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Yellow Green, SCA, Green & Amber H.F.J.Co. Pints Three of the Four are from the same mold, note crooked S in Mason's.
Consolidated Fruit Jar Co. SCA Pint, Citron Quart, Teal Blue 1/2 Gal,
Three of the latest acquisitions, Amber CFJCo with diamond shaped o, Light teal blue HFJCo with Cross at the top & a letter C linked to a backward C on the base, Amber HFJCo with Cross at the top.
Marsell's Fruit Jar Page!
HOW TO DATE BALL FRUIT JARS! By: Bob Clay
Here is a way to date your Ball jars fairly closely by looking only at how the Ball name is embossed on the jar.
Before we get into the Ball jars, here's just a note concerning "Pontil Marks". I see a lot of jars listed on ebay incorrectly with pontil marks. NO Ball jars were EVER made that had pontil marks. NO 1858 jars were ever made that had pontil marks. The approximately 1" circular mark seen on the bases of some early Ball jars indicates machine manufacture and is a VALVE mark, which let air trapped between the mould and jar to escape during production. There are only a FEW very early fruit jars which have pontil marks, and these have an applied lip of some kind. There was no need on any of the screw lid type jars for attaching a punty rod to the base of the jar (which creates the pontil mark) because the thread area and lip was created in the mould when the jars were made. (not applied in any way) That being said, let's move on to specifically Ball jars.
Ball first started making jars in 1885 in Buffalo, New York. These jars had the intertwined initials of BBGMCo embossed on them which stood for the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company. There are three basic types known and these are called the "Buffalo" jars. (1885-1886)
Shortly after their move to Muncie and new plant startup in 1888, Ball was making Mason's Patent Nov. 30th 1858 jars, many from acquired moulds. Most of these jars were regular shoulder seal type jars, but they also made 1858 jars with the "Improved" type finish that took a glass lid and zinc band. The beautifully embossed "Christmas Mason" jars were produced right around 1890. About 1892 and probably even earlier, Ball began adding their name to some of the 1858 type jars, some on front and others on the back in all block letters. There are several different block lettered jars known; ie just BALL, THE BALL and THE BALL JAR. Then about 1893 they began using a script style Ball, sometimes undercored and sometimes not. These jars all have ground lips. (1888-1898)
About 1895, Ball began using machines (these jars have smooth lips) and began to phase out the old blowing methods. This transition took several years. The machine made jars exhibited a new script style which was never seen on any of their handmade jars. The script style was that of a cursive Ball with an extra loop at the end, known as "3-L" Ball jars. They also continued to make the MASON'S PATENT NOV 30th 1858 jars (machine made smooth lipped varieties) up into the early 1900's. The very first machine made Ball jar is not positively known, but most likely was either a Ball STANDARD or a Ball IMPROVED MASON. This script style was used up until about 1910. Ball produced many jars with this script style, the Ball MASON jars and ones with just Ball and no other embossing appeared right about the turn of the century. (3-L jars c1896-1910)
Right about 1910, Ball began phasing out the familiar "shoulder seal" type jars (the cap screws right down onto the shoulder) and went to a new style called a "bead seal". (the cap screwed down onto a bead of glass at the neck)
Also about 1910, the loop was omitted from the script style. These jars are called "2-L" jars. The "a" in Ball always started with an ascender, and this is called a "dropped a". This script style was used for about 13 years on most of their jars. Sometimes, these are also seen with the underscore disconnected from the word Ball. (2-L "dropped a" jars c1910-1923)
c1913-1914 Ball PERFECT MASON jars began appearing with the PERFECT offset to the right of the word MASON. These are not "error embossing jars" as some think. These are mainly reworked old Ball MASON moulds, where PERFECT was added to them when they changed over to the new bead seal type of jars. These are the first of the famous Ball PERFECT MASON jars, excluding the BOYD/BALL reworked moulds which have all the lettering in block letters. The embossing was centered starting in about 1915.
In 1915, the Ball IDEAL was introduced into the line. Ball had previously made the wire bail type Ball SURE SEAL since the early 1900's. Early SURE SEAL jars were regular size mouthed jars like the Ball IDEAL jars. Later SURE SEAL jars are wide mouth type, along with the SANITARY SURE SEAL series. There are 22 ounce Ball SURE SEAL jars which take a special smaller size Lightning type lid.
About 1923, Ball eliminated the "dropped a" and the underscore altogether and used this style for about 10 more years. (no underscore 1923-1933)
In the early 30's they added the underscore back to the name, sometimes connected, sometimes not. But these jars DO NOT have the "dropped a" as seen with the earlier jars. (added underscore 1933-1937)
Ball added gripper ribs to their jars about 1933-1934 after the acquisition of the Brockway SUR-GRIP patent. (the vertical ribs on the side which enabled better handling)
Ball discontinued the use of their famous "Ball blue" glass in 1937. They had produced and controlled this color since the late 1890's, and it was caused by the minerals in the sand they used in their glass batch (which came from the shores of Lake Michigan) and also the amount of oxygen used in the furnaces to melt the glass.
The "rounded-square" shape was adopted in 1942 as a way to save glass. (the war board required all glass manufacturers to adopt this shape because they determined that it was the most efficient shape to contain a volume)
English measurements (ounces and cups) on the side started about 1956. Ball was the first fruit jar manufacturer to do this.
The logo changed from "open B" to "closed B" (in the closed B style, the bottom of the rounded stroke of the B touches the upstroke) about 1960.
Metric measurements on the side started about 1974.
The Trademark Registered mark (R) was added to the Ball name in 1975.
It is to be noted that there are some Ball jars known that do not fit within this chronology. Between 1900 and 1930, Ball bought out several different glass companies and in many cases, altered these companies old moulds by either simply adding the Ball name or reworking the other company's name to where it looked like Ball. These script styles vary from one company to another and are usually not considered as changes in the Ball name, but merely reworked moulds. Good examples of that are found within the Root/Ball jars, the Port/Ball jars, the Boyd/Ball jars, the Drey/Ball jars and the Pine/Ball jars. Also, it is sometimes impossible to date Ball jars real accurately simply because of the overlap of script styles and different machines they used during the same time frame. And sometimes we can get pretty specific concerning when a certain jar was produced. Ball collectors can generally narrow a range down a bit more by the machine a particular jar was produced on. All dates are to be considered approximate, but close, based on known facts and factors.
I am frequently asked questions regarding reproductions of Ball jars. There are not many. Amber quart BBGMCo jars were hand made by Ball for release in 1976 and are clearly marked on their base. The little 1/2 pint blue Ball PERFECT MASON jars were reproduced about 1990. They are not a true Ball blue color, generally lighter. All of the examples I have seen have either a 3 or an odd shaped 9 on their base. There are three ways to differentiate these from authentic jars though. On the authentic blue 1/2 pint Ball PERFECT MASON, the seams in the thread area will line up straight up and down with the seams in the side of the jar. On the reproductions, these seams will be offset from one another right at the neck. On the authentic ones, there will be a circular rough looking scar on the base indicative of manufacture on the Owen's machine. The reproductions do not have this scar. And the repress are "usually" just a wee bit taller than the originals, but height is not always a good indicator.
ClickHERE to see comparison pics of these half pint reproductions.
In 1975, 1976 and 1977, Ball contracted Wheaton Glass to make their Bicentennial issue Ball IDEAL jars. These jars all have an eagle embossed on the back side and are not to be confused with the older blue Ball IDEAL jars produced from 1915 to 1937. These are replicas of the older Ball IDEAL and have the "open B" script style. The Bicentennial issue Ideals will have a 75, 76, or 77 embossed on their base, indicative of the year of manufacture. However in recent years, these Ball IDEAL jars with an eagle embossed on them have been reproduced in Mexico. The bail wire on these is very flimsy and these jars have NOT FOR HOME CANNING embossed near the heel of the jar and do not have the year of manufacture on the base. And there are also clear examples of this Ball IDEAL with the eagle on the back side being produced in Mexico (since 1999) in very large sizes; 1, 2 and 4 gallon.
One thing that tends to confuse non jar collectors is how to describe a jar's size. Many people just guess at it instead of checking it to be sure. The correct way is to fill the jar completely with water, full to overflowing and measure it, as liquid capacity is the standard glass manufacturers had to go by after about 1920. In other words, a jar had to hold what it was advertised or sold as and most conform to this capacity very accurately. Even though one would not fill a jar that full for canning, that was the most efficient way to standardize the industry. Earlier jars' capacities can be all over the place as there was no real industry standard at that time so if it held close to a quart, it was considered a quart and so forth with other sizes. A very common misnomer is found within the Ball Perfect Mason series of jars. The 1915-1923 series smallest jar people call a "1/2 pint" but is actually much closer to 3/4 of a pint. During the 20s Ball had to conform to the capacity so consequently, that 1/2 pint is smaller than the so called "1/2 pint" of the teens and people automatically deemed it a "1/3 pint". If you fill one with water though, it holds almost exactly a full half pint of liquid. It can be very confusing at times, even to jar collectors. But the best rule of thumb is to always fill a jar completely full and measure it in a glass measuring cup (plastic measuring cups can distort from hot dishwashers) for the most accurate size evaluation.
One other thing that tends to confuse non jar collectors is the dates often seen on fruit jars. Generally, the dates Nov 30th 1858, or July 14, 1908 are the most common seen. These dates in no way indicate when the jars were manufactured. These dates (as well as others seen on some jars) are only patent dates specific to something about the jar. The 1858 date was used well into the 1900's and pertains to the screw type cap. The 1908 date was used well into the 20's and 30's and pertains to the glass lugs the bail wire fits into. So don't be confused by the patent dates seen on a lot of different jars, they have nothing to do with when the jar was actually made.
And just one final word concerning a recent phenomenon that involves certain Ball jars. This concerns the "rarity" of the #13 Ball Perfect Mason jars. These jars ARE NOT rare at all, and the stories you hear about superstitious people or moon shiners breaking all of them for fear of bad luck is an old wives tale, or a tale conjured up by someone to try to make the jars appear rare to the unknowing to jack up the price. While these stories may indeed have "some" merit to them, there are still MANY of the #13 jars out there; far too many to be classed as even scarce jars. And as recently as five years ago, there was NO PREMIUM attached to these jars, it was just another mould number on the base. While the #13 jars are indeed just a little bit harder to find than some other numbers, they ARE NOT rare, or even scarce, by any stretch of the word.
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