Your Old Mason Jar Could Be Worth A Fortune
ShareTap Staff 2/15/2017
Some things around us seem so ubiquitous that life seems unimaginable before their existence. Phones, computers, the TV, all seem like obvious contenders, but this story is about something much simpler, much cheaper, which still managed to revolutionize the way Americans stored their food.
We speak of the Mason Jar, of course! Invented in 1858, by John Landis Mason, it was a first of its kind to have a threaded neck, screw-on lid, and a transparent glass body. Until then, the general public had struggled to consistently perfect heat based canning using cork, wax, and opaque walled containers to preserve food safely. Can you even imagine!?
Canning might be past its hay day now, but Mason jars continue to be manufactured today by various companies with little alteration to the original design. And still being a cheap and reliable product, their use ranges from the obvious canning, to storage, and even decorative and craft projects.
Flickr/Rory & Yoojin
Getting back to the meat of the matter, we are not here just to talk about the ordinary mason jar you can pick up at the store. We are interested in sharing the secret world of those priced beauties that are now worth a lot more than when grandma bought them back in the day.
Three general rules to remember are that the collectable ones are the Mason jars mostly manufactured by Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company; the older the jar, the more it is worth; and finally the ones that are cobalt blue in color are the holy grail - fetching as much as $10,000 to $15,000 each by some estimates.
Several websites out there can help you determine the age of your Mason jar, which can be easily determined by the logo on the jar. Ball Brothers went through several logo modifications over the years, all of which were incorporated in the manufacturing of the Mason jar. As such simply referring to the evolution of the Ball Brothers logo helps determine a good estimate of the manufacturing year for the jar.
Many people are thrown off by the big number on the bottom of the Mason jar, thinking it might be a model number. However, sources say that it is simply a mold number used to determine potential bad jar molds in the manufacturing process.
So just how much money are we talking? The range varies from a few dollars to thousands. Here are a handful of examples - Upside-Down Ball jar is valued at $1000; the 1910 green-shaded Lightning jar can fetch $400; the 1915 Self-Sealing jar, which is more common can bring in about $40 each. Needless to say, it pays to keep an eye out for these specific jars.
Speaking of the legacy of the Mason jar, Bill Lindsey, a collector and an expert in the matter looks at this simple pantry product as the glass industry itself since before its mass production, there was no glass industry to speak of. John Landis Mason, who despite his genius invention died a poor man, would certainly have been surprised and proud!
Sources: NYTimes, Dusty Old Thing, Minnetrista, Country Living, Image Credit: Flickr/frankieleon