Green with envy
Apr 3, 2019 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
One of my favorite colors is green – it always reminds me of Spring and new beginnings. Green ushers in growth, hope, and excitement for the future. Today’s feature borrows some of that energy by presenting amazing vintage pieces that make fellow collectors green with envy! Tell us all about your favorite green collectibles in the comments…
Jadeite is a green variation of milk glass. Milk glass first became popular in American kitchens during the 20th century, with Jadeite coming onto the scene shortly thereafter. This green addition was the brainchild of a few American manufacturers who wanted to inject some green-hued optimism into a war-torn world – and it worked. For iconic Ohio-based manufacturer Anchor Hocking (makers of Fire King Jadeite), production was at its peak from the 1940s through mid-1970s. American housewives loved this pretty, opaque green so much that other products were offered in the same shade (think canisters, salt & pepper shakers, etc). During this time, the hallmark of a nicely appointed kitchen revolved around the color story. The more that your kitchen matched – the better. Any mid-century gal would be proud to look out over her kitchen to gaze upon a sea of green (and many were able to do just that thanks to Jadeite).
Because of this huge popularity, Jadeite boasts devoted followers to this day. In fact, any home goods store will have Jadeite offerings on their shelves. A collector’s note – while Anchor Hocking still produces Fire King Jadeite, the designs vary from the original details so the legacy is maintained. You can learn more about other Jadeite manufacturers here.
We can’t talk about vintage green without a mention of Fiestaware. Their forest green and medium green shades are among the most rare (and therefore sought-after) hues.
René Lalique was a French designer and, while his medium of choice was glass, he is also known for his jewelry and industrial designs (such as hood ornaments). Lalique spent many childhood summers in the countryside and these experiences informed his view as a designer. The majority of his pieces are defined as Art Nouveau in style, but their influences come directly from nature. And what’s a more natural way to signal a connection to the earth than by employing the color green? My favorite pieces are the green vase and fern brooch. Later in his career, he transitioned to the newly minted Art Deco style. The graceful lines and celebration of form allowed him to make this stylistic leap while keeping nature at the center of his designs.
What can I say? Pottery has always been a soft spot for me and when I find a green pottery piece my heart definitely flutters! This California pottery piece brings me great joy and part of that is because of its history. When California entered statehood in the 1800s, it was on the heels of a huge exploratory push. It was a time to go westward and hope reigned supreme. There was a sense that anything could happen and the future looked bright. The Arts & Crafts movement was finding its stride and, in the abundant sunshine of the Pacific coast, beautiful pottery pieces were made. Gorgeous greens, drawing from natural influences, were a big part of the movement.
My list of coveted green vintage collectibles could go on and on – glass bead necklaces, leather-bound books, and beautiful dresses – but I digress! I’ll leave you with a quote from Pedro Calderón de la Barca, a 15th century poet, who understood the connection we feel with this particular color. “Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” Looking at the beginnings of my Jadeite collection, I’m struck by the cheerfulness it evokes. What colorful, vintage pieces bring you joy?