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.
Interviews & Articles
At one of our Findlay Bottle Club meetings, Jeff passed around a fruit jar that was a smooth-lip Mason's 1858, but in the familiar… [more]
One of the most common fruit jars ever produced is the lowly Ball jar. Historical figures show that from between Sept 1, 1894 unti… [more]
My maternal grandfather and uncle got into bottles in about 1965 or ‘66 when I was in high school, and we started digging. My uncl… [more]
I started as a collector and I’m a web designer, so I thought I would design a website from my passion. I threw it up there and pe… [more]
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Recent News: Ball Jars
Source: Google News
From Portland, a DIY coffee maker for your Mason jar collectionMother Nature Network (blog), May 20th
cozy (the expected post-crowdfunding retail price is expected to be in the $119 range). A pledge of $149 will get you the complete kit plus two 12-oz cozies and a T-shirt. The deadline is June 14. Coffee drinkers and Ball jar enthusiasts, are you...Read more
District's top teacher advances to state competitionfwdailynews.com, May 14th
On Monday, the students were anxious to see their tadpoles. My special education student, who had spoken very few words all year, walked right up to her Ball jar and exclaimed, “That is not Princess … she used to have spots!” I will never forget that...Read more
Best Bet: Brooklyn Grange's Flower CSANew York Magazine, May 6th
Members pick up weekly twenty-stem bundles, arranged in a quart-size Ball jar for the first share and wrapped in paper with a flower-food packet the following weeks. And unlike your shipped-from-afar bodega bouquet, these homegrown botanicals are...Read more
Opening day at Iowa Speedway getting closerRadio Iowa, May 6th
He says the races are fun to watch and says “It's kind of like watching bees fly around a Ball jar.” The season begins later and will end earlier this year. The final race, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is on September eighth. Armstrong says...Read more
Breaking Free of Bacon and Eggs: What's Your Breakfast Ritual?Houston Press (blog), April 29th
Pour the grease in a Ball jar atop layers of congealed pork fat like so many tree rings. Cut off a tiny pat of butter and swirl it around the pan to catch all of the leftover bacon on the bottom. Snap my wrist back and forth two times in a quick...Read more
Violet V. LienMason City Globe Gazette, April 24th
She lived with her sister and family in Zanesville, Ohio, when Ken was in the army and worked at the Ball jar factory there. After Ken was honorably discharged from the service, they lived in Lake Mills, later moving to Ute, and Northwood, Iowa, where...Read more