Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation

Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company (“Corporation” after 1927)

Portland, Oregon (1904-1912, offices only)

Los Angeles, CA (1919-1992, offices only)

Kerr did not actually manufacture glass during the earliest period from 1904 to 1909, but had glass made for them (with the Kerr name embossing) by other companies.    In 1909 their first glass manufacturing plant opened at Altoona, KS.  (Also see “A H K” entry).

GLASS MANUFACTURING PLANTS

Kerr had glass manufacturing plants located at:  Altoona, Kansas (from 1909-1912);  Sand Springs, Oklahoma (beginning in 1912); Huntington, West Virginia (from 1933; this plant closed December 7, 1982 – information from Mike Harmon); Santa Ana, California (from 1943); Plainfield, Illinois (from 1964); Dunkirk, Indiana (from 1968); Millville, New Jersey (1968- see more information on the Millville location at the Whitall Tatum Company page) and Waxahachie, Texas (from 1968).

Kerr is most well known as producers of several kinds of fruit jars used for home canning. (They also produced large quantities of other types of glass containers, especially in later years).  Their most famous and important fruit jar in the early years was their “Kerr – Economy” jar, made in large quantities at their plants in Altoona, KS and Sand Springs, OK.  Many of the earlier ECONOMY types are marked with the words “KERR GLASS MFG. CO” embossed on the bottom, and in general those jars probably date mostly from around 1904 to circa 1920.  Other jars made in later years include their “Self Sealing” Mason,  which was made in many different types and sizes including the “wide mouth” varieties.   For anyone learning more about the different Kerr jar types and their market values, I would encourage them to consult the value pricing guide used by most advanced fruit jar collectors: the so-called “REDBOOK” of fruit jars.

The Kerr glass plants were bought by Ball Corporation in 1992, (Ball later left the glass container business altogether, and sold the plants to Saint-Gobain Containers, now Verallia).

The rights to the “Kerr” brand name, as used on currently-made fruit jars, was held by the Alltrista Corporation, and jars marked “Kerr” that were being produced [in 2006] were actually made by the Anchor Glass Container Corporation at their Winchester, Indiana factory location.  Altrista Corporation is now [2012] known as the Jarden Corporation (Jarden Home Brands).

Modern jars with the “Kerr” brand name embossing are sold (along with “Ball” jars) through Jarden.

Also, see entries on  other fruit jars such as the “Ball Perfect Mason“, Wax Sealer style jars,  and Patent November 30th 1858 jars,  and the pages on the Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation and Hazel-Atlas Glass Company.

This page is under construction, with more information and pictures to be added eventually. Thank you!

Click here to go to the Glass Bottle Marks pages (page one).

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10 Responses to Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation

  1. Debbie says:

    I have some purple Kerr jars and on the bottom it says Portland, Ore. Does this mean these jars were made in Portland? What can you tell me about their age?

    • David says:

      Hi Debbie,
      The Portland location was where Kerr business offices were located from 1904 to 1912. (Information from page 159 of “The Fruit Jar Works, Volume II” by Alice Creswick, 1987). Although some jars are base-marked with that city name, they were actually made at other locations, which are listed in my text on this page. The jars with the Portland embossing presumably were made sometime between 1904 and 1912. Also, your jars were originally clear when made, and depending on the shade of color, they are either “sun-purpled” (a pale lavender/purple color from being exposed to sunlight, called SCA — sun-colored-amethyst) or, if a very dark purple, they have been artificially “irradiated” or “nuked”.
      Best regards, David

  2. Barbara Plebuch says:

    One hundred years ago on August 31, 1915 the patent was granted for Kerr Wide Mouth Mason Jars and Kerr Mason Jars “self sealing brand”.
    Barbara

  3. Linda Marion says:

    Kerr canning jars have a number on the bottom, what is the highest number on the jars?

  4. dwayne p says:

    Tyro, Ks was the 1st plant, Altoona, Ks was the 2nd plant, they both moved by wagon and set up new plant along the Arkansas River at Sand Springs, Oklahoma. 1 & 2 began making chimmey glass, once arrived in Sand Springs chimmey glass & ” TIG ” only 3,000 made for a local star company was telegraph insultators very short time, thing the plant began glass jars. [ Chimmey Glass is known as Glass Lattens for households , railroad uses } My sources or my family members from working at AHK ssok I have reseach back to 1902 Kansas/ ssok. family photo of all 3 locations ldp

    • David says:

      Dwayne, thanks for your information, which I will post here. I have also found some information from an early reference book “History of Oklahoma”, by Joseph B. Thoburn, published in 1916, which includes a note about the Tyro, Kansas firm which was, as far as I understand, strictly speaking not a Kerr plant, but was started by someone (Charles H. Hubbard) who was *later* involved with the Kerr plants at Altoona, KS and Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

      Quoting: “At the expiration of the period noted above Mr. [Charles H.] Hubbard initiated his association with glass manufacturing by assuming the dual office of secretary and treasurer of the American Lamp Glass Company in the City of Evansville Indiana. After holding this position about two years he removed to Peru, Chautauqua County, Kansas, where he held a like position with the Swartz Glass Company this association continuing about three years. In 1909 Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Joseph C Kelly established a glass factory at Tyro, Kansas and at the same time he became assistant manager of the Kerr Glass Company at Altoona, that state, but still retaining his position as business manager of the factory at Tyro in which he was interested.
      In 1913 Mr. Hubbard came to Oklahoma and in company with his former partner, Mr. Kelly, erected at Sand Springs a glass factory, the same being placed in operation under the firm name of Kelly & Hubbard. Later, Alexander H. Kerr and A. W. Kerr of the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company became interested in the enterprise and the firm name was changed to Kerr, Hubbard & Kelly. Under the vigorous and well-ordered control of these progressive business men the enterprise has been developed to large and substantial proportions and constitutes a valuable addition to the industrial activities of Oklahoma. In connection with his own interests in the Kelly-Hubbard Glass Company, Mr. Hubbard was also manager for the Alexander H Kerr & Company Glass Factory which was moved from Altoona Kansas to Sand Springs about the same time the Kelly-Hubbard factory was established. The Alexander H. Kerr & Company manufacture the ‘Kerr Economy’ Fruit Jars, also the ‘Kerr Self Sealing Mason Jars’, the only fruit jars in the world that seal without a rubber ring. They also manufacture jelly glasses.”

  5. Arlou Hatt says:

    To whom it may concern in your company; I purchase your canning jars, but I would like to bring to your attention a small problem I have encountered. When I purchase a new box of jars and unscrew the band on the jar, the pressure that has built up inside the jar acts as a propellant and causes the screw band and the flat to explode and shoot across the room. I have not yet been injured by said flying band and flat, but it terrifies me to attempt to unscrew the band. I suppose this pressure in the jar builds as the hot jar coming off the manufacturing belt is immediately capped with the flat and band. I wonder if you can try to find a solution to this problem. Thanks, A. Hatt

    • David says:

      Hi Arlou,
      I believe you are under the mistaken impression that my website is connected with the makers of Kerr jars. Not so. This webpage on Kerr is merely an informational page for collectors of glass, especially antique and vintage glassware. I have NO CONNECTION whatsoever with Jarden Home Brands, which (as of 2012) were the distibutors/sellers of modern fruit jars marked “KERR”. (Please read the text of my article. “Kerr” jars are no longer made by Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company). You should try contacting Jarden with your concerns about the jars. An internet search should bring up their website, or some way to contact them directly. I hope this will help.
      Best regards,
      David

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