A Look Into Our Collection: Canning Jars

In 1795, Nicolas Appert invented a process for preserving food cooked in a jar and then sealed to eliminate outside air.  In 1858 John L. Mason patented a screw top closure and a glass jar with a unique shape that allowed the jars to be sealed on the narrow shoulder of the bottle.  Home canning became popular beginning in the early years of WWI and continued through WWII when families were encouraged to grow and preserve their own produce. Preserving the surplus from these “victory” gardens proved a great incentive to do home canning utilizing commercially available glass jars.  Many people still practice this method to preserve their crop for later use. The following are only a few of the jars in our collection: Ball Mason's Pint Jar


Pint Ball Mason’s Patent November 30, 1858 Canning Jar

Frontier Homestead State Park Collection

Circa 1886-1896

Ball started making jars in 1885 in Buffalo, New York.  Ball moved to Muncie Indiana and started making jars in the new plant in 1888.  Because they acquired molds from different companies, they used the generic Mason’s Patent November 30, 1858 for a few years.  They added “Ball” beginning 1892 to some jars.  The block lettering and the lack of the identifying “Ball” name makes this jar one of the two oldest in the collection.  Note the rubber seal on the shoulder.  It is rare to have the rubber seal still in place. The shoulder and vanishing threads were the features that John Landis Mason patented in 1858.


Drey Ever-Seal Pint Jar

Pint Drey Ever Seal Bail Top Canning Jar

Frontier Homestead State Park Collection

Circa 1917-1938

In 1882 Henry Putnam used Charles De Quillford’s patented wire toggle type closure with a glass lid in what is called a “Lightning” closure.  Many companies produced this type of jar and closure over the next few years.  Older jars have a wire going completely around the neck to hold the wire bail assembly.  (Note: During America’s Bicentennial of 1976 many reproductions of the lightning style canning jar were made.  Usually the correct year is embossed on these jars, but some are accurate antique reproductions or knock-offs.



Atlas Strong Shoulder Quart Jar

Quart Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason Canning Jar

Lois Bulloch Collection

Circa 1902-1964

The Hazel-Atlas company was in business from 1902 to 1964. During 1940s and '50s, the company was one of the largest producers of canning jars along with competitors Ball and Kerr.  As an innovation when bead seal jars replaced shoulder seal jars, Atlas came up with the Strong Shoulder Mason which has prominent shoulders and heavier glass below the jar neck to prevent the jar from cracking easily.  Cracking on the shoulders was a weakness of the early shoulder seal jars.

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