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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Collecting Ball Canning Jars



I've always loved blue canning jars and I have picked them up at
thrift stores and even in the auction trash.
But last week I actually bid on two boxes of them!
I knew they were older than most in my collection,
mainly due to the zinc lids.

The roots of the Ball Glass Manufacturing Co. go back to 1880,
when Frank and Edmund Ball of Buffalo, New York,
purchased the Wooden Jacket Can Co.

Originally the brothers manufactured metal cans wrapped in wood,
but when John L. Mason's 1858 patent for a fruit canning jar expired,
the brothers prepared to move into glass.

By 1884 the first Ball jars as we think of them today were produced,
and in 1888 furnaces were fired at a new plant in Muncie,
Indiana.  Between 1888 and 1961, the company
made more than 41 million canning jars, which is just one reason why
 the words "Ball" and "Mason" are virtually synonymous today.



When I got them home and took a closer look at them, I realized
how much I didn't know about the logos!


And I'd never seen one with a well in the lip to hold wax, like the one
above that says Pittsburg, PA on it.


I love the ones that have bubbles in the glass!


And I found out that grey and olive green glass is more rare than blue. 
 One identical to that little squatty olive one sold online for $88!


The prices range quite high!
Would you believe I only paid $4.25 each for these!?


I found this chart very helpful!
It's hard to believe that any jars from the 1800's are still intact today!
Any glass used in the kitchen in a utilitarian
way has much more of a chance of being broken.
It's amazing that there are any around 130 years later!

info from collectorsweekly.com and balljars.net



82 comments:

  1. Cool! Now what are you going to do with them?
    Fill them with pretty things?
    Decorate for a wedding?

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    Replies
    1. I like them empty and in my cabinet in the dining room. ha. I think I'm going to scale back my collection and put the ones I don't want on etsy. Maybe just keep the ones worth the most. Quality over quantity, you know. :)

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  2. Seriously impressed!
    130 years old - they look brand new and such stunning detail with your new camera. Hey, Betsy, it is really coming into its own. You're getting better and better with it.

    There can't be that many so old and in such good condition and you got them for a song.

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    1. Thanks, Eddie! I was pleased with the photos! I think old glass is beautiful in any form. I even like window panes that are old, wavy and with bubbles and distortion. ha. I really should be living in an old house. Well, I guess if I keep living here, it will eventually be old! hahaha.

      I did get them for a song, didn't I? I saw them before the auction started and knew they were at least worth $20 a piece...and that ended up being far under their prices. Some serious collectors online sure do have gorgeous displays, though. It's taken them years to find all the rare, beautiful ones. Very fun to look at!

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    2. Just checking in to see if you have filled the jars with homemade piccallili, chutney, marmalade etc. lol
      Have a good day.

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    3. Sadly, no! But wouldn't they look beautiful filled like that? How about one of toast and one of baked beans? ha.

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    4. Don't forget the gone off egg (with or without its shell), the half cooked sausage, the raw fishcake, the burnt cake, the rancid mackrell and the sprouted potatoes. Glad you got so many jars!! LOL

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    5. Ew! I'm glad they had lids! haha.

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    6. Are they airtight? lol
      I suppose they have to be!

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    7. Of course! Your toast would get stale if it wasn't! hahaha.

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    8. The toast would get stale! You must be joking! The bread was stale before I toasted it!! LOL

      No seriously Betsy - all this frivolity detracts from the beauty of the jars - they are very impressive, so I thought I'd better compose something fitting for this very special ocassion:

      Ode to Betsy's Canning Jars

      They glisten and shimmer, refracting light into a million rays
      Each one defining and capturing bygone days.
      Each one individual with its unique personality
      With a history written and etched with such vitality
      All are different, all with their distict and mysterious sign
      The test of time has served well for their mature design
      For some are old, some very old and some can boast
      They are 130 and now are used for Eddie's toast.

      LOL


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    9. Oh, you are so right. Too much frivolity! They are 'blue' jars, after all! lol...

      Love the Ode. There's no end to your writing talents! Those 130 year old jars are almost as old as you, right? Almost? (ducks)

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  3. I love these jars Betsy! and I have someones too! but I have with spices spaguettis or seeds etc
    These are lovely!!
    xo

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    Replies
    1. Aren't they pretty? All blue glass is pretty, though! haha.

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  4. I think the glass jars are the best I don't like others likw plastic!
    Yesterday I was washung and old glass jar to put something and have someones with shells too!

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    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, I do love shells in old jars!

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    2. yes, plastic is just not the same! oh my! :)

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  5. beautiful and wow, I have never heard of the olive ones, thats a great price!! I only have a couple of the oldies in the blue, they are really rare up here, I use my regular mason jars for storing foo in the fridge an freezer but the really old ones I have I just display, you can still buy the red rubber rings for the old jars with the glass insert in the zinc lids , I still use mine for pickles every year, I suppose I shouldn't, lol,,

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    1. I hadn't heard of olive or grey ones either! Amber, yes...but not the other colors. There is a colbalt and a peacock blue, too. Who knew? ha.

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  6. Thanks for the lesson in canning jar history. Very interesting :-)

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    1. I thought it was. So much I didn't know!

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  7. Those are beautiful and thank you for the history lesson- I love learning about old things! :)

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  8. Interesting. Maybe one of the reasons they have lasted so long is the type of glass and thickness of glass at that time. These days, if you look at new glass sideways, it breaks!

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    Replies
    1. Maybe you're right. I should see how much thinner new canning jars are! Everything was better quality back then!

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  9. I think my eyes popped out at the first bit
    I take it you copy and pasted it lol
    They are quite the find indeed
    Treasure at your feed
    Sell sell sell
    Let Balls fill your well
    Knew I had to use that
    Somehow at your mat

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    1. lol...leave it to you to say
      that at my bay.
      I did a cut and paste.
      Did it make your eyes go to waste?
      You're just falling apart.
      My eyes were fine with the dark.
      lol....

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    2. lol the cat catches all
      just stare at it at your wall
      And it looks like it is popping off the page
      Some 3d type rage
      Been falling apart for a while
      Just add that to the pile lol

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    3. Look I retyped it just for you.
      That is true love at my zoo.
      Wouldn't want you to go blind
      just from reading my lines.
      hahaha....

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    4. lol so much better now indeed
      And easier to read

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    5. If I may enter from a slightly different perameter
      Are you having trouble with your iambic pentameter?

      LOL - Love your poems you two
      Don't always comment but have a chuckle!

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    6. Sometimes I rhyme randomly during the day
      and you can bet I blame Pat in every way! haha.

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    7. Strange to see someone all the time
      Get out their pens and start to rhyme!

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  10. Replies
    1. Me, too! So fun! I've learned a lot working at the auctions, too. Always something new to see.

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  11. Those are really nice, Betsy...I am such a sucker for glass things too!
    Love old wrinkly window panes too....
    I have clear Ball jars, but no colors...your collection is excellent...
    Enjoy your evening...
    Cheers!
    Linda:o)

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    Replies
    1. Maybe a blue one will turn up at the thrift store for you! It'll jump in your cart and say, "Linda, take me home with you!" haha.

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    2. I will keep my eyes peeled.....

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  12. You did great - these are beautiful! I have some of the blue ones, some regular size and some that are extra large. I'll have to check my logos to see how old they are.

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    1. If you have any really old ones, come back and tell me! :)

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    2. That was fun! I have 2 from 1910-1923, two from 23-33, and about 6 from 33-60. Thanks for the info!

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  13. I spent the weekend cleaning out my dad's house. I threw away a lot of "junk" including dozens of ball jars. I don't think any of them were antiques, though. Although you do have me wondering if I should be keeping more of the old stuff to sell at auction.

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    1. I would say yes! Even items from someone's kitchen junk drawer go into the box lots and sell. I wouldn't throw anything out until the auction people come through! Even clear canning jars go at auctions....lots of people still want them for canning.

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    2. Good to get your expert advice, Betsy. Thanks!

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  14. I, too, enjoyed the history lesson! I love old bottles and jars. -- silver fox

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    1. See, I can teach you a thing or two. ha.

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  15. Thanks for educating us on the history of the Ball jars. This is so interesting. The ones you won at auction are beautiful. I know you will figure out just how to use them.

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    1. Aren't they pretty? Of course anything is better with age. ha. I tell myself that all the time now. :)

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  16. You have some very old jars here. I thought my torpedo Ball jars were old but yours are much older than that. You don't have time to write a book but you certainly have the material. I store glass ornaments in some of mine for Christmas.

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    1. Hi, Larry! Wow, it's been a while! I'll have to come visit you. Now you have me curious about the torpedo jars. I'll have to do a search and see exactly what those are! Love your Christmas idea!

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  17. Betsy, how interesting.... I have also loved canning jars and this is such an education. When I met Don, he was friends with Mrs. Kerr and she was the owner of Kerr canning jars. That got me interested and I have several old Kerr, but had no idea the history of the Ball jars, the colors, the wax lip...Wow...loved this..will be keeping my eye out at the thrift store.
    PS..Betsy click on my Creative Tuesday Badge..just found out Mmm wife was in a terrible accident..he posts about it and postpones CT this week.

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    1. ok...I'll check that out...

      I have a few Kerr jars! Not any really old ones though. I'm guessing that Kerr is more prevalent out west and Ball/Mason over here just because of manufacturing locations.

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    2. I don't think they are that old, as Mrs. Kerr was probably in her 70's when Don knew her when he was in High School. I need to go check it out. Funny I hadn't thought about the Kerr jars until you mentioned Ball jars. Oh my I wish I had check with my Aunt Cassie before she passed away... She was a canner for ever!!!

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    3. Betsy, I just googled Kerr Jar History and this was one of the comments. "In 1903, Alexander Kerr invented the wide-mouth canning jar (the Ball company copied this design). The modern 2-piece canning lid was invented by Kerr in 1915." So evidently before 1903 maybe canning jars has smaller mouth...Now you've got me curious.

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    4. Well, the jars I just got that are dated in the 1800's do have smaller mouths! Very interesting!

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    5. From what I read, I think Ball must have bought Kerr, as the new jars say Kerr by the Ball Mason Co....I getting in the canning mood. If Jill has black berries on the trip coming up....I may just be doing that.

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    6. Yum! Blackberries would be beautiful in jars! One of the prettiest things I ever canned was white free-stone peaches. Oh, and they were really good, too!

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  18. wow those are some cool old jars...
    my mom used to can...she has a whole shelf
    of old jars in the basement.

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    1. There might be money lined up on that basement shelf! :)

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  19. I love those Ball jars - use them all the time!
    Mary

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    1. I have put dozens of them to use, too. I love the way they look.

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  20. We love old canning jars. Use to buy them at Flea Markets and sales. Thankx for the information you posted!

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    1. I bet you have some nice old ones in your collection, too!

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  21. How neat!! I love these things too, and actually have a couple of them tucked away somewhere. Guess I'll have to dig them out and compare to your chart to get some kind of date range on them. I think these kinds of things always evoke some kind of romantic notion in my inner being, and I long for those days gone by! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Do you and your wife can your garden produce or do you freeze it?

      Let me know if you find any really old jars! Romantic notions and nostalgia...I certainly agree!

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    2. Yes, we CAN some things and freeze some others.... probably more for the freezer. Either way, it makes some good fresh veggies during the cold winter months! And now I'm planting again, and we still have some left from last year. Loving it!

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    3. I do the same. Freezing is easier, but there's just something about seeing those pretty jars lined up with summer produce that I love!

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  22. Hi Betsy .. love the history here - and the different jars, then the colours, and the wax lip .. all fascinating - no wonder you bid for them .. congratulations .. cheers Hilary

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    1. There was so much I didn't know! So many beautiful antique jars out there!

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  23. Quite a find Betsy, they look useable still, though maybe not with those rusty lids....

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    1. Yeah, the lids have certainly been improved upon in recent years!

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  24. I love the look of these jars also. I still use the jar that was made into a lamp for us from Lynn & Donna....many, many years ago.

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    1. I have that little lamp in my studio! New shade, of course. ha.

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  25. Fallen in love with the stuff..I love anything that is glass..its class apart..

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    1. Yes, I do agree...so pretty and lasts forever! I love how it sparkles!

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  26. WOW Gal - you sure know how to find the bargains! VERY interesting history you shared...here's a link to my blogging buddy Brandie's website...it's a recipe site, but she also shares crafts. This is a cute and simple idea to make lanterns from the jars....=) http://www.thecountrycook.net/2013/04/mason-jar-lanterns-and-giveaway.html

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I'm serving coffee! Stay and chat!
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