Jar collecting, definitely not an activity where one can acquire a varsity letter jacket in, but still is a cool hobby. Mason jars are molded glass jars used for canning stuff, now mostly underground moonshine makers. Production of mason jars started around 1880 and still continues today. Old mason jars are not recommended for canning because the glass is more likely to shatter; however, they can be collectible. The logo is the best way to date old Ball jars, but you may need to consult a value pricing guide to find out accurate information.
Dating Ball Jars By Logo
Look for the word “Ball” located somewhere on the jar. This will indicate that it was produced by the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company in the United States.
Notice if there is a “BB” with an overlaid letter “C” and letter “M.” These letters indicate “Ball Brothers Manufacturing Company.” If so, this was produced between 1885 and 1886.
Notice if the word “Ball” is printed in black letters. If so, this was produced between 1895 and 1896. All later Ball jars were in script, rather than printing.
Check if the word “Ball” is underscored with a line. This line was not connected to the script. It was produced between 1895 and 1896.
Examine the word “Ball”. If it appears to have a third “l” leading to the underscore. This is called the “triple l” and it was produced between 1900 and 1910.
Continue on to the later versions. Find the “a” in the word “Ball.” If it has a line extending into a triangle in front of it, it was made between 1910 and 1923.
The third “l” loop from the previous production was also removed.
Look for a Ball jar without an underscore. The cursive word “Ball” without the underscore was only produced between 1923 and 1933.
Move to the 1933 to 1962 age range. There is an underscore, a “B” with a loop in the center and a very small “a.”
Finish with the word “Ball” with a straight underscore. The lower part of the “B” connects to the letter, unlike all the other jars. This indicates a date range between 1960 and today.
Dating Collectible Ball Jars
Get a subscription to the Fruit Jar Annual. This is often produced by McCann. You can find old copies online or in used bookstores.
Look for copies of the Red Book. These pricing guides for fruit jars were produced by Creswick and Leybourne. They are in Books 1 through 10.
Sign up for a jar collector’s forum. You can post pictures of your mason jars and ask for help with dating them. Another collector may be able to tell you when your jar was made.
Things You’ll Need
Red Book jar pricing guide
Fruit Jar Annuals
Sources and Citations
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