as American Sweetheart, are consistently in high demand, while others may fluctuate in popularity over time.
It's also important to be cautious when buying McKee glassware, particularly online. Counterfeit pieces and reproductions do exist, so it's important to do your research and buy from reputable dealers.
McKee glassware is a beautiful and collectible part of American glass history. By understanding the history of the company and the characteristics of their glassware, as well as researching and valuing pieces, collectors can build a valuable and enjoyable collection. Whether you're a seasoned collector or just starting out, McKee glassware is sure to add a touch of elegance and history to any home.
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