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.


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Recent News: Ball Jars

Source: Google News

A Field Guide to Sustainabillies
Huffington Post (blog), August 27th

The Ball Jar Sustainabilly. Canning, pickling, and preserving are common activities that define the Ball Jar Sustainabilly. You'll find a Ball Jar Sustainabilly making sausage, beer, jams, bread and butter pickles, and even artisanal bitters for...Read more

Tufts offers college course on hipsters, and there's nothing ironic about it
Tech Times, August 21st

You can never have too many cat and Ball Jar crafts on Etsy. Surprise, surprise. The "Demystifying the Hipster" course is part of the Experimental College at Tufts, which is full of new, unconventional courses that typically cover what's in the...Read more

Canning can preserve summer flavors through long winter
Kenosha News, August 20th

“About 20 years ago the Ball jar company stopped making canning jars but there has been a resurgence of interest so they're making them again,” said Kate Jerome, horticulture instructor and Urban Farm director at Gateway Technical College. Busy as she...Read more

Beautiful, Bizarre Burying Beetles Act as Nature's Undertakers
Valley News, August 17th

In order to catch burying beetles, I dug a pitfall trap in the garden, and placed a Ball jar in it. Then I fashioned a rough roof out of sticks and a piece of cardboard to keep the rain out. I put the dead mouse in the bottom of the jar, and I went...Read more

Burying beetles: Nature's undertakers
BurlingtonFreePress.com, August 10th

In order to catch burying beetles, I dug a pitfall trap in the garden, and placed a Ball jar in it. Then I fashioned a rough roof out of sticks and a piece of cardboard to keep the rain out. I put the dead mouse in the bottom of the jar, and I went...Read more

Fragments of History That Fit in a Pocket
New York Times, July 31st

As my pockets, hands and purse overflowed, I rejected a Ball jar fragment marked “Wire Side.” But I could not resist an inexplicably intact white cosmetics jar with a molded Greek key pattern and a barely rusted lid. “This is much too addicting,” Ms...Read more