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
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Henry's Majestic Is Making Bar-Food MagicDallas Observer (blog), December 17th
Had the slice of sour cherry pie I ordered at Henry's Majestic been served traditionally, I probably would have forgotten about it. The crust was flaky and tender, with a vaguely toasty flavor and a hint of salt, and the fruit was firm and plump, with...Read more
The Nosh Pit: Hanukkah Recipes for KidsShalom Life, December 15th
It could get messy, but it will always be memorable. Every week in the Nosh Pit, we'll lead the gathering of an impassioned group of foodies, offering delectable dishes, seasonal treats, and other goodies to nosh upon. We'll introduce the timely...Read more
Holiday HelperWestport Magazine, December 12th
If you are a guest, bring an edible hostess gift. “I love making thyme biscuits and honey butter in a ball jar so they have something for the next morning. Or bring a box of cookies with milk for that night. Whatever you decide, give them something...Read more
Moonshine Is Invading Dallas BarsDallas Observer (blog), December 11th
I'd also seen moonshine at weddings and other celebrations. It was typically passed around in a Ball jar that had previously been used to put up a surplus of summer tomatoes. The first sip of moonshine burned your mouth, your throat and all the way...Read more
25 Days of Giving: Gifts in JarsThe Daily Meal, December 2nd
Layering your favorite recipe mix in a quart-sized Ball jar is a simple yet personal gift idea. It's also perfect for kids to make as teacher gifts; simply layer recipe ingredients and tie with decorative ribbon. You can even add a customized recipe...Read more
Business Insider: Bizarre indexes can help gauge the economyIndianapolis Star, November 30th
The Ball Jar Index has two indications. Increased sales mean tougher times since more people are preserving fruits and vegetables — or they're buying the jars to bury money in the backyard. •In the Car-Sale Closing Time Indicator, the economy's...Read more
BORN IN A BALL JAR: DIY lightsBall State Daily, November 24th
No matter what holiday you celebrate, there is a certain charm and joy in strand lights. However they can be a little simple and while adding light, usually look raw and unfinished. Here are two ways to dress up your lights and make them look like a...Read more
BORN IN A BALL JAR: DIY Advent CalendarBall State Daily, November 17th
Get bags that can be bought in a decent amount, making sure that they are big enough for any prizes you have. I found mine in the Halloween discount section. I cut the handles off them to make them easier to deal with later. 2 Using my marker, I wrote...Read more