Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Canning jars

Above the china cabinet at my parents house there's a bunch of old jars used for canning. Or jarring. Is jarring a thing? [searching...] Yes it is. It just sounds weird.

Jars. For jarring. 
These jars came from the barn of my recently deceased grandmother. She, however, wasn't involved with the jarring of the food. Ok, maybe some. Many of the jars can be proven to predate Grandma and we're pretty sure that a lot of the contents did, too. Mostly because that's what Grandma implied.

You may have caught what I implied. You're right. There's still food in the jars. No, not the ones on top of the china cabinet. But what you see lined up three deep in my parents' kitchen is only part of the collection. Several more boxes are in the garage, Dad's barn, and my brother's basement. I've been able to identify cherries, sliced pickles, what we're assuming are peaches, a few other things, and several jars full of dark unknown organic material.

I started wondering about how old the jars REALLY were. Several hours of research found quite a bit. Here's a few highlights

This first jar is one of the oldest. The cap is made of zinc. The rubber seal may not be as old as the jar, but it's fairly old. You can see the "Ball" logo has a loop at the end. This loop makes it look like there's a third L and tells me the jar was made between 1896-1910. Grandma wasn't born until 1919.

Extra loop at the end makes it a Balll jar.  1896-1910
The next picture isn't great, but this is a Drey jar.

Drey was made by Schram Automatic Sealer Company, founded in 1904.
Production of Drey jars started in 1917. Drey was bought by Ball in 1925. Ball continued to make them for 13 years. While every other jar company marked prices way down during the Great Depression, Ball kept their prices high to give their line a reputation for quality. They sold the Drey stuff as their discount line so they could have it both ways. This puts the production of Drey jars between 1917 and 1938. If you look closely you can see the words "EVER SEAL" under the word "Drey". Since the words are not centered I'm taking this to mean this jar was made by Schram instead of by Ball.

Drey Ever Seal. Circa 1917-1925

These next jars are from the Atlas company. They were in business from 1902 to 1964. A discouragingly long time if you're trying to date the jars. (note: they just want to be friends) These jars with the cloverleaf were made from 1915 to 1930.

If you look at the bottom of this jar you can see a trademark in the middle. An H with an A between it's legs. The trademark was registered in 1923. I'm taking that to mean that the jar in this next picture was made between then and 1964. It's also the only thing that was identifying this jar as being made by the Hazel-Atlas company. The sides were blank.

Bottom of a Hazel-Atlas jar.

The Acme jar below was a real pain to find anything about. They were only made from 1920 to 1930. 

Perfect for preserving roadrunner. Never used.
I apparently didn't take any pictures of the Presto jar. They were made from 1927 through the 1940s. I've been led to believe they were made for export.

I've got a few other Ball jars with different logos. The one with the underline and the leg on the A was made from 1910 until 1923. The one without the leg or underline was made from 1923 to 1933. The patent number says 1908, but that doesn't mean as much as the logo. The letters are kinda sharp, too. That's a nuance of that mold. The molds were hand made. This mold maker had a slightly The underline came back in 1933.

The letters on the one on the right are kinda sharp, too. That's a nuance of that mold. The molds were hand made. This mold maker had a slightly more stylish handwriting. You can also find ones with "perfect" misspelled or where it looks like the mold maker came in drunk and was really sloppy with his mold.

This last one, like the first, I found in my brother's basement. There were none of these at my parents' place.
The Kerr company was founded in 1903. Jars were made until 1957. I should have gotten the lid in the picture. That could help narrow it down quite a bit.

Still full of century old horrors. 

Other information.
Mason Jars refer to the screw top variety because it was invented by a guy named Mason. They came in shoulder seal and bead seal varieties. If you look back up at the first jar you'll see that the lid screws all the way down to the shoulder of the jar. The bluish Ball Perfect Mason jar just two pictures up from here has a lip or bead that keeps the lid from screwing down quite so far. I think you can work out which jar is called which.
The rest of the jars shown here have that wire that locks the lid down. Those are wire bail lids. They're also known as lightning jars since you can close them as quick as lightning. It's thought that the drink white lightning got it's name because you'd drink them from these jars.

I include my references below to help you and to help me next time I take up this task. I recommend checking out in particular. Scroll clear down and you'll see a graphic that is incredibly useful for dating Ball jars by the logo. I'm not including it here by request of the creator. You gotta check out their site.

References. Jars

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story of your jars.