S. McKee & Company / McKee Glass Company

 

S. McKee & Company

 Pittsburgh, PA (1834-1908)

McKee Glass Company (F. & J. McKee, McKee & Brother, McKee & Brothers, McKee-Jeannette Glass Company, McKee Glass Company)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (c.1854-1888)

Jeannette, Pennsylvania (1888-1951)

  The McKee name has long been associated with glassmaking in the Pittsburgh region. The various firms they were involved in, and the history and timelines are highly confusing and incomplete.  For much more detailed, well-researched info on McKee factories, products and marks, see Glasshouses & Glass Manufacturers of the Pittsburgh Region 1875-1910 by Jay W. Hawkins (published 2009).

Firm #1:  S. McKee and Company.  Samuel McKee (in 1834), and later along with brothers James and Thomas (starting a new glass plant in 1836) produced tremendous quantities of window glass as well as hollowware including fruit jars, bottles of every description, pressed telegraph and lightning rod insulators, with total glass production apparently extending over a period of over 70 years. They are well known among insulator collectors for their threadless insulator (CD 731 style) marked “S. McKEE & CO”.

CD 731 telegraph insulator, marked “S. McKee & CO.” circa 1865-1870. Photo courtesy of Rick Jones.

This was produced for telegraph lines during or immediately after the Civil War period, probably from 1865 and possibly into the very early 1870s. They went out of business in about 1908.  Markings on bottles and other containers include “S. McKee & CO” , “M’Kee”, “S. M’Kee”, S. McKee & Co. Pittsburg” and probably other minor variations.

Firm #2:  McKee Glass Company.  Frederick and James McKee (two of five sons of Thomas, co-owner of S. McKee & Company, discussed above) started this firm under the name  “F. & J. McKee” in 1854, after the break-up of a previous partnership “Bryce, McKee and CO” which had begun in 1850.  They produced cut glass, vials, bottles, pressed, and other types of glassware as well as window glass. The exact company name changed several times, becoming “McKee & Brothers” in 1867.  A wide variety of early pressed glass tableware patterns and novelties were made by this firm, especially throughout the 1860s, 1870s, 1880s and 1890s.

McKee & Brothers moved to Jeannette, PA in 1888, and in 1899 became part of the National Glass Company “combine”.  However, by 1903, McKee had apparently broken away from the combine, and about 1904 became known as  “McKee-Jeannette Glass Company”.  In 1908, the name was changed again to simply “McKee Glass Company”.  Under this name large quantities of high quality glassware was produced, including pressed “pattern glass”, jadite (opaque green) , white milk glass, blackglass and other opaque ware.  

“Glasbake” brand glass, introduced in 1917,  was McKee’s answer to “Pyrex” (the heat- and breakage-resistant cookware produced by Corning).     Window glass was also produced, at least during the early years at Jeannette.

McKee also made industrial glassware, as I have received information from Mark Ounan indicating they produced automotive glass headlight lenses in the c. 1917 period.  He owns a lens marked “Dodge Brothers / U. S. A. / McKee & Co. / Jeannette PA”. I presume this is the same company as “McKee Glass Company” .  

After many years of production, the McKee Glass factory was acquired in 1951 to become the McKee Division of Thatcher Glass Company.

In 1961 Jeannette Glass Company bought the property and a variety of pressed glass tableware was manufactured there by Jeannette until it closed in 1983.

Note: for a much more thorough summary of the various McKee glass companies/partnerships/firms, and their products, including a comprehensive listing of EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) patterns that have been attributed to them, I heartily recommend a great reference work recently published by Jay W. Hawkins, entitled “Glasshouses & Glass Manufacturers of the Pittsburgh Region 1795-1910“.

More to come, as this page is under construction and I hope to upgrade with more information as time permits.

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