Dating old ball jars

The best known (or at least most SEO-friendly) collector is Bruce Wayne (yep), proprietor of the online resource balljars.net, where he's posted a comprehensive database of his collection, as well as a company history that curiously omits the 1913 milestone.Then again, that page hasn't been updated since 2010 and—as the marquee on the homepage broadcasts—he hasn't had Internet access "for some time," "only a Smart Phone [sic]." Not that it makes his site any less interesting...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.Look for jars embossed with the Atlas name in raised lettering.

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And as a heritage brand, it's riding the throwback trend—when not used for actual canning, the jars often serve as simple centerpieces at outdoor weddings or as glasses at comfort-food restaurants. There you'll find all manner of ideas of novel ideas for repurposing Ball Jars, including one page dedicated to 101 different uses.Yes, the mason jar certainly harkens back to a simpler time, before refrigerators and artificial preservatives, and now that we take those things for granted, canning has become something of a throwback jam (cue snare)—the vessel once dedicated to keeping and storing foodstuffs is now commonly used as a drinking glass or decorative object.Not that there's anything wrong with that: Unlike, say, the Edison bulb, the design of the mason jar has virtually no room for improvement, and its timelessness is certainly part of its appeal—as an object, it is imbued with nostalgia, thrift and (if you'll excuse another terrible pun) a can-do attitude.Of course, the canning jar didn't come out of the blue (though we'll see that the color has some significance), and its current mass-produced form was refined over the course of several decades in the latter half of the 19th-Century.The term 'mason jar' is, in fact, a generic trademark—à la Xerox, Kleenex, Jell-O et al (fun fact: phillips, as in the screw head, and zipper are also in the mix)—named after John Landis Mason's clever 1858 patent, No. The tinsmith's innovation was to create a seal the lid, as opposed to attempting to make a lid that was flush with the jar: glassmaking techniques of that era allowed for rough threading, but the tolerance wasn't nearly accurate enough to create the airtight seal needed to preserve perishables.

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