Dating old ball jars

A recent article in Creativity describes a perfect storm of circumstances: The recession fueled a resurgence in home canning and DIY projects while Americans' focus on healthy homemade and artisan foods made with fresh ingredients has been a boon for Ball.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.Well, believe it or not, that wasn't too long ago in actuality.One of the primary ways of showing another collector what the embossing on a jar actually looked like in those days was through a process called "rubbing."Good ol' days indeed.February 7, 1888, a Certificate of Incorporation was filed for the Ball Glass Works of Muncie.On February 18, fires were started in the furnace, on February 26, the blowers began to arrive and on March 1, the first products were made.

I'll spare you the countless DIY tutorials, how-to guides, craft projects, rainy-day activities, etc., that are just a few keystrokes away, but suffice it to say that this generation has wholeheartedly embraced the iconic vessel as a shorthand for Middle American values.

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.

As the story goes, Frank and Edmund—two of Lucius Styles Ball and Maria Polly Bingham Ball five sons (a sixth, Clinton Harvey, died in infancy)—borrowed 0 from an uncle to buy a kerosene can company in upstate New York in 1880.

Although the vessels were made of tin, the cans were lined with a glass container to prevent corrosion.

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By grinding the lip of the glass until it was nearly flat (known as a 'square shoulder') and inserting a simple rubber gasket inside the lid, Mason achieved a sufficiently airtight seal, and his namesake was born.

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