Frequently Asked Questions -- Fruit Jars

From: Dave Hinson <>

Summary: Assorted answers to questions frequently asked about fruit jars and related items.

Last-update: October 5, 2002.

Fruit Jar FAQ c. 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Dave Hinson.

Version 1.01

I make no claims or guarantees that the information contained in this document is the definitive truth. The information has been obtained from various sources or based on my collecting experience and is true to the best of my knowledge.



1 Styles, types and embossing.

1.1 What is a Mason Jar?

1.2 What is a Lightning Jar?

1.3 What do the numbers [on the bottom/sides of jars] mean?

1.4 Are square jars unusual?

1.5 What is a Boyd cap and what kind of jar does it go on?

1.6 What type of rubber ring went with the zinc caps that have a white porcelain inner side? Is there a source for new rubber rings to fit these lids?

2 Historical information and dating.

2.1 How can I tell the age of my old fruit jar?

2.2 What are good examples of Civil War era jars?

2.3 Were crockery vessels used in home canning?

2.4 What was the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company?

3 Colors of Jars

3.1 Why do some old jars turn purple?

3.2 Are amber or olive green, jars worth more and why?

3.3 What about pink (light green, blue, yellow, and etc.) color pint jars?

3.4 What's an irradiated jar?

4 What is it worth?

4.1 What is a good book on pricing jars?

4.2 How much are my Ball, Atlas, Kerr or Mason jars worth?

4.3 I have a box full of jars that are currently sitting in my garage.

5 Tell me about my...

5.1 Atlas jar.

5.2 Ball jar.

5.3 Kerr jar.

5.4 Root fruit jar.

5.5 Crown jar.

5.6 Foster Sealfast jar.

5.7 Drey jar.

5.8 Presto jar.

5.9 Jar embossed "Duraglas"?

5.10 Four-gallon Mason jar with an Eagle embossed on the reverse.

5.11 Ball Jar that has the embossed words "Perfect Mason" spelled incorrectly.

5.12 Jar with "Ball" on the bottom.

5.13 P Lorillard Co/Geo. Helme. Co of New Jersey Patented July 16 1872.

5.14 Mason (star emblem) Jar

5.15 Mom’s (picture of a woman) Mason Jar

5.16 Kinsella 1874 True Mason

5.17 Knox (K in keystone) Mason

5.18 Golden Harvest (cornucopia) Mason

5.19 Lamb Mason

6 Suggestions for collecting

6.1 Advice on how to start collecting or to get back into collecting.

6.2 Can you recommend a good book on the history of jars or jar makers?

6.3 How do I go about selling my old jars?

6.4 How do I subscribe to the Fruit Jar News?

7 Reproduction jars

7.1 What are some examples of reproduction fruit jars?

7.2 How can you spot a reproduction?

7.3 Ball commemorative canning jars from 1976.

7.4 Do you know of any sources of new jars with glass lids?

8 Bibliography


Subject: (1) Styles, types and embossing.

Subject: (1.1) What is a Mason Jar or my jar is embossed with "Mason's Patent Nov. 30th 1858"?

The familiar term Mason Jar came after its inventor, Mr. John L. 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.

Historians believe the first jars were made at Crowleytown's Atlantic Glass Works, in Crowleytown, New Jersey. These are very rare.

These jars carry the familiar embossing "Mason's Patent Nov. 30th 1858". 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., were widely produced until about 1920. Most were produced in the 1880s-1910s. The identities of many actual manufacturers are unknown.

Value depends on embossing, color and size. Common mason jars are worth about $6 but some rarer versions can be worth $100 or more to collectors.

Subject: (1.2) Tell me about my Lightning (Lightning style) jar.

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 1882, 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 1960s.

The earliest advertisements for the Lightning jar date back to the year 1885. Mr. Putnam was the man behind the marketing of the Lightning jars and making them popular. Mr. Putnam also held exclusive ownership of the patents, and for many years, claimed the impressive profits from selling the jars.

The Lightning jars were made by a number of glass companies in several states including Lyndeboro Glass, Lindboro, NH; Edward H. Everett of Newark, OH; Hazel Glass of Washington, PA; JP Smith of Pittsburgh, PA; Moore Brothers in Clayton, NJ; Mannington Glass of Mannington, WV; Wellsburgh Glass and Mfg. of Wellsburgh, WV; Poughkeepsie Glass Works of Poughkeepsie, NY; the Hawley Glass company of Hawley, PA; and two Canadian glass makers Sydenham Glass of Wallaceburgh, Ontario and Dominion Glass Co. of Toronto. There were also variations of the Lightning jar produced in Australia.

A trademark patent was issued to H.W. Putnam in 1905 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 1980s. 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 227 on the base. These jars are worth about $15. There could be legitimate Lightning jars with Putnam 227 on base, although I've never actually asked anyone if they have one in their collections. Once you've seen a few repros it's pretty easy to spot one on a table.

Subject: (1.3) What do the numbers [on the bottom/sides of jars] mean?

Collectors frequently refer to these numbers as "mold numbers." However, in some cases, this term oversimplifies what the numbers represented.

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. I.E. glassblower #3 made 200 jars that day and he and his team therefore gets paid X number of dollars at X cents per jar produced. Later, when glass making went to machine the numbers represented the mold or machine the jar was made from (usually 4-8 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.

Subject: (1.4) Are square jars unusual?

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. Square Jars were made for the Smalley Fruit Jar Co. Boston, Mass in the late 1890s. 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. A number of different companies did make the square style jars as the design wasn't exclusive to any one manufacturer.

Subject: (1.5) What is a Boyd cap and what kind of jar does it go on?

Lewis Boyd filed a patent in 1869 for "an improved mode of preventing corrosion in metallic caps" i.e. the glass or "porcelain" lining. 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. Mason in 1858. "Boyd's Porcelain Lined Caps" or zinc screw lids for mason jars were made well into the 20th century (at least the 1950s) and were interchangeable with the millions of mason jars made by hundreds of different manufacturers.

The makers of Boyd fruit jars are different from the "Boyd" milk glass inserts. Some of the Boyd jars were made by the Greenfield Fruit Jar and Bottle Company in Greenfield, IN while others were made by the Illinois Glass Company/Illinois Pacific Glass Company. These jars date from the 1910's and 1920's and have no relation to Lewis Boyd.

Subject: (1.6) What type of rubber ring went with the zinc caps that have a white porcelain inner side? 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 or you can get boxes of the old gaskets on eBay.

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.

Subject: (2) Historical information and dating.

Subject: (2.1) How can I tell the age of my old fruit jar?

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. The pontil scar - a ring of glass or a black and red iron-like indention on the base of a bottle or jar - indicates that a glassblower held the item on a pontil rod (when the glass was hot) while the neck and/or lip was shaped and finished by hand. Typically, American pontil scarred bottles predate 1855 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 1915) 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 1930s. If the jar has a large, rough and jagged ring on its base, it was probably made between 1900 and 1930 when the Owens machine was in popular use. Machine-made jars after the 1930s 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 1900. The ground lip resulted when the glassmaker ground the top to eliminate the "blow-over." The blow-over was a gob of glass at the top of a jar that the glassblower used to attach a blow pipe when the jar was blown by hand into a mold. 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 1860s to the 1890s.

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 1930 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.

Subject: (2.2) What are good examples of Civil War era jars?

The manufacture of fruit jars really didn't take off until after the civil war. Before the war, canning jars (many were actually large, heavy, bulky enamel lined cans) were expensive and difficult to use. Mason's patent was issued in 1858 but it wasn't until the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company began making jars after the war did the Mason jar really begin catching on. Later, another major jar manufacturer and Consolidated's bitter rival the Hero Fruit Jar company (Hero being in reference to the civil war. The jars carried a 'Hero's cross' as the company's trademark) fought in court with Consolidated over patents.

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." There were also jars made in New Jersey that utilized glass lids and metal clamps with thumbscrews. 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. Samuel of the Keystone Glass Works, Philadelphia, PA who made Civil War era jars with heavy glass stoppers.

Because mason jar and fruit jar making really didn't take off until after the war, many Civil War era jars are rare and collectible, some going for thousands of dollars. The wax sealers mentioned above, however, go for appx. $30 and the canning crocks probably just a little more.

Subject: (2.3) Were crockery vessels used in home canning?

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." These were wax sealers with a groove in the top where a metal cover was placed and wax poured over the cover into the groove. Others, without grooves, sealed with parchment or cloth. Some of these are civil war era.

Manufacturers used Mason's patent on crockery canning jars as well as the famous Weir patent of 1893 utilizing a cast iron clamp pivoting on a wire bale. 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. Red Wing, Minn. was a huge pottery town and many people specialize in collecting items made only in Red Wing. One good example is the Union Stoneware jar that uses a standard zinc lid and rubber ring.

Subject: (2.4) What was the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company?

The Consolidated Fruit Jar Company was in business at New Brunswick, New Jersey from 1871 to about 1908. In 1859, Mason sold five of his early patents, including the mason jar, to Lewis R. Boyd and Boyd's company - The Sheet Metal Screw Company. 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. In 1871, for a brief period of time, Mason became a partner with Boyd in the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company. Consolidated hired other glass makers to blow their jars, including the Clyde Glass Works, Clyde, New York, the Whitney Glass Works of Glassboro, New Jersey, and the A. & D. H. Chambers Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Subject: 3 Colors of Jars

Subject: (3.1) Why do some old jars turn purple?

When manufacturers produce glass, chemicals (clarifying agents) must be added to clarify the batch in order to turn it from its original color of aqua-blue or green to clear. Prior to the start of the First World War, manufacturers used Manganese Dioxide as their chemical agent of choice to clarify glass. When a jar or bottle turns purple from sunlight, manganese dioxide is the substance in the glass that reacts with sunlight to cause the color change. Russia was the primary source of this chemical.

When the First World War broke out, our source of manganese dioxide was cut off by German blockades. This sudden loss left glass manufacturers in a quandary and forced them to use another chemical, selenium, to clarify glass. After the close of the war, manufacturers did not return to the use of manganese dioxide. Selenium does not cause glass to react to sunlight like manganese does, thus glass clarified with selenium does not turn purple. Knowing this fact and the history above, collectors have another way to date their glass collectibles. If your jar is purple, it is a pretty good bet it was made before W.W.I.

Subject: (3.2) Are amber or olive green jars worth more and why?

Yes, jars in amber, cornflower blue, olive green, etc. are worth more because fewer of them were made and they are in great demand by collectors. The amber jars were made that way as an attempt to keep fruit from turning brown. The amber glass kept out the harmful effect of light rays on the contents of the jar. However, the jars were less popular with homemakers because the contents were more difficult to see.

Some jars were made in a dark green color to make contents like olives, for instance, more attractive to buyers. However, most olive green jars were made from batches of jars (often at the end of a day) that had impurities in itself. Consequently, these jars were fewer in number and due to their "imperfection" frequently discarded.

In the case of the Kerr Self-Sealing masons found in cornflower blue, the company was trying to make green jars for a customer but the glass kept coming out in the wrong color.

These off color jars are easy to spot by anyone who has seen a few jars here and there. The colors are usually quite dark and profound. The darker and more unusual, the higher a collector will pay.

Subject: (3.3) What about pink (light green, blue, yellow, and etc.) color pint jars with dates of 1858?

These jars have the Mason Patent Nov 30th 1858 on the front and a raised almost cross like emblem on the back. The lid it has is not like the zinc ones, but appears to be aluminum.

Actually, the pink jar is a new reproduction from China. They have been turning up in antique malls for outrageous prices but they're worth about $4-$6 each. The regular old zinc lids don’t fit right and the aluminum lids are new and shiny giving away the jar's recent manufacture. These reproductions are copies of the old Hero jars made in the 1880s. (See more on reproductions below.)

Old jars were not made in the same colors as these reproductions.

Subject: (3.4) What's an irradiated jar?

In industrial facilities, radioactive substances are available that some people have used to expose old glass in an effort to change its color. Since the radiation in these substances can be especially potent, the change in color may be astonishingly deep. Usually these jars are either dark purple or kind of a sickly dark brown color depending on what chemical originally was used to clarify the glass. If the jar contains manganese dioxide, when irradiated it will turn a deep (in some cases almost black) purple. If the jar contains selenium, it will turn an opaque brown color. Sometimes these deep brown jars are sold, either inadvertently or intentionally, as real amber jars. If you have any doubts, ask an experienced collector. One way you can tell if a jar has been irradiated is to bake it in an oven. A collector in Michigan set an irradiated jar in a 200° oven for 2˝ hours and the color disappeared. (Placing your valuable old jars in an oven could cause them to crack, so be careful!)

Subject: 4 What is it worth?

Subject: (4.1) What is a good book on pricing jars?

To learn more about the value of fruit jars I recommend the Red Book of Fruit Jars #9 by Doug Leybourne. You can order the book post paid for $35 from the author by writing him at P.O. Box 5417, N. Muskegon, MI 49445. You can also purchase the book on-line at

Subject: (4.2) How much are my Ball, Atlas, Kerr or Mason jars worth?

Well, the Ball, Kerr or Atlas jars tend to be fairly common. However, some jars can be worth more depending on the actual embossing. (Especially dealing with Ball jars.) Jars with unusually bright colors are worth more. These were generally made at the end of a run and contain sediments and chemicals that color the glass. Amber colored jars tend to be worth more than clear or aqua jars, but this is not a hard and fast rule either.

If the jars are "Ball Perfect Masons" or "Ball Ideals" and blue in color they are probably worth in the neighborhood of $5 ea. This will be true of many (but not all) of the old blue or aqua colored Ball jars. If they are clear they will probably be worth $1-2 each. There are some odd and different Ball jars that are worth more including any misspellings of "Perfect" you find. The old original Ball jars from Buffalo, New York are very collectible. It’s kinda hard to judge without seeing what you have or without further information. It's noteworthy that the square jars are a little less common and go for about twice as much as their round cousins.

Mason jars were made by a wide variety of manufacturers over a long period of time. Some are quite valuable depending on certain quirks of embossing. Others, well, they are worth in the neighborhood of $5-$10 each.

Check your Red Book or consult an experienced collector.

Subject: 4.3 I have a box full of jars that are currently sitting in my garage.

The jars are made by Kerr, Atlas, Presto, and Ball. Most are in quart size, a few are pint size, and a few are half gallon size. Most are clear in color but a few are the aqua green/blue color. Most are wide mouth and a few are small mouth.

Your jars sound like 30s and 40s era. Those you named are the main four companies producing jars at that time. The Presto jars were actually made by Owens-Illinois in Toledo. The other companies, Kerr was located in Sand Springs, OK, Atlas in Wheeling WV, and Ball in Muncie, IN.

It hard to place a price on individual jars without seeing them or knowing exactly what they say. Sometimes color or spelling variations are worth more. Also there always seems to be one oddball in every lot. People used to trade a jar of this for a jar of that and therefore you'll sometimes find an odd name or two in a box of jars.

Check your Red Book or consult an experienced collector.

Subject: 5 Tell me about my...

Subject: (5.1) Atlas jar.

The Hazel-Atlas company was in business from 1902 to 1964 until they were purchased by the Brockway Glass Company. Their headquarters was in Wheeling, WV. The company came into being in 1902 when the Atlas Glass Company of Washington, Pennsylvania and the Hazel Glass Company of Wheeling merged to become one company. Their specialty was the manufacture of fruit jars.

Most Atlas jars are relatively common, however, there are a few exceptions. The Hazel-Atlas company made such familiar jars as the Atlas E-Z Seal, the Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason (the neck didn't crack as easily as the traditional shoulder seal mason jar) and the Atlas H over A Mason. In the 40s and 50s Hazel-Atlas was one of the "big three" jar makers along with Ball of Muncie, IN and Kerr of Sand Springs, OK. Owens-Illinois of Toledo also made many jars during this period of time.

Some jars embossed "Atlas Mason" are new product jars produced by a company using the old Atlas name.

Subject: (5.2) Ball jar.

Although the Ball company did not necessarily advance the technology of home canning, per se, it did make a major contribution to the industry by becoming the most prolific producer of jars.

In the early 1880s, William Charles Ball, 35, and his brothers Lucius, Lorenzo, Frank C., Edmund Burke, and George Alexander began making wood jacketed tin cans at Buffalo, New York, for the storage of oil, lard and paints. In 1883 the brothers switched to glass oil "cans" and then, three years later, to fruit jars. After fire destroyed their plant in Buffalo, the brothers moved their operations to Muncie, Indiana, where natural gas had been discovered. The city offered free gas and a generous amount of land to rebuild the company.

The Ball Brothers seemed to possess all of the talents we associate with successful business people today.

They built a fruit-jar empire by mass producing and distributing trainloads of jars across the country. They aggressively took over several other smaller companies in order to maximize their hold on the industry. One good example was in 1909 when Ball took over the Greenfield Fruit Jar and Bottle Company in order to gain control of the Owens automatic bottle making machine license, a significant business opportunity they passed up some years before in favor of their own jar making machine. After all, factory automation significantly reduces labor costs, even back then. The Owens machine did just that by cutting labor costs and dramatically increasing production.

Some of the more commonly known Ball jars include the ubiquitous Ball Perfect Mason, the Ball Ideal and the more modern Ball Mason. Some old Ball jars are very valuable while others are very common. Because of a wide variety of variations collecting only Ball jars has become a major collecting specialty.

Subject: (5.3) Kerr jar.

One of the most significant advancements in the history of home preserving came with the invention of the Kerr Economy and Kerr Self Sealing jars. Alexander H. Kerr founded the Hermetic Fruit Jar Company in 1903. Mr. Kerr arranged for the production of the Economy jar utilizing patents, (two 1903 patents held by another man, Julius Landsberger of San Francisco,) calling for a metal lid with a permanently fastened composition gasket.

The lids were easy to use and inexpensive. The Economy jars had wide mouths and were easy to fill. In August of 1915, Mr. Kerr invented a smaller, flat metal disk with the same permanent composition gasket attached. The lid sealed on the top of a mason jar; a threaded metal ring held the lid down. Now the homemaker could re-use her old canning jars while taking advantage of the easy-to-use Kerr lids. These inventions made the Kerr company one of the "big three" jar makers in the 40s and 50s along with Hazel-Atlas of Wheeling, WV and Ball of Muncie, IN.

Subject: (5.4) Root fruit jar.

I always thought Root was a great name for a fruit jar because fruit jars were often kept in "root cellars." When I first saw a root mason, that's what I thought the name meant. However, the name has nothing to do with a root cellar. Rather, it's the name of the glass company that made the jars. The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute Indiana was named after its president Chapman J. Root and made Root fruit jars from 1906 to 1909. In 1909 the company (at least the fruit jar part) was purchased by the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company. The jar plant was closed in 1913. Owens-Illinois acquired another part of the Root company and operated one of the company's plants until 1932.

An icon of American history, the famous Coca-Cola bottle, is also an interesting historical side note to the Root story. In 1916 the Coca-Cola company asked various bottle manufacturers to design a unique Coca-Cola bottle. Almost a dozen designs were submitted and studied by a committee of seven bottlers, who met at the 1916 bottlers’ convention in Atlanta. The committee’s final selection was a design submitted by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana. The well-known hobble skirt Coke bottle.

A somewhat scarce jar made by the Root company is the Hollieanna Mason. Judging by its more modern design it was probably produced later than the Root mason (by the Owens/Illinois division of the company.) The jar itself was produced for a grocery store concern called Oakley.

Original zinc lids for the Root masons are extremely scarce and sought after by collectors. Root masons themselves aren't terribly rare and list (in common aqua) about $8 for the pint, $6 for the quart and $10 for the half-gallon.

Subject: (5.5) Crown jar.

Canadian Crown fruit jars can be quite common, and were made by several different Canadian manufacturers. A few rare variations do exist, however. It's kind of hard to tell without seeing your jar, however, if any have ground lips they would be worth more. Sometimes Crown jars have variations in the shape of the crown itself or extra embossing that makes them more valuable. Most of the clear ones from the 40s and 50s are worth about $1 to $3 each.

Subject: (5.6) Foster Sealfast jar.

Foster Sealfast jars were made from 1908 to 1925 by different glass companies for the AM Foster Co. of Chicago, Illinois. Many of the Foster jars were probably made in Indiana as the concern purchased a glass plant there in 1911. Otherwise, they paid other glass companies to make jars for them.

There is another jar that just says "Sealfast" on it that also belongs to this family of jars. Also a "Trademark Sealfast". All of these jars should have "Foster" embossed on the base.

The 1/2 pints are worth $8. Many of the other jars are worth about $4-6 each. There are some of these jars in aqua and blue colors and are worth about $10 because of the color.

Subject: (5.7) Drey jar.

Drey jars (pronounced dry) were made from about 1917 through the 1920s by the Schram Glass Mfg. Co. of St. Louis, MO and later by the Ball Brother's company. Leo Drey and his partner James Hiatt patented a jar design that called for round glass bosses on bail type jars. Capitalizing on the name Drey, Schram glass made several bail and mason type fruit jars including the Drey Ever Seal ($5-$10), Drey Improved Ever Seal ($4-$6), Drey Mason ($2-$4), Drey Perfect Mason ($10-$15) and the Drey Square Mason ($6-$8). Half gallons and half pints in these jars list for more. Ball Brothers took over the Schram company in 1925.

Subject: (5.8) Presto jar.

Your Presto jar was made from the late 1920s through the 1940s. It was made by the Owens-Illinois glass company in both Toledo, Ohio and San Francisco, CA for the Cupples Co of St. Louis, MO.

The value of a Presto jar is perhaps $5 unless it's a half-pint which is $15 or more. Some half-gallons are also more valuable i.e. $6-$8.

Subject: (5.9) Jar embossed "Duraglas"?

Those are commercial product jars (mayonnaise, pickles, etc.) from the '40s through the '60s. The Owens Illinois Glass Company of Toledo, OH registered the trademark "Duraglas" on September 23, 1941 claiming its use since November 1940. They are not considered to be particularly rare and usually are not listed in fruit jar books.

Subject: (5.10) Four-gallon Mason jar with an Eagle embossed on the reverse.

This is a display jar that was never intended for canning but was used in stores to display items such a pickles or beef jerky. Owens-Illinois Glass Co. Libbey Glass Div., Toledo, OH, made them in 1975. However, as a go-with, these jars are somewhat popular with some fruit jar collectors. It was produced in four colors: clear, aqua, smoky amber and cornflower blue. These jars are worth about $50 each. A smaller version of this jar (worth much less) was still made in the 1990s and might be found in restaurant supply stores such as Smart and Final.

Subject: (5.11) Ball Jar that has the embossed words "Perfect Mason" spelled incorrectly.

The ubiquitous Ball Perfect Mason was the most produced fruit jar in the 1930s and 1940s. It stands to reason that the "perfect mason" sometimes wouldn't be so "perfect." There are seven known spelling errors of perfect known.


All of these jars are listed at $15 each.

Subject: (5.12) Jar with "Ball" on the bottom.

"I found a small round jar with "Ball" on the bottom. The "all" of Ball is underlined just like a Ball fruit jar. Other #'s and letters are also on the bottom. What have I found?"

It's probably a newer product jar. In recent years Ball has made many containers (glass, plastic and metal) for the food and beverage industries and the Ball logo is even found on soft drink cans. According to their website, Ball makes more than 35 billion beverage cans annually at 25 plants in North America. Occasionally I see salesman samples of these cans at swap meets. In 1996 Ball stopped making glass containers for the food industry. However, Ball-brand home canning jars continue to be sold by Alltrista Corporation under a licensing agreement with the company.


Can you identify my jar? It is an amber quart with an unusual closure a spiral metal clamp. There is no embossing on the jar only the name on the bottom P LORILLARD Co. The lid is embossed with GEO.HELME.CO OF NEW JERSEY PATENTED JULY 16 1872.

Your jar originally held snuff. The P. Lorillard company of New Jersey was a major distributor of snuff from the 1870s through 1900. This jar is of interest to collectors because the original paper label recommended the use of empty jars for home canning. The closure on your jar is called a "Cohansey" closure and was popular on packing jars of the time. Your jar is worth about $35 complete with label and about $20 without.

Subject: (5.14) Mason (star emblem) Jar

The Mason “star” Jars were made in the 70s and are fairly common. These jars were made by the Owens-Illinois Glass Co., at their Alton, IL Plant. Some of these jars have screw tops while others have glass lids and wire bales.

Subject: (5.15) Mom’s (picture of a woman) Mason Jar

These jars are common and can still be used for home canning. The Home Products Division of the Ohio Container Co., Columbus, OH, made them in the 1970s. The jars were made at various glass plants.

Subject: (5.16) Kinsella 1874 True Mason

Your Kinsella jar was actually a coffee jar that many later used for home canning. It was made between 1935-1940 probably by the Owens-Illinois company for the Kinsella Coffee Company. The coffee company was founded in 1874, but the jars are not that old. As far as I know that jar only comes in a quart size and in a salt/pepper shaker. The quart is worth about $8.

Subject: (5.17) Knox (K in Keystone) Mason

The Knox jars were made in the 1940s by the Knox Glass Bottle Co. in Knox, PA The pints and quarts are worth about $6. The half pints and half gallons are of greater value to collectors.

Subject: (5.18) Golden Harvest (cornucopia) Mason

This jar is common and made in the late 1970s by the Glass Containers Corp. of Fullerton, CA.

Subject: (5.19) Lamb Mason

Your jar was made between 1930-1945 by the Lamb Glass Co.of Vernon, OH. It lists around $5 or $6.

Subject: 6 Suggestions for collecting

Subject: (6.1) Advice on how to start collecting or to get back into collecting.

I would first get a copy of the new Red Book (if you don't already have the current one.)

Secondly I would recommend that you subscribe to the Fruit Jar News out of New Jersey. If you happen to have any jars for sale or trade you could run an ad in the newsletter and have people send for your list. Otherwise you could run a wanted ad. Also include your email address in all correspondence or ads. Having email is great as you can just attach a copy of your list to your email or a dealer can send you their list via email. I've gotten good jars this way.

There are also fruit jar pages on the web where you can post wanted and for sale ads or search for jars. If you want to look at an on-line sales list so that you can get a general idea of the price of some jars then check out John Hathaway’s jar website at

If you ever get out to Indiana you should also check out the twice-yearly show of the Indiana fruit jar club. Fruit Jar collectors from all over the country belong to the Indiana club so if you would like more info on the club I could also get it for you. Usually attendees visit each other's rooms between show hours and a lot of jar talk and swapping goes on there.

You could also run an ad in Bottles and Extras, or become a Federation member, which entitles you to a free ad every year. Many fruit jar collectors are members of the Federation. See the website at The Federation also maintains a list of bottle shows you might be able to attend and club meetings you might be able to attend. Many jar people attend local shows and are members of local bottle clubs.

Join the Fruit Jar Collectors Internet Group (Selling is not allowed on the list itself but there is a section to list jars for sale and your wants.)

Visit the website

Subject: (6.2) Can you recommend a good book on the history of jars or jar makers?

All of the major fruit jar research books out there are out of print. There has been some discussion about reprinting Dick Roller's "Standard Fruit Jar Reference." There is also the two part Creswick book entitled "The Fruit Jar Works" and two classic books from the 1970s namely "Bottle Makers and Their Marks" by Julian Harrison Toulouse, 1971 and "A Collector's Manual, Fruit Jars" by Julian Harrison Toulouse, 1969. For the research minded, before his passing, Dick Roller published "Fruit Jar Patents Compiled by Dick Roller," 1996 and "Indiana Glass Factories Notes Compiled by Dick Roller," 1994. The latter book is a history on the earlier glass factories of 65 Indiana towns.

Subject: (6.3) How do I go about selling my old jars?

You should make a list and then determine how much your jars are worth by consulting a reputable price guide. (Like the Red Book.) Once you know what you have and what it's worth, swap meets are always good places. If you have a booth or know of anyone that has a booth at an antique mall you could try that. You might even try selling them at a yard sale. We sold a few at a yard sale once, advertising the jars in the newspaper, and the several people came out, even a guy from the power company with his rig. So you never know. If you have any better jars to sell then you might try putting out a sales list or put them up on an on-line auction like eBay. You can advertise a list in any bottle or jar related publication like the Fruit Jar News or Bottles and Extras. If you have a lot of jars to sell, and you think they would be of great interest to collectors, consider buying a table at a local bottle show.

Subject: (6.4) How do I subscribe to the Fruit Jar News?

You can subscribe to the Fruit Jar News (formerly newsletter) by writing to: FJN Publishers Inc. 364 Gregory Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052-3743. Subscription rate is $14 postpaid.

Subject 7 Reproduction jars.

Subject: (7.1) What are some examples of reproduction fruit jars?

1. There have been new reproduction fruit jars from China turning up in antique malls for outrageous prices but they're worth about $6-$8 each. The regular old zinc lids don’t fit right and the aluminum lids that come with them are new and shiny giving away the jar's recent manufacture. These reproductions are copies of the old Hero jars made in the 1880s. As a collector these new jars usually have a poor quality to their color and the glass has a slicker than usual feel. The lips and the screw threads don't look right either. These new Chinese reproductions are coming in light green, light blue, light pink and light cobalt.

2. There were also some reproductions that were made in the 70s that are much better quality than those above. The colors are truer, they have ground lips and the old zinc lids fit correctly. Collectors have paid $75-$100 and up for some of them.

3. In the early 90s some reproduction Lightning half-pints started showing up in apple green, amber and aqua. These jars are distinguishable due to their smooth lips and unusual and new looking wire bales. Also, the apple green color is a give-away -- it's bright and unique.

Subject: (7.2) How can you spot a reproduction?

It is widely accepted that the first reproduction jars were some wax sealers made in Mexico. They were made in the colors of black-amber, emerald green and olive green. Since then other jars have appeared, some which have risen to become collectors items in their own rite and others, like the recent reproductions from China, will probably never be worth a lot to collectors.

Sometimes mold seams can give a reproduction away. On some reproduction jars the mold seams are offset and out of line with the neck bead. Sometimes the hardware will look new or out of place i.e. bale wires that are not tied in the way you would expect them to be. Often times the glass has a greasy feel to it and the colors are not like the colors you would expect to see in an old jar.

The black glass reproductions have a purple tint to their coloring. The old original black glass jars usually have a green or brown tint to them. Hold a black glass jar up to the light and you will be able to tell.

Probably the best way to protect yourself is to buy from reputable dealers and if your are in doubt about an item ask an experienced collector. The best teacher for spotting reproductions is experience.

Subject: (7.3) Ball commemorative jars from 1976.

The Ball Bicentennial jars were made from about 1975-1980 by Ball and another manufacturer. Value depends upon capacity. The half-pint and half-gallons are worth about $20 each. The quarts, which were the most common and sold in grocery stores all across the country in 1976, are worth about $6 each.

Subject: (7.4) Do you know of any sources of new jars with glass lids?

You can try the following Internet sources:


Subject: 8 Bibliography

Creswick, Alice: The Fruit Jar Works, Volumes I & II. Published by Douglas M. Leybourne, Jr. N. Muskegon, Mich., 1995.

Leybourne, Doug: The Red Book of Fruit Jars Published by Douglas M. Leybourne, Jr. N. Muskegon, Mich., 1993, 2000.

Roller, Dick: The Standard Fruit Jar Reference. Acorn Press, Paris, Ill., 1984.

A Primer on Fruit Jars by David Hinson. Internet:

The Fruit Jar Collectors Internet Group