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
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Ball Jars
Source: Google News
Cocktail Corner: Thanksgiving SipsPalm Beach, November 23rd
For those living in the subtropics, the change in seasons is not so much delegated by weather, but rather a shift in flavors. With the onset of Thanksgiving, fall is in the air. From pumpkin spice to apple and cranberry, the change of seasons has...Read more
5 tips from Bon Appetit for being a good guest on ThanksgivingKGOU, November 23rd
If you are headed to someone's house this Thanksgiving, Bon Appetit's editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport has you covered. "You can't just show up with a bottle of wine," he says. "You need to think about it." He shares tips from the story "Be the Guest with...Read more
Thanksgiving centerpiecesWPTV.com, November 9th
Vinatage Thanksgiving. Decorated Ball Jar and Pumpkin Center Piece. Supplies: Flat Wood Tray Ball Jars in Assorted sizes and finishes. Decorated pumpkins in assorted sizes. Floral Moss Assorted fall flowers and leaves. Flameless Tea Lights. Instructions:...Read more
Locavore: Knack gift packs let you build your own surpriseThe Seattle Times, November 4th
Start with a box, Ball jar or other cute vessel and fill it with snacks, toys, gourmet condiments, jewelry, team gear, air plants — whatever you think will make your recipient happy. The easy-to-use website will tell you when you've filled your vessel...Read more
Revised book is on the Ball for canning informationMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 23rd
And in case you're wondering, the Ball jar is simply a brand of the oh-so-trendy Mason jar (as is Kerr, also a Jarden brand). The Mason home canning jar was invented and patented in 1858 by Philadelphia tinsmith John Landis Mason. Remarkably, the basic ...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
Made From Here: Local artisans pay tribute to the Ball jar tonight at the GuildPitch Weekly, June 19th
From the preserves in grandma's storm cellar to that time you got hammered on girly drinks at that trendy new bar, Ball's glass canning jars have become an iconic part of American culture. This evening, the 130-year-old brand provides an unlikely...Read more