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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Clubs & Associations
- Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors
- Little Rhody Bottle Club
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- Midwest Antique Fruit Jar & Bottle Club
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Alex Da Corte's Haunted House at Luxembourg & DayanBLOUIN ARTINFO, February 28th
As an artist with a marked interest in plastic, as seen in the Hulk Hogan bag, or an in-progress arrangement incorporating a plastic vessel filled with Christmas ornaments and a particularly inscrutable green piece of Ball jar packaging, Da Corte is...Read more
Make the Most of Louisville's Vibrant Food and Drink SceneThe Daily Meal, February 27th
and catfish served on plates plucked straight from your grandmother's kitchen on intentionally worn wooden tables. The fare is light, but delicious. The signature infused, whole leaf tea is served in a Ball jar (naturally) and is the perfect meal...Read more
Lower gas prices bring relief in MississippiLos Angeles Times, February 26th
Now, Mack is dropping the extra $10 to $20 a week she saves into a big cheese-ball jar. She'll empty it later in the year when it's time for her family's annual reunion out of town. "Not as many people came last summer for financial reasons," she said...Read more
Wintertime blahs? We have more for your kids to doWashington Post, February 17th
Kids measure, scoop and fill an old spice container or a Ball jar with the magical ingredients of their choice, then write down their recipes and label their jars with the names of their potions. Pam London and Moley Evans run day- and week-long camps...Read more
Infused water recipesKitsap Sun, February 13th
Combine with fresh water in a 34-ounce Ikea glass jar or a 32-ounce Ball jar and infuse for 2-6 hours. Remove the lemon peel if you are concerned about bitterness. Both Meyer lemons and mandarin oranges are naturally sweeter than regular lemons and ...Read more
What New Downtown Restaurant Openings Say about Palm Springs Food ScenePalm Springs Life, February 13th
It is served in a small glass ball jar, layered with house-smoked salmon, salmon fat and lemon-tarragon butter. photo by lori cohen-sanford. A half pound of burger love is topped with sweet onion-bacon jam, and your favorite cheese (bleu, jack, cheddar...Read more
Portland's Most Creative Ice Cream DreamsPortland Monthly, February 11th
Bar Avignon's Mud Pie Sundae - A Ball jar sweet-bomb, with layers of gooey brownie and ice cream topped with a drippy cloud of Frangelico sabayon, hazelnuts, and brûléed bananas. Lovely's Fifty Fifty's Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream - Cap off your pizza...Read more
Darrell E. Winters, 71Muncie Star Press, February 7th
Darrell had worked as a machinist at Natco, and later at the Ball jar factory in Muncie. He was an avid fisherman and hunter who loved boating and playing cards. He was also a member of the Eagles. Survivors include his sons, Darin (Victoria Duke...Read more