Object Image
Object Image

In the early nineteenth century, American glass manufacturers developed full-scale piece molds, which were used to create storage jars of uniform thickness and finishing that allowed for standardized closures. This technological innovation revolutionized food storage. John L. Mason produced one of the first successful canning jars, for which he was awarded patent no. 22,186, on November 30, 1858. His jar had a screw-neck with grooves separating the thread from the shoulder. A molded zinc cap threaded onto the jar and created the air-tight seal necessary for longer-term food storage. The first bottles produced for Mason were made by Clayton Parker, a glassblower who worked at Samuel Crowley's small glass shop in southern New Jersey. Mason's business thrived and was eventually moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he became associated with the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company. Mason's initial patent expired in 1875, and by the late nineteenth century, many companies were making jars using Mason's design. The Mason name, however, was already so closely associated with the jars that it became a generic name for the jar. The Ball Brothers began making food storage jars around 1884-85, and their name is also frequently used to refer to this type of jar.

Geography: Probably made in Crowleytown, New Jersey

Culture: American

Period: 19th century

Credit: Friends of American Arts Acquisition Fund

Mold-blown soda-lime glass and zinc
16.5 x 10.2cm
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Yale University Art Gallery
Permanent collection