Mason Jars, Ball Jars, Atlas Jars, Kerr Jars, they’re all the rage these days. Thanks to Pinterest and other popular D.I.Y sites. While rummaging through vintage and antique stores, you are sure to come across a few dozen of these little canning jars, in different sizes, colors, shapes, and prices. I have noticed looking at different jars, the price ranges anywhere from $3-and higher. The price all depends on age, condition, and rarity. To the average customer who just wants these jars for fun projects the prices can cause a little sticker shock, so heres some background information and ideas for the infamous Ball Mason Jars.
A brief history
The mason jar was invented and patented in 1858 Philadelphia by a local tinsmith named John Landis Mason. The jars were originally made and still used to can and preserve food. Most of the antique jars are colorless or they have a faint aqua tint, which was originally called the “Blue Ball.” The aqua tint jars became increasingly popular because the tint allowed for less light exposure, making the food last longer and keep its nutritional value.
The most common jars you’ll see while thrifting and antiquing are the clear and aqua. You may get really lucky and come across a rare cobalt blue,clear with light green tint, black, or even milk-glass jars. Unfortunately, you’ll be paying a pretty penny for gems (the black reproductions are going for as high as $95, the green are going for $118!).
Over the past couple years ball jars have become novelty items and are being used in a vast amount of craft projects. Some companies have even turned the design into drinking cups with handles, (I own my fair share of these adorable glasses,) wine glasses, soap dispensers,light fixtures, etc.
How to tell the difference
Thanks to Pinterest this handy lil’ chart will be your guide to ball jar collecting/pricing.
You can also tell the age by whether or not the jar has rings on the bottom of it which indicates it was probably made before 1858, or if the jars have seems along the side it indicates it was machine made probably after 1915.
The majority of the jars are embossed with the Mason patent date, you always check this for age. If you find a jar with unique embossing designs or misspelled words the value of the jar increases dramatically.
-A variety of styles and handmade Reclaimed Art mason holders available at BC