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).


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). [UPDATE: Verallia plants, as of April 2014, are now under the ARDAGH GROUP].

The rights to the “Kerr” brand name, as used on currently-made fruit jars, was held by the Alltrista Corporation, which later became known as the Jarden Corporation (Jarden Home Brands).

Update:  Jarden Home Brands, as of 2014, continues to sell new glass canning jars with the KERR and BALL brand name embossings.  It is my understanding that many, if not most, of these recent jars made FOR Jarden Home Brands are being made at the Winchester, Indiana plant owned now by Ardagh Group, North America. (See Ball Bros Glass CompanyAnchor Hocking Glass Corporation, and Ball Perfect Mason).

Also, see entries on  other fruit jars such as the Wax Sealer style jars,  and Patent November 30th 1858 jars,  and the page on Hazel-Atlas Glass Company.

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

Please click here to go to my Home Page.

19 Responses to Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation

  1. Judy Harris says:

    Hello, love the answers given and thought I’d ask a question. I have two Kerr bowls, about 3 1/2 inch in size. On the first the bottom has a boxed number 5, Kerr in a odd shape box and then the number 112 in another box.
    The second bowl has no boxes what so ever on the bottom. only numbers = 27 Kerr 555, but it looks like someone squiggled something like a signature or name or something but it is small.
    Any info you can give me would be valuable.
    Thank you.

    • David says:

      Hi Judy,
      I believe you are describing jelly cups or “jelly glasses” which were made by Kerr for home canning (making homemade jelly and jam). They are sometimes misidentified as custard cups, pudding cups, sherbet bowls or dessert dishes. I cannot tell you exactly how old they are, or how long the general “type’ was manufactured, but I can say from personal memory that we (my parents, to be more exact) bought some of similar type during the 1970s or 1980s. You might try searching ebay with various keywords to find similar jelly glasses on that site. I hope this will be of help.

  2. Tim newsom says:

    I have a mason jar that has ahk 24 505 on the bottom of it. On the neck of the jar it says s6 47 and is similar to one i found that had ahk 31 505 on the bottom and s8 47 onthe neck which was made in between 1915_1920. So the one i have was it made before?

    • David says:

      Hi Tim,
      I have the “AHK” mark listed on “Page One” of the Glass Manufacturers Marks pages Here. The “AHK” mark was used by Kerr beginning in 1944, and was used mostly, if not entirely, on “packer jars” and product jars (meaning, they were sold to companies who used them to package their products and sold them at retail) instead of fruit jars or canning jars sold empty for home use. Alot of the AHK jars were saved by consumers and re-used for canning or storing.
      “AHK” is also seen on the bottom of lots of other types of glass bottles and jars. The other numbers you see on the bottom are mold numbers, or bottle design, inventory or style numbers, and perhaps plant codes, and I don’t know the exact interpretation of the numbers you describe. However, we can be sure the “A H K” mark dates any jar to sometime between 1944 and 1992. Best regards,

  3. Erika Carasella says:

    Hey there! I have over 30 jars that I acquired from a hoarders house we remodeled and am trying to date them..I have a Kerr jar that says Chicago, Ill. on the bottom but am not able to find any info on the Chicago plant..any ideas on the era of this jar? Thank you!

    • David says:

      Hi Erika,
      According to information published in “The Fruit Jar Works, Volume II” by Alice Creswick (1987), on page 159, Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company had business offices in Chicago (but not an actual glass plant located there, only offices) in the “circa 1912-1915” time period. Not sure how or where she got her info, but the time period is only approximate, and since jar molds were used sometimes for several years before wearing out and being replaced, I would guess your jar dates from sometime in the 1912-1920 timeframe.
      Hope this helps,

  4. David says:

    I have a small Kerr mason the numbers, on the bottom, 22 centered and 501 below? In the center it has Kerr and underneath that, underlined and in quotations Self Sealing. Underneath that it says Mason. The lid says Kerr. Thank you.

  5. R. Walker says:

    The 2 digit number was a mold number and the larger number if one is present was a style number.

  6. 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

  7. 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”.

  8. Linda Marion says:

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

  9. 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.”

  10. 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,