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Historical Background Stories

Posted: June 20, 2012

"HOW FRUIT JARS GOT STARTED"

The year was 1795, and the French army needed a way to feed their armies and offered a four thousand dollars reward to anyone that could solve the problem. A French chef, Nicholas Appert, experimented with the problem until 1810. After fifteen years chef Appert found that cooking the food and putting it in a jar would work and won the reward. The jars didn’t look like they do today. Instead, they were made of stone or crock, and, then, were sealed with a wax lid.
There are many brands of fruit jars, but one of the most common is the Ball jars. Let me tell you about the Ball jars. The Ball brothers started a business in 1880. The business was known as the Wooden Jacket can company in Buffalo, New York. In 1884, glass fruit jars were first made and the zinc caps were made in 1885. In 1886, the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company was incorporated. The first jars had the letters BBGM Co., the company’s initials, on the jar. These jars are very rare and sought after by collectors. Between 1892 and 1896, Ball put it name on the jar, appearing as “BALL” in black letters. Ball didn’t start writing “BALL” in script until 1893, and this form only lasted until 1896. In 1894 wooden boxes that held a dozen jars were shipped to stores. In 1898, the jar caps were changed from zinc to aluminum.
In 1897, the first semi-automatic glass machine was patented by F.C. Ball. In 1898, Ball started buying other glass companies. It bought companies in 1898, 1901 and 1904 they purchased about six companies. In 1898, aluminum caps were made to seal the jars.
There are several ways you can date your jars. One way is to look very closely at all the Ball jars and see if you have seen a square jar instead of round. The reason for the square jar was because of the war. The United States war board in 1942 required all glass companies to adopt the “round-square” shape. They said this shape would allow more volume and save glass. Another way to date your jars is to look for vertical lines on the jar. These vertical lines appeared on jars made from 1933 through 1934 and was called a sure-grip. Ball said this would help you to hold the jar.