The History of the Mason Jar

Mason jar

Mason jars are a Wares of Knutsford best seller, used by customers for all sorts of preserving and crafty endeavours.

What is a Mason jar?

Modern Mason jars are a style of clear glass container with an embossed logo. They are straight sided and round in shape with a two part lid – a separate, heat sealable metal disc and a matching screw band. These lids, used properly, create a completely sealed container for foods.

The Mason jar was created by John Landis Mason, a tinsmith from Philadelphia, who patented his idea in 1858 – ‘Patent Nov 30th 1858′ was embossed onto the sides of the jars for years. Mason’s system was so effective that his jars were made in their thousands and in a number of different sizes, shapes and colours. Jar closure systems were a fairly hot topic at the time and a number of patents were issued for different sealing methods from 1860-1900. The more unorthodox ideas were short lived and can be valuable antiques pieces today, but Mason’s patented idea has stood the test of time. Early examples of his bottle style have become collectors’ items, particularly those in rarer shapes and colours.

How did the Mason jar come about?

Early glass jars were sealed with wax – a messy and unreliable system for preserving food. When Mason came up with his more convenient screw on zinc cap system, this quickly became the most popular way to seal jars. The French Kilner tops were also popular in those early days, using a stiff wire to clamp a ceramic stopper with a rubber seal onto a bottle. Both of these systems are still in use as sealing methods today.

Mason’s real breakthrough was to make threaded lids, which made the jars clean and easy to use and re-use compared to the complicated flat tin lids and wax seal of earlier times, which could also only be used once. The clear, manganese bleached glass allowed people to see the contents of the jar easily while Mason also used a simple rubber ring to create a seal. The Mason jar was affordable, allowing people to do their own preserving.

Mason’s system was emulated by competitors, so you may see jars in the same style made by the brands Ball or Kerr.

Wares of Knutsford can supply Mason jars in a variety of sizes and spare lid parts.

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