Everything You Need to Know About Glasbake

If you’ve come across a set of Glasbake kitchenware, you may be interested in learning more about the kitchenware’s history, usability, and safety. Glasbake has a rich and unique history, and the kitchenware often raises questions for vintage and antique collectors regarding its usability, similarity to Pyrex glass bakeware, safety, and maintenance requirements. This article will address common questions and concerns related to Glasbake.

Glasbake is a multifunctioning kitchenware that was first introduced in the early 20th century, as women sought after kitchenware that could help cut down time in the kitchen. The kitchenware was designed to compete with Pyrex brand glassware, and can often appear interchangeable based on appearance. As the name “Glasbake” suggests, it could be used to bake food in the oven, serve a dish at the dinner table, and refrigerate leftovers.

Read on to learn more about the history, safety, and usability of Glasbake, as well as how to maintain your Glasbake Kitchenware.

Vintage Rare 1950s Yellow Glasbake J482 Round Space Age UFO Fireball, sold for $32.50 by SandysShopping on Etsy
Vintage Rare 1950s Yellow Glasbake J482 Round Space Age UFO Fireball, sold for $32.50 by SandysShopping on Etsy

Who Made Glasbake?

Glasbake kitchenware was first introduced in 1917 by the McKee Glass Company (based in Jeannette Pennsylvania). The kitchenware was designed to rival the popular Pyrex ovenware product line that had been created by Corning Glass Works during the time period.

The kitchenware was originally spelled “Glasbak,” and was later changed to “Glasbake,” during its release year.

During the initial half of the 20th century, housewives were gravitating toward more modernized kitchenware. These women were seeking dishware that could help cut down time spent in the kitchen. Glasbake ovenware accomplished this by providing a seamless transition from oven to table to refrigerator.

1970s Vintage Glasbake Vegetable Medley by Jeannette” Casserole Baker J2428 MCM
1970s Vintage Glasbake Vegetable Medley by Jeannette” Casserole Baker J2428 MCM for $27.00 by WickedSipNFlip on Etsy

A vintage Glasbake ovenware ad describes the dishware as “so lovely… so practical… cook, serve, store—all in the same beautifully designed casseroles and other dishes…” [Source]

The kitchenware was coined as “a sanitary baking ware and serving ware combined.”

Due to the practicality of such kitchenware, housewives were able to avoid overwhelming piles of dishes during meal preparation, which cut down overall time spent in the kitchen and expedited the cleaning process.

What Year Did Glasbake Come Out?

Glasbake was initially produced in 1917. Quickly checking the backstamp on the kitchenware can help you approximate when your Glasbake dish was released. Glasbake labeled “Glasbak or Glasbake”  was likely released between 1917-1953, Glasbake marked “Glasbake by McKee Division of Thatcher Glass Corp” was likely released between 1951-1961, and  Glasbake released by Jeannette Glass with a “J” at the start of the product code was likely produced between 1961-1983.

Vintage Glasbake 11 Ounce Soup Bowls with handles Set of 4
Vintage Glasbake 11 Ounce Soup Bowls with Handles Set of 4 – Sold for $35 from fenmar1951 on Ebay

When Did They Stop Making Glasbake?

Glasbake production ended in 1983.

Is Glasbake the Same as Pyrex?

Glasbake kitchenware was originally designed to compete with the Corning Glass Works Pyrex brand line. Though both sets of kitchenware have similarities, including patterns that appear to overlap in theme, Glasbake and Pyrex are distinct from each other in many ways.

Vintage Mug Retro 1970 Glasbake Heat Resistant Orange and Yellow Mid Century Modern
Vintage Mug Retro 1970 Glasbake Heat Resistant Orange and Yellow Mid Century Modern for $15.00 by RetrospectVintage215 on Etsy

Pyrex is a brand of dishware that was introduced by the company Corning Glass Works in 1915. During this time, Corning used borosilicate glass, which was first made by German chemist Otto Schott. It resisted expansion during intense temperature changes, which made it exceptional to cook with or use in laboratory experiments. The potential of borosilicate glass to be used in kitchenware was apparently discovered by Bessie Littleton, who used “Nonex,” (a borosilicate low-expansion glass created at Corning Glass Works in 1908), to bake a casserole. In the 1930’s and 1940’s Corning began to use soda-lime glass to produce Pyrex, which is a relatively inexpensive and workable glass used in the large majority of manufacturing today.

Glasbake and Pyrex are quite similar when comparing general quality and properties of the glass. (Source) Both have a similar “thermal capacity,” and heat resistance level, as well as glass thickness. Additionally, both Glasbake and Pyrex have similar design patterns that can at times make it difficult to distinguish between the two at first glance.

At the same time, there are quite a few differences between Glasbake and Pyrex. Pyrex has been argued to be more durable, and many have lauded the brand’s container lids for their security, while Glasbake has been noted to have a wider variety of container sizes and unique patterns.

Glasbake has been regarded highly for the kitchenware’s variety of patterns. A few of these patterns include: Safe Bake, Wild Rose, Flamez, Currier & Ives, Vegetable Medley, Yellow Daisy, Cameo with Urn, Green Deco, Gold Teapot Motif, Tulip and Gingham Brown, Brown Floral, Grecian,  Fleur de Lis, Ivy, Queen Anne, etc. [Source]

Can Glasbake Go in the Oven?

Yes, Glasbake kitchenware can go in the oven. The kitchenware was originally designed to go in the oven and then to double as a serving dish at mealtime. However, it is always necessary to exercise some caution with vintage or antique items. It is recommended to not subject the kitchenware to extreme temperatures, or the broiler setting. Always check your glassware to observe it for any potential heat-inflicted damage.[Source]

Can Glasbake Go in the Dishwasher?

Glasbake kitchenware was initially designed before the advent of the dishwasher, so it may not be able to withstand a wash cycle in the machine. The dishwasher cycle may make Glasbake lose luster or even break. It is recommended to hand wash your vintage Glasbake kitchenware.

Can You Put Glasbake in the Microwave?

Glasbake was initially designed during a time period in which microwaves had not been invented. As a result, Glasbake kitchenware was not designed with microwaves in mind,  and could potentially suffer damage if microwaved.

With that being said, some Glasbake kitchenware can withstand relatively high temperatures, and some later Glasbake kitchenware may even be listed as “microwave safe.” In order to test whether or not your Glasbake kitchenware can be microwaved, you can put it in the microwave for around ten seconds and check to see if the dish is very hot to the touch. If the dish is too hot to the touch after only ten seconds in the microwave, it is not recommended to use the microwave to heat up the contents of a Glasbake dish.

Is Glasbake Worth Anything?

Unfortunately, vintage Glasbake isn’t worth nearly as much money as vintage pyrex. Most Glasbake pieces sell for between $10-$30. However, there are a few rare and sought-after pieces that can sell for $100 or more.

If you are interested in purchasing Glasbake kitchenware, there are several sites, including: Etsy, Ebay, Craigslist, and Tiger Lily Table, that sell vintage Glasbake glassware.

Furthermore, if you find any vintage Glasbake sets located in your attic or storage, you may be able to sell them. Your rate will depend on the quality and rarity of the items. You can either determine your rates, or have your Glasbake professionally appraised by a vintage dealer, to gauge how much your Glasbake can sell for.

You can also look on sites such as Worthpoint to see how much similar Glasbake items have sold for.

Although it is often overshadowed by its popular counterpart Pyrex, Glasbake kitchenware remains unique in its own right and has a charming array of designs and shapes that are perfect for any vintage lover’s collection. The kitchenware has a rich and interesting history, and the unique design can make many wonder about the contemporary practicality of the dishware. For those concerned about lead contamination, a test will be able to confirm whether or not your Glasbake kitchenware is safe to use. Otherwise, the kitchenware will look lovely in a display case.

Is Glasbake Safe to Use?

Many collectors wonder whether or not the lovely set of Glasbake kitchenware that they’ve recently acquired should exist purely for decorative purposes, or if the kitchenware is also safe to use. The question of lead content and maintenance often contributes to these concerns.

Glasbake can be a lovely accompaniment to any vintage lover’s collection. It can be safe to use if the glassware’s lead content isn’t dangerously high, (although the particularly risk averse may desire to avoid any product with lead at all).  In order to identify Glasbake’s lead content it will be necessary to test the dishware with an at-home testing kit, or have it professionally tested for lead in a laboratory.

Many collectors of Glasbake may be worried about exposure to lead poisoning from their vintage Glasbake collection, due to the reality that a lot of vintage kitchenware contains traces of lead. Lead occurs naturally in the environment, and it can be extremely dangerous and even fatal if one is exposed to the toxicant in high doses. Lead is considered a “cumulative toxicant,” which means that its toxicity is slow acting. 

The effects of lead may not show up for a while, and the poison can linger in the body for extended periods of time. Before FDA consumer safety restrictions inhibited the usage of lead in various goods, lead was often used to produce a glaze over dishware, creating a sleek, shiny finish. These lead compounds could emphasize vibrant colors that are often aesthetically appealing. Source:https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/lead-poisoning-and-health)

Vintage Set of 2 Glasbake Hottle Beverage Warmer 1950s McKee glass
Vintage Set of 2 Glasbake Hottle Beverage Warmer 1950s McKee glass for $45.00 by MaudeTickle on Etsy

Due to the fact that lead exposure can negatively impact the liver, kidney, brain, and bones, it is understandable that vintage collectors would attempt to avoid the ingestion of food or beverages served on lead-glazed or lead-soldered containers, which can be a direct exposure to lead poisoning.

Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults, due to the fact that their bodies are able to absorb roughly five times the amount of lead that adults absorb. This often raises unique concerns for vintage collectors with children.

Although it is widely understood that high traces of lead have been utilized in a lot of Pyrex line kitchenware, the rates of lead in painted Glasbake kitchenware can appear to be a bit ambiguous without direct testing.

For reference, vintage Pyrex is quite notorious for containing very unsafe levels of lead. In fact it is arguable that most vintage Pyrex dishware contains high levels of lead-containing paint, particularly if the kitchenware has an especially vibrant exterior.

Lead Safe Mama tests the levels of lead-contaminants in a variety of vintage products. An evaluation of the lead content in an antique red Pyrex dish, for example, tested at 53,900 ppm (parts per million) in lead content. As a general note, any dishware that has a rate of below 90 ppm (parts per million,) can be considered safe even for children. So a rate of 53,900 ppm is extremely dangerous for both children and adults. Another vintage Pyrex Turquoise Butter print Dish with a similar print found on many Glasbake dishes, contained 30,600 ppm of lead, which is also severely dangerous for both children and adults.  [Source]

For the risk averse, it is always wise to get vintage kitchenware tested for lead content. Lead test kits can be particularly helpful for checking for lead content, especially for dishware produced before 1971.  [Source]

There are a variety of at-home lead tests that one can use to test their vintage kitchenware for traces of lead. It is also possible (and more accurate), to get the kitchenware professionally tested for lead content. The EPA has a list of lead testing locations throughout the United States. [Source]

If you find that your Glasbake kitchenware does not contain higher than acceptable traces of lead, the safety of the dishware is up to your discretion. Otherwise, if you find that the kitchenware contains higher than acceptable traces of lead, the dishware makes for a beautiful display in your home or kitchen.

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