Chesebrough Manuf’g Co / Vaseline Jars

“Chesebrough / Manuf’g. Co.  Cd. / New – York”  

            VASELINE JARS

This marking is just one of a variety of embossing variations found on the face of earlier Vaseline (petroleum jelly)  jars made of glass.  Vaseline was patented in 1872 (patent #127,568) by Robert Augustus Chesebrough, doing business as  Chesebrough Manufacturing Company, based in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.   Chesebrough may have been producing his product for a few years before it was actually patented under the name Vaseline.

Some of the earliest jars to contain Vaseline were not marked (with raised lettering embossed in the glass), but merely carried paper labels with the information.  Strong evidence of this can be found on page 57, of Bottles on the Western Frontier, by Rex L. Wilson (1981), in which an unmarked bottle, found at an early fort site in Laramie, WY, has remnants of a Chesebrough label.   The jar illustrated is of a generic style termed a “pomade” in early glass bottle makers’ catalogs.

However, most of the typically found early versions, at least those being made by the late 1880s,  are marked “CHESEBROUGH MFG CO [ arched] above “VASELINE.”  (This style is shown as the first example on the far left in the group of 4 jars).   These jars are typically  made of clear or off-clear glass, handblown, and have tooled lips, styled for a cork closure.

Vaseline jars. Example on far left is one of the earliest types, handblown with a tooled lip, circa 1880s/1890s.

Vaseline jars.  Example on far left is one of the earliest types, handblown with a tooled lip, circa 1880s/1890s.  The others are early to mid-20th century and machine-made.

 

(Note: Some examples may have a faint amethyst tint as a result of natural “sun purpling” if the glass contained manganese as a decolorizer.  Any of these jars that are found in dark purple or strong “grape” amethyst have been artificially irradiated, as they were never produced in that color. See this page on “Artificially purpled glass).

Later versions of the jar, into the early decades of the 20th century, have screw-type lips, and just one of the lettering arrangements would include “TRADE MARK / VASELINE / CHESEBROUGH / NEW – YORK”.  Minor variations in the exact wording is seen on different examples.  These jars are extremely common and are easily one of the most frequently found utilitarian containers in bottle dumps dating throughout the 1880-1970 period……vast numbers of them were made.

Later versions including amber glass types. Circa 1950s-1970s.

Later versions including amber glass types. Circa 1950s-1970s.

 

Most early examples are in clear glass, later,  amber jars were also made – to contain the “carbolated” version.  Few of these containers have glass company identification marks on the base, so it is difficult, or impossible (in most cases) to be sure exactly where a specific example was made.  More information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesebrough_Manufacturing_Company

Later versions of the standard Vaseline salve container have been made of plastic, probably switching over sometime during the 1970s. (If anyone has an exact date when the switch was made to plastic, please contact me!)

In 1987  the Chesebrough Manufacturing Company was purchased by Unilever.  The Vaseline line has gradually expanded in recent years with more products being offered such as lotions and moisturizers.

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