The roots of the Ball Glass Manufacturing Company go back to 1880, when Frank and Edmund Ball of Buffalo, New York, purchased the Wooden Jacket Can Company. 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.
Ball enjoyed a meteoric rise. Four years after releasing its first glass products (they also made chimneys for oil lamps and other items), Ball had more than 1,000 employees. Innovation and acquisition became two necessary tools to its success. In 1897, Ball invented the first semi-automatic glass-making machine, which standardized sizes and made production cheaper and faster. In 1905, Ball invented the automatic feeder, which streamlined production even more. Additionally, Ball bought out numerous competitors over the years.
For a long time, the ubiquity of Ball jars prevented them from being particularly desirable in the eyes of collectors. However, in recent years Ball jars have gained popularity, due in large part to the lack of intact jars. Some collectors try to accumulate as many jars as they can, from pints to quarts to half-gallons, in colors that range from standard clear, aquamarine, and green to less-common amber.
Others try to acquire jars with various types of logos on their fronts. For example, when the first machine-made Ball jars were produced in 1896, the distinctive script on the front boasted "Ball IMPROVED MASON," with an extra loop after the last "l" in Ball that almost looks like a fifth letter. From 1900 to 1914, the script was shortened to "Ball MASON," while from 1910 to 1914, some Ball jars bore the words "BALL PERFECT MASON" in big, block letters.
In 1969 the company changed its name to Ball Corporation as it diversified its product line beyond just glass into everything from aerosol containers to space systems; by 1996 it had sold its storied glass division. As for the Ball brothers, their legacy today extends well beyond fruit preservation. The family has been quite philanthropic, and Ball State University in Muncie is named after them.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Historic Glass Bottle Identification
Antique Bottle Collector's Haven
Bottle Cap Index
Old Spice Collectibles
Clubs & Associations
- Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors
- Little Rhody Bottle Club
- International Perfume Bottle Association
- Midwest Antique Fruit Jar & Bottle Club
- Findlay Antique Bottle Club
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Ball Jars
Source: Google News
To-go margaritas come with several guidelinesBall State Daily, May 21st
sell carry-out margaritas. He answers some questions about selling liquor to-go below. There are regulations that apply specifically to carry-out drink containers. For Three Amigos, it looks like the sealed Ball jar will suffice. No take-home...Read more
Cleo's to move downtown, current location to reopen as Three AmigosBall State Daily, May 19th
Margaritas-to-go are another hopeful addition. Clements said they still have to work with Indiana excise police and figure out some of the logistics before the mobile margarita is set in stone. For now, the plan is to sell them in a sealed Ball jar...Read more
Esquire's 'Knife Fight' Challenged Us, See What HappenedMonsters and Critics.com, May 19th
But Esquire Network and Chef Ilan Hall did just that, as the Vons delivery truck rolled up my driveway this past Friday and a nice man handed me three bags of groceries. True to the “Knife Fight” challenge, I received three different ingredients meant...Read more
Considering the lighter side of the Hampshire communityColumbia Daily Herald, May 17th
The glass Ball jar sitting on top of the counter at Mack's Whiteside Market in Hampshire contained 49 cents — an apparent compilation of unwanted change from previous customers. Taped to the outside is a typed note with a tiny picture of a light bulb ...Read more
Tough woman sings the blues in HBO's 'Bessie'STLtoday.com, May 15th
Next, Bessie is on the street, drinking moonshine from a blue Ball jar and “fooling around” with a man who quickly gets on her wrong side. Now, she's onstage, singing before a restless audience. Then it's back to childhood, and then into bed with...Read more
Brunch in Bed: Ideas for Mother's DayThe Daily Meal, May 7th
Layer scrambled eggs, bacon, and even some hash browns and cheese into a wide-mouth Ball jar for a delicious handheld brunch. Tie on a fork with some twine and bring up to Mom for her to enjoy while relaxing in bed. Source: At The Picket Fence. Parfait...Read more
Papa John to Ball State grads: 'It's OK to be scared'Muncie Star Press, May 2nd
Then, noting that Saturday was Kentucky Derby Day in Louisville, where he lives, Schnatter took a sip of mint julep from a Ball jar. "Boy, that's good," he said. He told the crowd that after graduating from high school in Jeffersonville he had wanted...Read more
Kentucky Derby cocktail recipes you can bet onIndianapolis Star, April 29th
Boil equal parts sugar and water for about five minutes. Allow to cool completely before using. Hayden also suggests another method: fill a Ball jar with sugar, add equal parts boiling water from a tea kettle, and shake using heating pads. Again, allow...Read more