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A Quick History of Ball® Mason Jars

July 1, 2022

Any self-respecting country kitchen is home to a few Ball® mason jars. Whether you use yours for canning and freezer jam, or you’ve replaced your pint and juice glasses with Ball® jars, there are a few things about these wonderful inventions you might like to know.

A Quick History Lesson

The Mason jar was first invented by John Landis Mason. He created and patented a glass jar to be used in home canning and food preservation. That was back in 1858. His jars, like the jars of today, had a screw thread mouth that accepted a metal band and a lid that featured a rubber ring on its underside. When done right, that gasket could form a hermetic seal to preserve food for a long period of time. It was an invention that changed America and the world.

22 years later, five brothers got together and formed the Ball Corporation. Improving on Mason’s invention, they made canning easier and more accessible to the masses. Ball® quickly became a household name. Today that name is synonymous with America’s past and the hard-working families that built our cities and tamed the land.

Your Grandmother’s Collection

Ever notice the large number at the bottom of some older Ball® jars? Those numbers don’t correspond with a manufacturing date, but rather the mold number. However, because those mold makers are no longer in business, nobody knows what those mold numbers represent.

To date your jars, be sure to pick up a book by Douglas M. Leyboune called The Collector’s Guide to Old Fruit Jars. There are several editions to the book. Jar prices in the book do tend to go up and down according to collector demand. However, the people who make Ball® mason jars and canning supplies say this is the definitive guide.

Feeling Blue

Nothing is cooler than a blue Ball® glass jar, right? Those blue mason jars were mass-produced until 1937 using sand from around Lake Michigan. It was that sand that gave the glass its blue hue. Those blue jars are not rare. However, if you find a mason jar that reads BBGMCo. on the side, you could have a very rare jar. Those mason jars were produced in clear, aqua, and amber colors. Only four amber-colored jars were ever made, making it one of the rarest jars in the world.

Writing the Book on Canning

After World War II, freezer jars and canning became more popular than ever. The Ball company wanted to create a book to help people learn how to preserve their food. The company utilized notes and instructions developed by George A. Ball and his wife Francis in 1909. The Ball® Blue Book Guide to Preserving is now in its 37th edition. Whether you’re an avid canner or looking to start, this is a great book to have in your kitchen.

Modern-Day Canning at Coastal

Today’s canning supplies are manufactured with your time and health in mind, including Ball’s BPA-free lids. Sure, the process is the same as it was over 100 years ago, but now we carry all the supplies you'll ever need to get your canning done right.  Best of all, you'll find it all at you nearyby Coastal.  You can even pick up a copy of the Ball® Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Or just ask one of our friendly folk about canning and how to get started.