Mason Jar – Short



This Mason Jar circa 1920 – 1930’s.  85 years old.  Height: 13cm  Width: 7.5cm.

A Mason Jar is a glass jar used to preserve food in the home.  The age and rarity of a jar can be determined by its colour, shape mould and production marks.  There are repots that a cobalt blue jar recently sold for US$12,000 and that some rare jars sell for as much as US$30,000!

Many of the Mason Jars acquired by Shop 12 are 80-100 years old in two different sizes.  Place them on the window sill and watch the light glimmer through.  Use for storage of foods, buttons, screws.  Serve salad or drinks in them.  Turn them into light globes in an industrial styled home as featured on ‘The Block’.

Up until 1858 glass canning jars used a flat tin lid held in place by sealing wax.  In 1858 John Mason came up with the idea of a screw top lid.  He invented a machine that could cut a thread into a zinc lid and the jar was then manufactured with a moulded thread on the top.  The result was the first screw top lidded jar with a rubber seal – the Mason Jar.  These jars carry the embossing ‘Mason’s patent date, not the date of manufacture and were made up until 1920 – most in the 1880’s to 1910’s.

In 1882 came the clamped glass lid jars invented by Henry Putnam of Vermont.  These became known as ‘lightening jars’ because of their ease of use and were common up until the 1960’s.  Atlas Jars major advance was the development of the ‘strong shoulder’ a raised lip to prevent cracking of the jar.  They operated from late 1800’s until 1964.  Ball Jars were manufactured first in Buffalo and then in Muncie, Indiana, by the five Ball brothers.  Soon after their operation began they started acquiring smaller companies throughout the US and quickly became the market’s leaders in the industry.

Kerr Jars came onto the market in 1903,when Alexander Kerr founded the Hermetic Fruit Jar Company.  They were the first to manufacture the wide mouth jar for easy filling – a product Ball was swift to emulate.  Many other companies made glass canning jars over the years as well.

Canning Jars came in many varied colours, with the aqua blue and clear the most common.  The green is due to the iron in the sand used to make the glass, while less oxygen in the fire caused the glass to turn blue-green or blue.  The clear glass jars are made by adding chemical clarifying agents to the batch to turn it from blue green to clear.

Ball blue glass jars were only made until 1937.  The deeper blue, dark green and amber shades of Ball Mason jars are among the rarer colours and thus valued more highly.  Some of the darker coloured jars were made to keep out light and help preserve the fruit within, however these were not popular with consumers as it was more difficult to see the contents of the jar.