Dating old fruit jars

Co of New Jersey Patented July 16 The familiar term Mason Jar came after its inventor, Mr. Mason, who, at age 26, was a tinsmith in New York City. He perfected a machine that could cut threads into lids, which ushered in the ability of manufacturing a jar with a reusable, screw-on, lid.

These jars freed farm families from having to rely on pickle barrels, root cellars, and smoke houses to get through the winter. For urban families, Mason Jars allowed excess fruits and vegetables to be preserved for use later. These are very rare. This date refers to the original patent date, not the actual date of manufacture. Jars carrying this embossing, often with other monograms, numbers, letters, etc. Most were produced in the ss.

The identities of many actual manufacturers are unknown. Value depends on embossing, color and size. Lightning jars represent an important advancement in the history of home canning and are still a part of American culture. Some historians suggest that the term "white lightning" may have been inspired not only from the effect of ingesting homemade corn whiskey but by the name of the jars the whiskey was frequently stored in.

These familiar jars with their glass lids and wire bales are still found in novelty stores today. In , Henry William Putnam of Bennington, Vermont, invented a new kind of fruit jar by adopting a bottle stopper patent by Charles de Quillfeldt. The Lightning jars became popular because the glass lids prevented food contact with metal, the metal clamps were cheap to produce and the lids themselves were much easier to seal and remove. The name Lightning suggested that the jars were quick and easy to use.

Variations of the glass lid and wire-bale scheme of the Lightning jar were produced for home canning into the s. The earliest advertisements for the Lightning jar date back to the year Putnam was the man behind the marketing of the Lightning jars and making them popular. Putnam also held exclusive ownership of the patents, and for many years, claimed the impressive profits from selling the jars. There were also variations of the Lightning jar produced in Australia. A trademark patent was issued to H.

Putnam in for the name Lightning. Interestingly, Putnam was living in San Diego at the time but it is not known if any California company made his jars glass. The Lightning jars come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes and can be a collecting specialty in and of themselves. When first made these jars were often sold as commercial packing jars that homemakers later used for canning. Value of Lightning jars varies greatly.

Price is usually determined by size, style and especially color. There were some reproduction amber Lightning jars from Taiwan produced in the s. They are quart sized and have new and what I would say are sloppy looking wires. They have smooth lips, are dark amber in color and have Putnam on the base. Collectors frequently refer to these numbers as "mold numbers.

Originally when jars were blown by hand, the number represented a specific glass blower and his team. At the end of the day the blower and his team would get paid for the amount of jars they produced as determined by the number of jars made with a given number on them.

Later, when glass making went to machine the numbers represented the mold or machine the jar was made from usually molds per machine or one to several machines per factory. That way the plant manager could check quality control, production, etc. Today you can frequently find numbers on new jars that indicate date of manufacture, plant location, job number, etc.

There is a rumor that jars with the number 13 were more valuable because superstitious people were afraid to can in them, broke them or threw them away.

However, I have never found any concrete evidence to back up this claim. Lately, these jars have sold for more on on-line auctions such as eBay. Square jars were considered a design improvement because a homemaker could stack more jars together in less space thus allowing a family to put up more food in their small cellars or cupboards. Boston, Mass in the late s. Other square jars date from the 20s, 30s and later. The value of square shaped jars tends to be higher than round as it seems that fewer square jars were made.

Lewis Boyd filed a patent in for "an improved mode of preventing corrosion in metallic caps" i. This innovation kept food from coming in contact with the zinc in the screw caps. Boyd was actually one of three men who gained control of the patent for screw caps and jars originally filed by John L. The makers of Boyd fruit jars are different from the "Boyd" milk glass inserts.

Is there a source for new rubber rings to fit these lids? These jars took a round rubber gasket with a tab. The only source that I know of today where these rings can be found is at http: The modern two-piece metal cap and ring with a new jar is the best system for home canning.

It can be dangerous to use the old lids and jars to can today. It is very difficult to determine the age of a fruit jar without seeing it. However, there are a few ways to make an educated guess at the date of an antique jar or bottle. Probably the most important is the presence or absence of a pontil scar.

Typically, American pontil scarred bottles predate or so. Another age determiner is the presence of mold seams. Many of the earliest bottles or jars were freeblown that is, blown without the aid of a mold therefore have no mold seam.

Seams which stop short of the lip indicate that the bottle was blown into a mold then finished by hand by adding a top or tooling the lip into shape.

Machine-made jars dating after about have mold seams extending from the bottom up to and across the top of the jar. Another way to tell the general age of a jar is to examine it from top to bottom. Is the top smooth to the touch or is it rough and ground off? Look at the base of your jar.

If the base of your jar has a round ring in it and the lip is smooth, your jar was probably machine made sometime after the turn of the century but probably before the s.

If the jar has a large, rough and jagged ring on its base, it was probably made between and when the Owens machine was in popular use. Machine-made jars after the s have a more modern look and frequently have small scars on the bottom indicating they were made on more modern, sophisticated machines.

Most jars with rough ground tops were made before The ground lip resulted when the glassmaker ground the top to eliminate the "blow-over. The blow-overs were removed and the top was then ground flat. If you jar is a "wax-sealer" then it was probably made between the s to the s. If you have a clear jar that has turned purple then it was made before WWI when supplies of Manganese Dioxide, the chemical that causes old glass to turn purple in the sun, was cut off by German blockades.

If your jar has gripping ridges on its side that allow a firmer grip on the jar when twisting on or off the lid, then the was made after when these ridges were invented. The best way to determine the exact age of a fruit jar is to consult a research book such as "The Standard Fruit Jar Reference" by Dick Roller or a volume of "The Fruit Jar Works" by Alice Creswick, or ask an experienced collector to look at your jar.

Before the war, canning jars many were actually large, heavy, bulky enamel lined cans were expensive and difficult to use. Wax sealer jars as well as old canning crocks could be appropriate Civil War period examples of canning jars. Some were made during the period. They are more readily available and cost less to purchase than other Civil War era jars. The old original "Crowleytown" masons are appropriate, however, they have a distinctly different look from that of the later "mason jars.

I have another Civil War era jar in my collection with a metal screw lid that has two prongs protruding out of the top. Again it looks different than later jars. The shoulders are more curved and the jar has a heavier more primitive look. The Crowleytowns have the same curved shoulders but are actually light in weight the glass being rather thin.

They also look a little more primitive than jars manufactured later. Another jar pioneer worth mentioning is Adam R. The wax sealers mentioned above, however, go for appx. People have used crockery containers for pickling and storing food for centuries. An early example of a pottery jar used for home canning was what I call a "canning crock.

Others, without grooves, sealed with parchment or cloth. Some of these are civil war era. The jar sealed on the top with a rubber gasket between the top of the jar and a domed crockery or glass lid. The Weir jar was the forerunner of the modern cheese jar you still find at places like Swiss Colony or Hickory Farms. Some crockery canning jars, especially those made in Red Wing, Minnesota are in demand by both jar collectors and Red Wing pottery collectors.

One good example is the Union Stoneware jar that uses a standard zinc lid and rubber ring. In , Mason sold five of his early patents, including the mason jar, to Lewis R. Boyd is most famous for patenting a white "milk-glass" insert for zinc screw lids to theoretically lessen the chances that food would come in contact with metal.

Chambers Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Shop for-and learn about-Antique Fruit and Canning Jars. The evolution of fruit or canning jars parallels the science of food preservation, which itself was. Dating Old Ball Canning Jars. Collecting Old Canning and Fruit Jars. For inquiries specifically related to old or antique reprinted in , it is available for a new generation of bottle collectors. Fruit Jars details the types of containers used for canning fruit, lists jars alphabetically with markings found on the jars and denotes.

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