Sunday, September 26, 2010

~ Canning Jar Trivia ~

Good morning, everyone!
Ever wonder where those beautiful aqua canning jars that you adore sitting on your shelf really came from
or how old they just might be?

Well, I did a little legwork for you.

So, grab your cappuccino, put your feet up and let me tell you the story...

Once upon a time in 1858, an inventor and tin smith from New York City, John L. Mason, invented the mason jar. He invented a machine that could cut threads into lids, which made it practical to manufacture a jar with a reusable, screw-on, lid. This was the  difference between his design and predecessors, the sealing mechanism:  a glass container with a thread molded into its top and a zinc lid with a rubber ring.  The rubber created the seal, and the threaded lid maintained it.  The jar included his patent: "Mason’s Patent November 30th. 1858."

Ball Glass Manufacturing Company began in 1880 when Frank and Edmund Ball of Buffalo, New York, purchased the Wooden Jacket Can Company. Originally the brothers manufactured metal cans wrapped in wood, but when John L. Mason's patent for his fruit canning jar expired, the brothers prepared to move into glass. By 1884 the first Ball jars as we treasure today were produced, and in 1888 furnaces were fired at a new plant in Muncie, Indiana.

Interesting, huh?

In recent years Ball jars have gained popularity, due in large part to the lack of intact jars. Some collectors try to accumulate as many jars as they can, from pints to quarts to half-gallons, in colors that range from standard clear, aquamarine, and green to less-common amber.

Me?  I adore the aqua colored ones.

Others try to acquire jars with various types of logos on their fronts. For example, when the first machine-made Ball jars were produced in 1896, the distinctive script on the front boasted "Ball IMPROVED MASON," with an extra loop after the last "l" in Ball that almost looks like a fifth letter. From 1900 to 1914, the script was shortened to "Ball MASON," while from 1910 to 1914, some Ball jars bore the words "BALL PERFECT MASON" in big, block letters.

I'll bet that you just ran into your kitchen to check your jars, didn't you?
I know I did!

Now, you're probably wondering about those glass topped beauties?

Well, in 1882, Henry William Putnam of Bennington, Vermont, invented a fruit jar that used a glass lid and a metal clamp to hold the lid in place. These "Lightning jars" became popular because no metal (which could rust, breaking the seal or contaminating the food) contacted the food and the metal clamps made the lids themselves easier to seal and remove (hence the "Lightning" name) . There were many similar glass lid and wire-clamp jars produced for home canning all the way into the 1960s.  Many can still be seen in garage sales, flea markets and on specialty food jars today. 


So, there it is in a nutshell. a canning jar, that is!

And the next time you want to impress your company with some canning jar facts, you know the rest of the story!  :)

{ Hugs }

~ laurie

(I'm linking with Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday!)


  1. Isn't is amazing that something designed in the late 1800's and early 1900's is still desirable today? That is what you would call a timeless look. I love the aquamarine jars too. I don't have any - now of course, I want to scour Etsy to see what I can find. Have a great Monday!!!

  2. Also, before the rails were laid across the country, each area had it's own little kilns set up. There were ones for jars, pottery, bricks and more. These items were much too hard to ship without breakage.
    There were also amethyst jars produced, the rarest now and most expensive to find.
    All these smaller kilns and glass makers went away one by one, just like the blacksmith, when the railroads increased, making transportation of goods more available.
    All about the time the zinc lid ball jars came to be.
    I had a dear old dealer who could tell you were everyone of these places were around here and what jars, bricks and crocks came from which one. Sadly, she is gone now and all her information.
    Sally, even in her late 70s, still wore blue jeans, her blond/silver hair in pigtails, a man's work shirt, boots and the biggest smile you ever seen.
    Her skin was tanned and leathered and she always had dirt under nails.
    Thanks for the memories...I wish you could have met her.
    Hugs- Tete

  3. Laurie- Thanks for all the info. I knew a bit of it-but you did a great job of filling in all I didn't know. I love them too...and I, sadly, got rid of so many of them when we moved thinking I would not use them in this place. Now I am kicking myself and I had zinc tops for most of them...not realzing how hard they would be to replace. *sigh*

    Tete-you added a lot to the information and I would have loved to met Sally...she sounds like a character I would have loved. I am popping over to your blog when I finish this up.

    Hugs to you, Laurie- Hope your week is a wonderful one.

  4. Goodness...what a great lesson to learn! So many people come in the shop and ask the age of these jars ~ now I feel like I can help!! Thank you!!

  5. Those little jars have held their own for so long! They are so beautiful and different from each other. I saw SOO many thins weekend at a flea market, I almost picked some up, but not sure where I would put them. I need a bigger house for all these wonderful things!! Great post Laurie!

  6. Hey Laurie! Thanks for doing all that leg work for us! It was interesting to learn more about the mason jars I collect. I hope you have a fantabulous week my friend!! :)
    Hugs ~ Jo

  7. Hello sister of mine! I'm back from spending a few days with the kids. LOVE this post, and your pictures are WONDERFUL!!! Thank you for sharing this info about the jars.
    Luv ya.

  8. What a great post...I love learning new things.

  9. Wow, thanks for the history lesson. I have a small collection that I love but never really new the history of the canning jars.
    Thanks so very much.

  10. Thank you Laurie! I just came across your blog from the link to Between Naps on the Porch blog. I am in LOVE with your blog and know I will be back when I have much more time!! The history of the ball-mason jar is very interesting! I have a ton of them from my grandma's house that they were going to toss. Most not worth a ton, but LOTS of memories of standing next to her while she was canning all the summer-fall harvest!

  11. I didn't know all of that!

    I just love the aqua ones, too. :-)

    Have a great Tuesday!

  12. I don't have any of these jars, but they do look so beachy (to me)!!

  13. Hi Laurie!
    Thanks for sharing that great info about Mason jars. I can't seem to get enough of them-- I like any that have that zinc lid with them. Last winter Martha Stewart did a special all on the timeline of Mason jars; it was really interesting! Yes, I have moved recently.. 3 years ago we bought our little country duplex (we share a wall with one other unit).. I grew up in a suburb much closer to Chicago that is almost way to urbanized now. Thanks for your warm comment on my post.. I literally threw that together in 2 minutes.. heehee.

  14. Laurie!
    Thank you dear one for the beautiful visit, of course it truly is a heavens walk over here, I love the new header so original.
    Love canning jars more then canning:)
    Oh you have some Galvanized wire baskets on an older post that I breathe deeply for "Sigh" I am enamore with anything wire iron, and metals that are galvanized or gray in color, true age to them.

    I will see your beautiful site soon. I am back to painting some signs for orders.
    be inspired daily girl!

  15. Hi Laurie!

    Thanks for stopping by Sassafras Stuff today via Fiona and Twig! It is nice to connect with you! Very interesting info about canning jars!



  16. Hi Laurie!
    Thanks for writing this up!! It is great!! My Dad collected old bottles and jars and I have a few cases of them in my garage!! (glass lids and zinc bands as well!) Most of them are clear "Crown" sealers made in Canada. I do have a coupel of the precious green ones.
    Thanks again for sharing.
    Warm hugs, Laura

  17. My mother and aunt in their 80's told me the other day about storing cold foods under some bluffs where some water ran, in jars since there was no plastic. and no refrigeration :)


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