Feb 1, 2012

Collecting Fruit Jars (Mason Jars, Ball Jars, Atlas Jars)

The problem with being a collector of many collections is I end up with all kinds of little doodads and whatsits. Its no wonder that within my collection of collections lives a stockpile of storage. I have lots of jars. I've always had lots of jars. Weather I am collecting my brown vitamin bottles to keep beads or buttons or ribbons, or I'm paying top garage sale dollar for a strong shoulder Atlas jar for my collection, I seem to hoard jars. One year for Christmas my mom mailed me a box of Ball masons and a book on collecting them. I even took a trip on the coast of Maine and came back with the required sticks and shells, but the only souvenir I managed to pick up for myself was a pair of aqua, glass lid Ball jars (which I of course filled with moss before loading them in my suit case).

Because a good strong canning jar is built to last and last and last, they are always up for grabs at your local thrift store, second hand store, estate and garage sales. I always keep my eyes peeled for a new jar to add to my collection. Weather or not I am displaying them, I always need more jars. They make great vases! And they are the perfect addition to a home made treat from the kitchen-I was gifted some gorgeous handmade marbled marsh mellows this past winter holiday and they came-for all eyes to view-in a mason jar wrapped with a red ribbon. 

The need for canning jars was a long time coming. Napoleon even issued a reward to the person who could come up with a surefire way to keep fresh food available for his soldiers. In 1858 John Mason applied for a patent for the "Mason Jar." The invention changed food preservation immensely. Canning jars took on many forms after that, each manufacture attempting to improve the seal or lid. The Ball Brothers created the "Ball Jar," which due to popularity is synonymous with the Mason Jar. 
Early Mason Jars Wooden Model/Glass Model

Some collectors strive to collect every single bottle they can. Others look for specific colors. Some are looking for logos with specific fonts or scripts. And some collectors are simply looking for the most rare pieces they can find. This article on Food.com can help you identify your mason jar, as well as this article on ApartmentThearpy. Or if you are trying to date your Ball jar you might find help here.

If you are interested in learning more about collecting Mason Jars, a great resource available is the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors. They host wonderful glass bottle themed events, put out a quarterly and run a large network for other collectors to connect. There are dozens of books out there on the subject. Ask your local librarian to recommend some titles that your library may carry. Amazon.com has a few available for purchase. These may be helpful to your inquiry: "1000 Fruit Jars." (with 2010 pricing),  "Red Book 9, The Collectors Guide To Old Fruit Jars,"  and "A Collectors Guide To Ball Jars."

All of the sweet jars you see here are available for purchase on Etsy. Thank you Etsy sellers for the use of your stunning photos!


  1. It seems that your having a great time collecting Fruit Jars (Mason Jars, Ball Jars, Atlas Jars. I think that those jars would be a great collection on your cabinet. I am also collecting jars with different colors and shape.

    1. I have about 30 quart canning jars with wire close, some white, some blue, 2 Atlas. Would anyone be interested? myskyking@hotmail.com