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

SLIDESHOW: Artists from area among top finishers in Rep. Miller's student art ...
New Baltimore Voice Newspapers, April 18th

Noëlle LaRose, a senior at L'Anse Creuse High School, took second in the photography division for her eerie digital photo of a girl imprisoned in a Ball jar, entitled “Trapped in Neverland.” Katie Lensmeyer won third place for her weird photo of knees...Read more

Ball Jar Canning contest: The benefits of gardening – from health to table
DigiNews, April 15th

PROVO, April 15, 2014 — Spring has sprung and for the gardener, this is a busy time. Soil must be tilled and enriched, water lines and sprinklers repaired. Garden spaces must be plotted and planned, seeds and plants then purchased and protected, and ...Read more

Editor's Note: April 2014
Indianapolis Monthly, March 30th

But it's not just restaurants; a legion of Ball jar–bearing practitioners have begun evangelizing preservation at home, too. Comparisons to the artsy-craftsy cast of Portlandia aside, the renaissance of these types of “homesteading” traditions—canning...Read more

Letter from Birdland: Indianapolis Trail connects city, nature
Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette, March 30th

High on the wall is a shelf with glass jars, (the Ball Jar Company was once there) and Garfield, the cartoon cat, is trapped in one of the jars. If it were up to me, I'd rather honor James Dean, who, like Garfield's creator, graduated from Ball State...Read more