Dating ball fruit jars

For centuries, rural farmers and the poor struggled to find ways to preserve food for the winter.

Soldiers, too, were often left on the battlefields without proper nourishment due to the lack of food-storage solutions.

Once a common, inexpensive, household item, some old canning jars now come with a healthy price tag.

With plenty of reproductions and just plain fakes on the market, collectors must pay attention to the details to get the best picks.

Run your fingers over the glass carefully to check for nicks and chips. Skip jars marked Atlas Mason which are likely produced by a new Atlas company and not of value to collectors. Many reproduction companies list the same date or model number on jars that have been produced over several decades.

Jars carrying this embossing, often with other monograms, numbers, letters, etc., were widely produced until about 1920. The identities of many actual manufacturers are unknown.

Lightning jars represent an important advancement in the history of home canning and are still a part of American culture.

The earliest advertisements for the Lightning jar date back to the year 1885. Putnam was the man behind the marketing of the Lightning jars and making them popular. Putnam also held exclusive ownership of the patents, and for many years, claimed the impressive profits from selling the jars.

The Lightning jars were made by a number of glass companies in several states including Lyndeboro Glass, Lindboro, NH; Edward H. Interestingly, Putnam was living in San Diego at the time but it is not known if any California company made his jars glass.

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