McKee and Brothers Glass Company were established in 1843 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1852 it opened a factory to produce pressed glass. In 1888, the factory relocated to Jeannette, Pennsylvania and began to produce many types of kitchenwares. The firm was reorganized in 1903 and the name changed to McKee Glass Company. The company joined the National Glass Company in 1899 but went independent again in 1903. The factory continued until 1951 when it was sold and became a division of the Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Co. In 1961 Jeannette Glass Company bought the McKee Division and moved into the McKee Factory the next year.
In 1898 McKee became well known for milk glass covered animal dishes (packing containers). Some of these carried the McKee name spelled out in script, a rare case of company marking at that time. Only the covered animal dishes ever carried that form of their logo mark. McKee was actually one of the first American glassmakers to permanently mark some of its pressed wares when it pressed a script McKee logo into some of its milk glass animal dishes in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. Only those few pieces were so marked, however, and none of its early tableware patterns carried a marking until the Pres-cut line appeared.
McKee CADs are characteristically white, but are occasionally found in transparent colors, and caramel (chocolate). McKee’s milk white glass ranges from a seldom seen chalky white through white with pink, gray, or green overtones. A 1900-02 National Glass Co. catalog reprint notes that the 5” hen and rooster were made in Opal, Crystal, Blue, Amber or Green.
Kemple has supposedly reproduced the McKee hen and rooster. A large number of molds came from the McKee Glass Company. Most important of these were the covered animal dishes with split rib and basket weave base. McKee’s Hen and Rooster had been made in milk glass as early as the 1870s. This statement is very questionable since other sources say that they were produced probably no earlier than the late 1890s. The McKee hen with chicks and rooster tops have been copied by Wright, except they are on scalloped rim basket weave bases. Fenton bought the Wright 5” rooster mould in 1999 and has produced one each year in their Folk Art line. The National Milk Glass Collectors Society bought the Wright 5” hen top and reproduced it in 2003 on Boyd’s split-rib base in chocolate. Boyd produced a one-time Vaseline McKee-type rooster from the Wright mould in 1995.
There is some controversy over whether the McKee split rib base flares out at the top like the other split rib base makers. The lineup on the side is almost straight (straight, but not vertical). Ferson discusses the controversy over the flared vs. non-flared bases and points out that Mrs. Kemple said the bases they used for their 5 inch CADs were original McKee moulds. Copies of McKee HONs found and sold today may have other bases than those made by McKee (e.g. Wright Glass Company hen and rooster have a scalloped rim base). Summit Art Glass Company has put the “McKee” mould mark in several of their covered animal dishes, including the Westmoreland-like 5” hen top.