Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ball jar geekery

Yesterday, Bill and I had a little cabin fever and decided to go on a hot date to Goodwill. I love Goodwill. A lot. Previous purchases include two lamps and an awesome dresser. This time, I just got a single Ball jar. It cost a 7 cents tax.

It's blue! The color comes from the Lake Michigan sand used in the glass as well as the amount of oxygen in the furnaces when it was made. Ball jars were "famously" blue until 1937, and I presume the color was an important part of their brand, as their home canning guide has been called the Blue Book since 1909, even though recent editions have not been blue.

Thanks to the help of the interwebs, we've dated our jar to 1913-1914. The Ball logo on this jar was used from 1910 to 1923:

The offset "Perfect" (due to the reworking of old molds for a new purpose) was used in 1913-1914 - it was centered in 1915.

There are markings on the bottom - 4 and H. These are mold numbers which identify the machine and mold that made the jar.

It's also round, as Ball jars were until 1942. The current rounded square shape was said to be more efficient by a WWII war board.

I am completely enamored with my old jar. Like my roman oil lamp, I could spend hours wondering about its functional history. There is something magical to me about the basic tools of the past. This old jar could have preserved the contents of a victory garden. The woman who initially filled it didn't have the right to vote. What did the jar hold during the Depression?

Bill likes to think it was squirrel brains.

I won't be using it for canning myself. It's a little grotey for food and the rim has been chipped, which means a seal would be unreliable.

I'm thinking that during its time with me, this jar will hold mostly wildflowers. Hopefully, it will be part of a little collection of neat old jars.

One of my current Ball jars is holding my second batch of homemade yogurt. It is delicious, as expected. I used this recipe with the powdered milk. Yum! We have just a tiny bit of yogurt left from a local diary and Bill refuses to eat it...I guess it will be the culture for our next batch!

1 comment:

  1. my favorite bit of jar trivia is that the square shape was not more efficient for canning, but for using as bombs! yup! they used to pull the pin out of grenades and put them into jars, then drop them from planes, when glass broke grenade was released and lots of damage done from blast due to glass and grenade combo


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