Anchor Hocking Fire-King
Fire-King Ovenware Made in USA moulded into centre of base
Plain press-moulded milk glass with orange mustard lustre (peach lustre) colour to exterior heat resistant glass bowl with ribbed sides sloping inward to circular base and pronounced footring. Stem handle angled upward from outside of bowl with scroll knob end.
1970s to 1980s
Length (with handle)
MS Store Glen Waverly
Monday, October 10, 2011
Not Australian but found in many Australian homes in the 1960s and 1970s, Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation is a manufacturer of glassware. The Hocking Glass Company was founded in 1905 by Isaac Jacob (Ike) Collins. That company merged with the Anchor Cap and Closure Corporations in 1937. Anchor Hocking is primarily located in Lancaster Ohio. (Plant No 44 is located in Monaca Pennsylvania.) The first glassware they produced as the Anchor Hocking Glass Company was Royal Ruby in 1939. They manufacture many brands of glass.
From the 1940s until 2000, Anchor Hocking produced an extensive line of heat resistant oven glassware called Fire-King. The company's lines included not only dinnerware but also a plethora of glass kitchen items, breakfast sets, candy dishes, range sets, vases, and more. There are many ovenware patterns including Currier & Ives, Gay Fad Studios, Jade-ite, and Sapphire Blue. Fire-King Jade-ite has really become popular today. It has propelled Fire-King to the collecting forefront.
Fire-King is an Anchor Hocking brand of glassware similar to Pyrex and made of low expansion borosilicate glass that is ideal for oven use. Fire-King was originally produced in the 1940s for everyday use, rather than display. It was often sold in bags of flour as a promotional item or was given away at gas stations. Fire-King could also be purchased at local grocery and hardware stores. Today, Fire-King is an affordable collectible found in antique stores, garage sales and op shops, as well as on the Internet. The Fire-King line includes bowls, casseroles, cups, plates, serving platters, creamers, vases and more. Fire-King is not designed for dishwasher use, which can dull its original lustre and remove any applied paint decorations.
Originally, Fire-King was made from borosilicate glass. The composition was changed for some products to tempered soda lime glass that is now the most common form of glass used in glass bakeware and has a higher mechanical strength so is less vulnerable to breakage when dropped (the leading cause of breakage in glass bakeware).
These ramekins are made from a glass-ceramic. The manufacture of this material involves a process of controlled crystallization. NASA classifies it as a “Glass-Ceramic” product. Glass-ceramic materials share many properties with both glass and ceramics. They have an amorphous phase and one or more crystalline phases and are produced by a “controlled crystallization” in contrast to a spontaneous crystallization, which is usually not wanted in glass manufacturing. Glass-ceramics usually have between 30% [m/m] and 90% [m/m] crystallinity and yield an array of materials with interesting thermomechanical properties.
Another Australian Pottery, Studio Anna was also catering for the cookware market at the same time. Introduced by owner Karel Jungvirt around the early 1960s, possibly as an Australian answer to Fire-King and Corning Ware (which came out in 1958), a range of decorated cookware he called Pyro-Ceracraft was developed. Available in a wide selection of designs and described as oven tableware, this range of heat resistant ceramics included casserole dishes, pie dishes and ramekins and was designed to be attractive enough to be brought straight from the oven to the dinner table.
Glass-ceramics are mostly produced in two steps: First, glass is formed by a glass manufacturing process. The glass is cooled down and is then reheated in a second step. In this heat treatment, the glass partly crystallizes. In most cases nucleation agents are added to the base composition of the glass-ceramic. These nucleation agents aid and control the crystallization process. Because there is usually no pressing and sintering, glass-ceramics have, unlike sintered ceramics, no pores. A wide variety of glass-ceramic systems exists, e.g. the Li2O x Al2O3 x nSiO2-System (LAS-System), the MgO x Al2O3 x nSiO2-System (MAS-System), the ZnO x Al2O3 x nSiO2-System (ZAS-System), glass-ceramics made of Lithium-Disilicate and machinable glass-ceramics with Phlogopite as basic system. (Thanks Mr Wikipedia for that last bit)
Collecting Fire King is a relatively new, but rapidly growing hobby. Record prices have been paid for some of their coffee mugs over the past couple years. Mugs that have previously been unavailable to collectors are turning up at auctions, antique stores, collector’s shows, and especially on the Internet daily. Because collecting mugs is a new hobby, there is little information and resources for collectors. Many mainstream restaurants hold a special spot in collector’s hearts. For example, Burger King, McDonald’s, White Castle, Taco Tico, and many other franchised restaurants command top dollar when they come up for sale. There are also a lot of Japanese websites that offer the mugs as the Japanese love Fire-King (vintage in general is hot at the moment in Japan).
Fire King was marked on the bottom of Anchor Hocking’s products from the early 1940’s to the early 1980’s. After the early 1980’s, Anchor Hocking simply marked their products with an Anchor and dropped the term Fire King.
Anchor Hocking made the term “oven proof” a household name in their day. Unfortunately, the invention of the dishwasher and its harsh conditions were the detrimental demise to many of their wonderful items. As mentioned earlier, Fire-King is not designed for dishwasher use which can dull its original lustre and remove any applied paint decorations. Collectors need to take this in account when adding new items to their collection. Keep in mind that Fire King was meant for daily use, and so pieces may show signs of wear. Take this into consideration when you are purchasing pieces – are they for your own personal use or for resale? And also be careful about how you maintain it – wash the pieces by hand (otherwise the glass will end up etched), and avoid placing it in the microwave (remember, microwaves were not invented at the time of Fire King manufacture). If you can follow these steps, you’ll enjoy your Anchor Hocking Fire King glassware for yet another several generations.
Fire-King was originally produced in the 1940s for everyday use, rather than display. They were often sold or given away as gifts in bags of flour as a promotional item or given away at petrol stations. Fire-King could also be purchased at your local grocery and hardware stores. Their lines included bowls, casseroles, cups, plates, serving platters, creamers, vases and more. The idea behind these dishes was that they would be multipurpose – bake your casserole in the covered dish and use the same dish to store the leftovers. Other Anchor Hocking Fire King products included ash-trays, cosmetic jars and containers, and souvenir pieces. While it is collectible glassware, it is also quite affordable, and can purchased at many op (thrift) shops, antique or flea markets, and even garage (yard) sales.
The colors and patterns of Fire King vary widely, some of which are solid, opaque colored glass (like white, ivory, roseite (a creamy pink), jadeite (a pale green), azureite (a light blue), and turquoise. Other lines have pastel or bright shades of colors like blue, green, and yellow, which are fired-on coatings. Patterns on the white glass dishes included natural, geometric, and floral decals, with their best-selling patterns including primrose, forget-me-not, and wheat. Anchor Hocking Fire King’s signature glass and pattern came to be the jadeite (known as “Jade-ite”) color and the Philbe pattern (a raised pattern found on clear, jadeite, sapphire blue, and ivory-colored glass). Also very popular from Anchor Hocking was its’ thicker, restaurant-grade dinnerware, as well as the Peach-lustre dinnerware for the home.
How can you identify an authentic Fire King piece? This can be very difficult, because while most lines are embossed on the bottom, these logos (often an anchor or script or block-letter “Fire-King”) changed over time, and were often not used at all, replaced by a sticker that could be easily removed. These ramekins are an example of the lost sticker but can be identified by the shape. This means that many authentic Fire King pieces do not have any embossing. Especially when it comes to Jade-ite, the most searched-after color by Fire King collectors, imitations abound. Many Asian-made reproductions do their best to imitate the originals, and are marked only by easily removed clear stickers to facilitate this. It is difficult to distinguish between authentic Fire King and reproductions, especially for novices. As you become more familiar with the Anchor Hocking Fire King brand, you will become more skilled at identifying basic and then less common patterns. Be sure to check the reputation of on-line dealers, and seek the help of experienced collectors, when in doubt.
There are many decaled patterns that are very popular including Blue Mosaic, Wheat, Primrose, Fleurette, Forget Me Not and Anniversary Rose. Patterns with solid glass colors are Swirl, Sheaves of Wheat, Shell, Jane Ray, Alice, Fish Scale, Three Bands Restaurant Ware, 4000 Line and 1700 Line. Jade-ite Restaurant Ware is most popular among some collectors. It is a creamy jade color. Martha Stewart popularized this pattern by using it on her TV show. Fire-King solid glass colors come in rose-ite (creamy pink), turquoise blue, azur-ite (light pale blue), white, and ivory. It can also be a fired-on coating over crystal in shades of pastel green, pastel blue, pastel peach, pastel yellow, primary orange, primary blue, primary yellow and primary green. These fired on colors are part of the pattern Rainbow. Rainbow is not technically Fire-King, but included in the same category with most collector books. There is also a fired on Peach-Lustre color that comes in several patterns.
History of Anchor Hocking
Anchor Hocking began when Isaac J. Collins and six friends raised $8,000 to buy the Lancaster Carbon Company, Lancaster, Ohio, when it went into receivership in 1905. The company's facility was known as the Black Cat from all the carbon dust. Mr. Collins, a native of Salisbury, Maryland, had been working in the decorating department of the Ohio Flint Glass Company when this opportunity arose. Unfortunately the $8,000 that was raised was not sufficient to purchase and operate the new company, so Mr. Collins enlisted the help of Mr. E. B. Good. With a cheque for $17,000 provided by Mr. Good, one building, two day-tanks, and 50 employees, Mr. Collins was able to begin Hocking Glass Company operations at the Hocking Glass Company.
The company, named for the Hocking River near which the plant was located, made and sold approximately $20,000 worth of glassware in the first year. Production was expanded with the purchase of another day-tank. This project was funded by selling $5,000 in stock to Thomas Fulton, who was to become the Secretary-Treasurer. Just when everything seemed to be going well, tragedy struck the company in 1924 when the Black Cat was reduced to ashes by a tremendous fire. Mr. Collins and his associates were not discouraged. They managed to raise the funding to build what is known as Plant 1 on top of the ashes of the Black Cat. This facility was specifically designed for the production of glassware. Later in that same year, the company also purchased controlling interest in the Lancaster Glass Company (later called Plant 2) and the Standard Glass Manufacturing Company with plants in Bremen and Canal Winchester, Ohio.
The development of a revolutionary machine that pressed glass automatically would save the company when the Great Depression hit. The new machine raised production rates from 1 item per minute to over 30 items per minute. When the 1929 stock market crash hit, the company responded by developing a 15-mold machine that could produce 90 pieces of blown glass per minute. This allowed the company to sell tumblers "two for a nickel" and survive the depression when so many other companies vanished.
Hocking Glass Company entered the glass container business in 1931 with the purchase of 50% of the General Glass Company, which in turn acquired Turner Glass Company of Winchester, Indiana. In 1934, Hocking and its subsidiary developed the first one-way beer bottle. Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation came into existence on December 31, 1937 when the Anchor Cap and Closure Corporation and its subsidiaries merged with the Hocking Glass Company. The Anchor Cap and Closure Corporation had closure plants in Long Island City, New York and Toronto, Canada, and glass container plants in Salem, New Jersey and Connellsville, Pennsylvania.
Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation continued to expand into other areas of production such as tableware, closure and sealing machinery, and toiletries and cosmetic containers through the expansion of existing facilities and the purchase of Baltimore, Maryland based Carr-Lowry Glass Company and the west coast Maywood Glass. In the 1950s, the corporation established the Research and Development Center in Lancaster, Ohio, purchased the Tropical Glass and Container Company in Jacksonville, Florida, and built a new facility in San Leandro, California in 1959. In 1962, the company built a new glass container plant in Houston, Texas while also adding a second unit to the Research and Development Center, known as the General Development Laboratory. In 1963 Zanesville Mold Company in Ohio became an Anchor Hocking Corporation subsidiary. The company designed and manufactured mold equipment for Anchor Hocking.
The word "Glass" was dropped from the company's name in 1969 because the company had evolved into an international company with an infinite product list. They had entered the plastic market in 1968 with the acquisition of Plastics Incorporated in St. Paul, Minnesota. They continued to expand their presence in the plastic container market with the construction of a plant in Springdale, Ohio. This plant was designed to produce blown mold plastic containers. Anchor Hocking Corporation entered the lighting field in September 1970 with the purchase of Phoenix Glass Company in Monaca, Pennsylvania. They also bought the Taylor, Smith & Taylor Company, located in Chester, West Virginia, to make earthenware, fine stoneware, institutional china dinnerware, and commemorative collector plates.
Over the years, several changes occurred in the company. Phoenix Glass Company was destroyed by fire on 15 July 1978, Shenango China (new Castle, Pennsylvania) was purchased in 28 March 1979, Taylor, Smith & Taylor was sold on 30 September 1981, and on 1 April 1983 the company's decided to divest its interest in the Glass Container Division to an affiliate of the Wesray Corporation. The Glass Container Division was to be known as the Anchor Glass Container Corporation with seven manufacturing plants and its office in Lancaster, Ohio.
The Newell Corporation acquired the Anchor Hocking Corporation on 2 July 1987. With this renewed influx of capital, several facilities were upgraded and some less profitable facilities were either closed or sold. The Clarksburg, West Virginia, facility was closed in November 1987, Shenango China was sold on 22 January 1988, and Carr-Lowry Glass was sold on 12 October 1989. Today, Anchor Hocking enjoys the financial backing and resources as one of the 18 decentralized Newell Companies that manufacture and market products in four basic markets: house wares, hardware, home furnishings, and office products. You may recognize such familiar Newell Companies such as Intercraft, Levolor Home Fashions, Anchor Hocking Glass, Goody Products, Anchor Hocking Specialty Glass, Sanford, Stuart Hall, Newell Home Furnishings, Amerock, BerzOmatic, or Lee/Rowan.
Earlier in 2001, Newell Corporation entered into negotiations with Libbey Glass for the purchase and transfer of Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation. After months of negotiations, Libbey Glass withdrew their offer in the midst of serious objections by the federal government. Newell Corporation eventually sold several of its businesses, including Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation, to Global Home Products (GHP). GHP is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, which specializes in turning around underperforming brands. Despite all cost-cutting efforts in this weak economy, Global Home Products and Anchor Hocking filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2006 and the Anchor Hocking assets were sold to a unit of Monomoy Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. The future of Anchor Hocking is uncertain at this point in time.
What is NOT Fire-King?
The obvious answer is anything not made by the Anchor Hocking Company. There were several companies producing similar objects, such as Federal, Glasbake, Hazel Atlas, Libbey, Galaxy, and the Mexican company — Termocrisa, which made some of the better copies of both the shapes and the pattern themes. The less obvious answer is that any Anchor Hocking product made after the company ended the Fire-King embossing on the bottom is not Fire-King. These include the anchor symbol inside a rounded cornered rectangle, are made after about 1979ish and do not have the words Fire-King on bottom. These are simply Anchor Hocking, though many are seeing increased collector interest.
The importance of learning the markings should be clear, but since almost all Fire-King items are marked, but still it is imperative that the collector learn the specific shapes in order to distinguish from a distance from other makers, especially since some of their mugs have brought record prices in 2004.