Ball Perfect Mason

Ball Perfect Mason

The Ball Perfect Mason was a brand of glass fruit jar (canning jar) made by the Ball Bros. Glass Company. Ball Bros was based in Muncie, Indiana.  (See “Ball Brothers Glass Company” page, for a brief summary of that glass company).

Glass jars with this embossed marking probably constitute the most popular jar for home canning ever produced in the United States. Hundreds of millions (probably upwards of a billion or more!) have been made and used by home canners throughout most of the 20th century.  (NOTE: also please see info farther down on this page showing a modern reproduction of this jar, called the “AMERICAN HERITAGE COLLECTION”). 

They are commonly seen for sale at antique malls, farm auctions,  flea markets, yard sales, and on online auction sites.

The very first versions with this embossing are believed to date from approximately 1913, with production continuing to about 1960.      Hundreds of slight variations in shape, size, lettering font, glass color, base markings, etc., exist, and this particular type of jar presents a wide field of study for fruit jar collectors and glass historians.    Typically, they were made in half pint, pint, quart, and half-gallon sizes.

Ball Perfect Mason Jars- Half Gallon & Quart sizes

Ball Perfect Mason – Half Gallon and Quart sizes

Most of the earlier versions were round (cylindrical) in shape, and some of the later types are square (with rounded corners) in design. Some variants have vertical “ribs” or “grips” along the sides,  added to assist in handling the jars while they are wet.


Ball Perfect Mason jars were made utilizing steel molds as part of “ABM” (“Automatic Bottle Machine”) i.e. automatic glass container-making machinery. Many different jar molds (thousands) were used over the many years’ time these jars were being produced.

Each mold was hand-cut (hand-engraved) with the lettering incised backward into the inside surface of the mold, which of course resulted in the embossing (raised lettering) which is seen on the surface of the jar. Very close inspection and comparison between different older jars (that may appear to be exactly the same) will show that it was very difficult, if not nearly impossible for all of the lettering (including the cursive “Ball” lettering and the “block style” lettering underneath) to be engraved absolutely identical from one mold to the next.   Many slight variations are seen, with the exact lettering orientation just barely  noticeably different from one example to another, such as the spacing, height, width, depth of cut, of individual letters.  On some jars, the word “Ball” is underlined, on others,  not. The underline may be very long, or heavily “looped”.

See this chart (courtesy showing BALL logo variants at the following link.  The “LOGO 5” and “LOGO 6” are the two most frequently seen on older (aqua or Ball Blue) BALL PERFECT MASON jars:

How to Date a Ball Jar

Most of the typical Ball Perfect Mason’s are marked with a mold number between 0 and 15 on the bottom.   On some jar variants, (such as the first BALL embossing variant on these jars, “logo 5”  in above chart, used circa 1913-1923 on BPM jars), the number may be accompanied by a letter to the right, such as  A  or C.

As can be readily discovered, there were many different “sets” of molds used over a period of many years, with this same series of (up to) 16 numbers used over and over again to identify the molds being used on a particular machine.

Thus, if a random sampling of these jars are studied, (for instance, just looking at a selection of only those marked with a number “2” on the bottom) , it may be seen that the numbers typically appears slightly different, in fact “unique” in it’s exact formation, from one jar to the next. It may take a while before exact duplicates are found – that is, finding two jars that were made from one individual, specific mold.

This is one of the aspects of collecting these jars that can be fun and intriguing (or boring to some!) if you are “into” studying fine differences in these jars …. somewhat akin to the practice of collecting coins and comparing their minor “mold” or “die” variations.


Note: for a bit of information about the “off-size”  BALL PERFECT MASON jars that are occasionally found, please check the COMMENTS section farther down on this page, and read the queries from Lee and Michelle, posted November / December of 2015.  Thank you!

Glass Colors

The great majority of these jars were made in bluish-aqua or “Ball Blue” colored glass (Ball Blue is the standard color of these jars, a somewhat “more blue” shade of aqua).  Later versions (after circa 1936) were made in clear glass, and some (usually from the 1950s) in brown amber.

Other colors that are known,  but not so easily found, include cornflower blue, straw yellow, olive green, olive amber, blackish olive, dark yellow amber, light green and medium green.  Some of these colors might be known under other/different names depending on who is describing them!  There are various shades and tints of these colors out there.  If you have the opportunity, try attending an antique fruit jar and/or bottle show, where some of these unusually colored jars may show up.

Error Jars

A number of “error jars” are found among the Ball Perfect Mason’s, including examples found with the embossing missing a letter (or letters), or with a word misspelled, such as “PERFFCT”,  “PEPRECT” or “PEREFCT”.

A listing of many of these error jars can be found in the “Red Book”, a price guide used by fruit jar collectors. In general, the Ball Perfect Mason variants are listed in the Red Book from  #332 to #363-3, and several of the BPM error jars are found within this group,  listed as jars #352 to #363.     There are no doubt very minor variants/errors that are not currently listed in that guide.

Some jars have embossing that is unusually faint ( for instance, just one or two letters within a word) and this can sometimes be due to accumulated debris partially filling the engraving of the lettering on the mold itself at the time of making, or perhaps some other reason.

Other popular jars made by Ball include the Ball Mason,  the Ball Ideal,  the Ball Improved,  the Ball Special,  the Ball Sure Seal and others.  (Please see my page on the “Mason’s Patent Nov 30TH 1858” fruit jars).

Number “13” Jars

Some Ball Perfect Mason jars are found with the number “13” on the bottom. As mentioned earlier in this article, most Ball-produced jars are typically found with a mold  number ranged between 0 and 15, so naturally some percentage of them will carry the number “13”.  Rumors have circulated for years (and have especially been promoted on auction sites and by flea market and antique mall dealers) that superstitious distillers of illegal whiskey (“moonshiners”) who often did use fruit jars to contain their product, were hesitant to use jars marked with a 13 on the bottom.  According to the stories, they threw them away, or intentionally broke them, fearing their enterprise could otherwise be met with bad luck.  Sometimes the story accuses ordinary housewives of having done the same thing if they were especially superstitious.

Personally, I think most of the stories are hogwash, although I wouldn’t doubt that it happened on a very occasional basis, and just often enough to provide impetus for an urban legend (rural legend?). Most myths and legends are based on a kernel of truth, and this may be no exception to the rule.      (However, keep in mind that fruit jars cost money, and the average farmer or housewife, often continually stretched to the limit with their household budget, would have never destroyed a jar merely because of the number on the bottom).  Most home canners would pay little or no attention to the markings in the first place.

Some dedicated and experienced antique jar collectors will state that they think the number 13 jars are just as common as jars as those with other numbers.  I don’t think this is true. There is a definitely noticeable difference in the numbers of #13-marked jars compared to the other numbers — they are a little less common.  I’ve noticed this through looking at the bases of many hundreds of typical Ball Perfect Mason jars while browsing at antique and collectible malls and flea markets. However, the mild scarcity, in my opinion is NOT REALLY STRONG ENOUGH to warrant the prices which are often asked for these jars on online auction sites. Of course, value is a very subjective thing and many collectors may not agree with my opinion on this subject.

It seems evident that many of these jars are now saved by non-collectors or casual glass collectors (and “culled” from large groups of common jars) merely because of the number on the base. This culling out of #13 jars from among the “general population” of jars (and stashing them away) can increase the perception of their scarcity.

They usually do sell on auction sites (if priced low enough) for several reasons- but typically because of the belief in the rumors, along with the general public’s fascination with the number 13 and it’s connection with the “dark side” of life, the theme of “being unlucky”, and the perceived connections with the supernatural, the occult, etc.


NOTE: Just recently (beginning circa 2013) a new type of BALL PERFECT MASON jar has been issued, primarily sold through department/grocery stores such as Walmart, Target, Kroger, and others,  and online venues such as Amazon. These commemorative jars are being produced in a lighter, brighter blue color— not quite the same shade as the original jars. 

These jars as being sold in sets of 6, and come in pint size only (as of this writing).  They are marked (on front) “BALL PERFECT MASON”,  on rear  “1913   1915 / 100 YEARS OF / AMERICAN / HERITAGE / MADE IN U.S.A.” .  Also, there are volume/weight measurements embossed along the side of the jar, including cups, milliliters and ounces.  They are being sold along with modern screw bands and lids.  The glass is a bit thinner and lighter than the original Ball Perfect Mason types. 

(NOTE: in 2014, medium green glass quart size jars were issued, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the “PERFECTION” jars (introduced in 1914)…….the word “PERFECTION” is embossed underneath the cursive BALL.    A third color (purple) was issued in 2015 for the 100th anniversary of their “Ball IMPROVED” jars (1915), and is embossed “IMPROVED” underneath the name “BALL”. The purple jars are made in pint and quart sizes). 

New issue Blue glass Ball Perfect Mason jars, "American Heritage Collection" in pint size.

New issue Blue glass Ball Perfect Mason jars, “American Heritage Collection”, set of six jars in pint size.

These jars are being sold for actual canning use, but also for “rustic” or “retro” decorative appeal; are being used as containers for liquid soap dispensers (some ebay or etsy sellers are selling them with special lids for this use);  for use in candle making, and for similar Americana “primitive” and crafts projects.  Not to mention their appeal as a collector’s item which is virtually guaranteed because of the great popularity of the older jars .

The “1913 1915” embossing (given above) readily identifies these as new production.   As time goes on, however, their provenance might be somewhat less obvious to beginning fruit jar collectors. 

According to the Ardagh Group website, they are made by that glass manufacturing company for distributor Jarden Home Brands.

Ardagh Group – North America is currently (2015) the owner of most of the former Ball Bros Glass Company  plants .  Ball Bros>>>> Saint-Gobain Containers>>>>> Verallia>>>>> and now Ardagh Group.    The Ardagh plant at Winchester, Indiana (where many of the new “Ball” brand jars are being made) is a former Anchor Glass Container Corporation facility that was acquired by Ardagh.


For a very good informative webpage about antique fruit jars, and commonly asked questions, including some info on the Ball Perfect Mason, check out Ball jar collector/expert Bob Clay’s page here: Common Misconceptions about Fruit Jars, by Bob Clay .

Bob Clay’s article with a timeline on “How to Date Ball Fruit Jars” appears here near the bottom of this page:

General discussion forum for Ball fruit jar collectors:

For more information on Ball glass jars, check out Bruce Wayne Shank’s site here: Ball Jars Collectors’ Website.

Karen M. Vincent’s article on dating Ball jars:

For information on values, you might check out the site, where the “Red Book” fruit jar price guide for collectors is available for purchase.

Please click here to go to the alphabetical mark listings: Glass Bottle Marks .

Click here to go to my HOME page.


72 Responses to Ball Perfect Mason

  1. Renee A Frederick says:

    I have a half gallon Ball Perfect Mason on front and 2 on bottom. Would it be rare or valeuable?

    • David says:

      Renee, your average quart and half gallon Ball Perfect Masons (in the most common aqua or Ball Blue colors) are typically valued at around 1 to 2 dollars each. They may be priced much higher at antique shops, flea markets and on online sales/auctions sites. The “2” is a mold number. The older types of BPM that date from the 1910s-1930s in aqua or blue were made in the hundreds of millions over many years, so they are considered extremely common.

      Best regards,

  2. Angel Spalding says:

    I found a clear ball jar with “41” on the bottom. Is it common, or uncommon?

    • David says:

      Hello Angel, most of the later clear Ball jars are very common and don’t have much collector value, although they still have (of course) “practical”, “useful” value for canning. They are found with various mold numbers on the bottom. I don’t know how common the “41” jar would be, compared to other mold numbers seen.

  3. Liz Mckinney says:

    Hi . I have a 1900-1910 blue ball jar without a number on the bottom. Would you happen to know what that means? Thanks!

  4. Robbie says:

    I have many vintage light blue to dark blue I have one that is the Mason’s patent 1858 jar a48 on bottom and a snowflake type of embossing on back

  5. Medolark says:

    In the above article, it states that the new reproductions are Perfect Mason but I purchased a set of the new amethyst pint jars and the side has a dropped A underlined Ball with IMPROVED beneath.
    Reverse: 1913 – 1915
    100 years of

    Standard and metric measure on one side.

    • David says:

      Hi Medolark, Thanks for bringing that to my attention. When I first wrote most of the text for this page, the only “Heritage” jars in production were the aqua-blue colored “Ball Perfect Mason” jars issued in 2013 for the 1913 100th anniversary of the Ball Perfect Mason.
      Since then, (2014) the medium green jars were issued, with the name “PERFECTION” on them, and the purple jars were issued in 2015, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the “IMPROVED” jars first issued in 1915. I will edit my text shortly to help reduce confusion on the exact wording on those later colored jars. Best regards,

  6. Keegan says:

    I have a bottle with the ball logo on the bottom along with a large 4. Can you tell me anything about it?

    • David says:

      Keegan, Ball Brothers Glass Company made a wide variety of containers besides their better-known fruit jars. Often there is a cursive BALL logo on the bottom. Ball made liquor bottles, food bottles and lots of containers for other products as well. The “4” is probably a mold number. Please check out my article on this site about the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company.

  7. Pamela Neese says:

    Hi I have a Ball jar that dates between 1933 -1962 based on the Ball logo. It stands 20″ tall and is around 30″ round. It has its lid, wire closer and rubber gasket. Is it some sort of store display?

    • David says:

      Pamela, I’m not sure, but I would guess it was meant as a pickle jar or a large-size store display for commemorative or decorative purposes. Perhaps a reader can give us some feedback on it!

  8. Jana Terrell says:

    I have a Ball perfect mason jar with the 13 on the side. Is it a rare jar? I can’t seem to find any info on it because everything says the number is on the bottom.

    • M. Kersey says:

      I also have a quart size Ball Perfect Mason, square, with 13F on the side and bottom. What does this mean… It also has an I on the bottom across from the 13F on the bottom. Can anyone tell me about this style jar?

  9. Lisa says:

    Are there reproduction Ball porcelain lids? I found some lids at an antique store in mint condition. They looked too good to be true and $2.00 a piece???

    • Lisa says:

      …metal lid, porcelain lined, I should say. Thanks!

    • David says:

      Lisa, they are “NOS” (new old stock). Lots of them are still around, boxes of them having been found after long storage in pantries, closets, warehouses, etc, in “never used” condition.
      If a zinc lid contains a porcelain liner, they are likely “original” lids (the BALL lids were made over many decades, many of them sold as replacements). If there is no porcelain liner, it is probably a repro.

  10. Bryan says:

    I have picked a masons jar patent Nov. 30th 1858 with an H362 on the bottom, can you tell me anything about it? Thank you

    • David says:

      Bryan, it’s one of the recent repro jars. The embossing looks “odd” (smooth rounded lettering, shallowly, poorly formed) compared to the authentic, early jars from the 1858-1920 period, and the jars are typically in pristine condition with no base wear or scratching. The glass is oily or “slick” and shiny. There are several different base molds found so far, and some of them start with an “H” followed by three numbers. These new jars are being imported from China, India and other countries in Asia.

  11. Stacia Tankersley says:

    I just found 2 Ball jars with measurements on the other side 2 1/2 cup. They have A13 on the bottom. I can’t seem to find anything about them.

  12. Kelli Begley says:

    Hello. I have a jar I believe to be half gallon size. It is very faint blue. The front is marked Root Mason. The bottom only has the letter A. The glass has some air bubbles in it, but otherwise is in excellent co dition.The shape of the jar is nothing like the shape of the Ball jars. Can you provide me with a little history on this jar?

  13. Michelle & James Loveless says:

    Hello, I found a box of old Ball jars and two of them have the # B18 and the other has 18 but on the bottom says A18 and the one has B18 on bottom. My question is that a mis print?

  14. Julie A Grames says:

    I found a green Ball perfect Mason pint jar. I have purchased hundreds of the old blue jars. This one is different because the word BALL is in print not cursive. It also has a extra line around the top of the jar. Any idea on age and why it’s different?

    • David says:

      I don’t know about the jar. There are many minor variants of Ball jars, sometimes found in various shades of true green (not aqua). You might try posting a query on the site, where a lot of fruit jar collectors discuss jars on the JARS discussion forum there.
      Best regards,

  15. Tanya Vargason says:

    Hello, I have a jar where the Ball logo dates it between 1910-1923. It has only the word ‘Mason’ below it. Every one I see on Ebay or mentioned in web sites for this period are ‘Perfect Mason’ jars. Does this make it any rarer, and is it possibly just an earlier one before the ‘Perfect’ was added?

    • David says:

      Tanya, the jars marked “BALL MASON” were probably introduced around 1901 (according to info by fruit jar researcher Dick Roller) and were made in large quantities from the early 1900s into the c.1910-1915 period. In a very general sense, most of them appear to pre-date the BALL PERFECT MASON’s, but there was evidently a gradual phasing in of the BALL PERFECT MASON jars so both the BALL MASON and the BALL PERFECT MASON were likely being made simultaneously for at least some period of time.
      Keep in mind Ball had more than one factory producing fruit jars, and there are many slightly different variations of the BALL MASON jars out there. Some BALL MASON jars have the “third L” loop (circa 1900-1910), and others do not, which are assumed to be somewhat later — into the early-mid 1910s.

      The BALL MASON jars are commonly found, but definitely not as abundant as the BALL PERFECT MASON’s which were made in TREMENDOUS quantities!
      To sum this up, there are still a lot of uncertainties involving the many BALL fruit jar varieties to be found, and I am certainly not an expert on those jars!!

  16. Sandra Bailey says:

    Hello, I recently inherited an aqua glass jar with the Mason patent 1858. There are no other markings anywhere. The glass has an extreme rippled look to it. I know it’s machine made due to the seams down the sides. I can find nothing about it. All websites talk about number embossing to determine batch or manufacturer location. Since there are no numbers or any other kind of embossing I was hoping you might help me determine the age. I have no intention of selling and have no interest in the value. Can you help me?

  17. Jeremiah Van Gerpen says:

    My brother has blue jars rhat are hand blown, is this earlier than 1900?

  18. Jeremiah Van Gerpen says:

    My brother has ball jars that are hand blown. There are tiny bubbles in the glass.. are they worth much?

    • David says:

      Jeremiah, most jars bearing the BALL brand name are not handblown – they are machine-made (either on semi-automatic machines – from the 1890s – or fully-automatic, early 1900s). For instance, ALL “BALL PERFECT MASON” jars are machine-made.
      Lots of bubbles can be found in some jars even into the 1920s and ’30s or later, although the bubbles typically aren’t nearly as numerous or noticeable in later jars.
      To be honest, your questions are rather ‘general’ and very hard to answer with precision. As far as values, you might try searching ebay over a period of time and noting ACTUAL COMPLETED AUCTION ENDING PRICES, not the sellers’ “asking prices”, “minimum bids” or “Buy it now prices”.
      there are many minor variations of Ball jars (aside from the variety of colors found) and values can depend a lot on how scarce a certain variation is. Hope this helps,

  19. I have a blue ball perfect mason jar with the number 51 on the base

    • David says:

      Hello Bill,
      This is a case where the moldcutter engraved the numbers in the wrong order so they appear as “51” instead of “15”. This is seen occasionally on the base of some Ball Perfect Mason jars. Thanks for writing!

  20. Caitlin flowers says:

    My grandmother gave me many Ball fruit/ perfect mason jars. Ive been searching the internet to find information on reproductions. 8+ of them are Ball perfect Mason without the underline. I read these should be from around 1930s era? How do i know if they are repros?

    • David says:

      The only repro BALL PERFECT MASON Jars that I know of are smaller, recently made jars (so far, in the years 2013-2016) made of thinner, lighter-weight glass and they are not in the original blue-aqua color. I described them in the text on this page. They are (so far) made of light cornflower blue glass, amethyst and true green.
      The original BALL PERFECT MASON jars are typically of heavier, thicker glass, most often found in pint, quart and half-gallon sizes. Usually in aqua, Ball blue, or clear glass.
      To look for signs of originality, look CAREFULLY under a bright light for tiny scratches in the sides, base wear (network of high point scratches and scuffs on the bottom which is noticeable on almost all older jars that were used over a long period of time).
      Since it is estimated many hundreds of millions of BALL PERFECT MASONs were made over many years, they have relatively low market value in the most common colors, and there is no logical reason why anyone would reproduce them. They can be found in large quantities in almost any antique store or flea market especially throughout the Midwest and Eastern states.
      I am sure your jars are not reproductions. Sounds like the type made circa 1923-1933. Please check out this chart showing logo changes, courtesy of the Minnetrista website:
      Hope this helps,

      • Albert.K says:

        I have a collection of porcelain liners,and I would like to know what was embossed on the porcelain liners for ball mason jar lids,so i know what they are like the next time i go to a dump.

        • David says:

          Albert, the porcelain liners made for the jar lids marked “BALL” were made in TREMENDOUS numbers over many years, and there are probably a number of variations out there. I don’t know what they all are, but just checking a few, I can say that some have just a mold number (one or two digits) placed in the center of 3 or 4 concentric circles (but with no other markings); others have the exact embossing “<> GENUINE ZINC CAP <> FOR BALL MASON JARS” The <> indicates two “diamond” marks placed between those phrases. Others are blank (no lettering of any kind).
          There are probably other variations out there. They should be the most commonly found type of porcelain liner. If you have access to a local flea market or antique mall that stocks Ball jars with lids (most have at least a few!), you might unscrew the lid and check the porcelain liners and see what you can find.
          Best regards,

  21. Bri says:

    I recently cleaned out my great grandmothers home and found a large (almost the size of a 2 liter) jar. It is the blue/green color and says STANDARD underlined only under STAN. The word standard also is written at angle. There is a 2 on the bottom but there is no Ball or any other writing.. I can’t find anything on the Internet and I am very curious about the history behind this jar. Any details would be greatly appreciated!

    • David says:

      That’s one of the later, machine-made types of “Wax Sealer” fruit jars. The wax sealer jars have a “grooved ring” around the top of the jar instead of threading to accommodate a metal screw lid. You have the half-gallon size. That type marked “STANDARD” was made by Greenfield Fruit Jar & Bottle Company, Greenfield, IN (c. 1890-1909) and some were also made by Ball Bros Glass Company circa 1909-1912 (Ball bought the Greenfield factory in 1909). Your particular jar variation is listed as #2711 in the “Redbook” fruit jar guide used by serious jar collectors. Information on attribution from page 200 of “The Fruit Jar Works Volume 1” by Alice Creswick. The “2” is a mold number. By the way, similar wax sealer jars but marked “BALL / STANDARD” on the front were made by Ball Bros Glass Company… sometime in the circa 1895-1912 time period.
      Hope this helps~

  22. Debra says:

    Hello David, I recently found a triple L, light green Ball jar. It is marked on the bottom with ‘R’ and two dots. It’s has bubbles and is beautiful. Can you tell me anything about it?

    • David says:

      All I can tell you is the general type was made throughout the c.1895-1910 time period by Ball, and is the immediate predecessor of the “Ball Perfect Mason” jars. The markings on the base identified that particular mold.

  23. Kylan says:

    I found a faint green jar with “Ball Mason” on it. There are no other numbers on it. The emblem is like no others that I can find. It is underlined with a long loop after the “LL”. There is no loop in the middle of the BB. There is a line in front of the A leading into it. The bottom of the A is more pointed than curved. The glass has several large bubbles and the writing is very faint(it does not protrude as far off the glass as others. Any ideas?

    • David says:

      Your jar is one of many slightly different variants of the more common type of screw-lid “Mason” jar produced by Ball just BEFORE they started producing the ubiquitous “Ball Perfect Mason” jars. Many of them have quite lightly-embossed lettering. The “BALL MASON” jars are generally believed to have been made between around 1895 and 1910. (Source: A Collector’s Guide to Ball Jars, William F. Brantley, 1975, page 53). Your jar has the “third L” type of lettering (loop) which was common after around 1900 up to the introduction of the Ball Perfect Mason. Your jar (and it’s many variants) are listed from #279 to #296-10 in the “Redbook” used by antique jar collectors. (I think yours would probably be #280). Many if not most of these jars have at least a few bubbles in them.
      Best regards,

  24. Connie Chapman says:

    My name is Connie Chapman. I purchased wide mouth quart jars 12 in the box, 7 only wide mouth the other 5 were regular. The lids were all wide mouth. My email is (address obscured for privacy concerns). Could you please tell me who to get in contact with?

    • David says:

      Connie, you misunderstand this site. This site is about background historical information for glass collectors. I have absolutely no connection with the current distributors of any fruit jars, including those marked “BALL” or any other brand name.
      Best regards,

  25. I have some mason jars with no marking at all along the side, but it says ball on the bottom. Any idea on these?

    • David says:

      Catherine, they are probably “packer jars” or “product jars”, originally containing some type of item and sold retail (as opposed to jars sold empty for home use). Many common food jars (such as originally used for mayonnaise, etc) would fall in that category, and those types of jar are often called “packers” within the glass industry, and have been made by many glass companies.

  26. Chip Douglas says:

    Hi there –

    I cleaned out my parents barn in Indiana last month and found my Grandmother’s canning jars. Among them were several Blue or Aqua (?) Ball Jars (detailed below). My mother said they were old and collectible. After 35+ years in a barn, they cleaned up fairly well and I was planning on using them for an indoor herb garden. However, if they’re valuable, maybe I should reconsider.

    I have the following in Blue/Aqua (10 total):

    1.) Ball Perfect Mason – the “Perfect” is slightly to the right. #7 on the bottom (Quart)
    2.) Ball Ideal Pat’d July 14, 1908 – This one has a glass lid and rubber ring (Quart?) #8 on the bottom.
    3.) Ball Perfect Mason with lines going down the sides (Quart). #9 on the bottom.
    4 & 5.) Ball Perfect Masons (Quart). #7 on the bottom
    6 – 9.) Ball Perfect Masons (Quart). #8 on the bottom
    10.) Smaller Ball Perfect Mason (Pint?). #9 on the bottom.

    The truth is, I can hardly tell one from another. I’ll gladly post or send pics.

    • David says:

      Hi Chip,
      They sound like typical Ball jars that were made in very large numbers, and although they are old and considered collectible, since they are common they have only minor value to collectors, perhaps 1 to 3 dollars apiece in good condition. If I were you, I’d go ahead and use them for your herb garden, or as kitchen canisters, vases, containers for marbles, buttons, etc, or as general home décor. Hope this helps!

    • laurapartera says:

      Those all sound like lovely run-of-the-mill antique ball jars. I have many many of these the Red Book (Leybourne) values them at $1-4 depending. I will continue to buy them at a reasonable price even though I have have many. I keep and collect them to admire, use for dry goods storage and I use the smooth lip mason type for canning. I know this isn’t recommended but if there are no cracks and the lip is in good shape I cannot imagine why I shouldn’t, the glass is twice as thick as the new canning jars and I’ve never had an old jar break in processing but I’ve had new ones break many times.

      • David says:

        Laura, thanks for your post! Your experiences (indicating the old jars as more sturdy and less prone to breakage) gives clues as to why so many of the older Ball Perfect Mason jars are still around! And I’m sure many of them were used over and over again for many decades!

  27. Karen says:

    I found a Ball Perfect Mason jar that has grippers, cups and ounces on it and says made in USA on back. Research about those details and the word “Ball” tells me it’s date is between 1956-1960. I’m curious though about the letters “HI” printed underneath the word Mason next to the bottom of the jar. I’ve searched but cannot find anything about it. The jar has what swirl marks on the bottom but also a line all the way from top to bottom. Is it hand blown or factory made? It has a what looks like a J17 on the bottom also. Thanks

    • David says:

      Karen, there are many slightly different BALL PERFECT MASON jars and I am not familiar with many of them. Don’t know what the “HI” would be. The “J17” is a mold number. ALL Ball Perfect Mason jars were machine-made by Ball at one of their several glass factories. (By the way, for a bit of clarification, the great majority of hand-blown jars and bottles of American make were also produced in a glass factory by skilled glass workers).

  28. Michael Bailey says:

    I have a Masons patent November30 1858 with a 45 on the bottom a lead lid and a rough rim and is light green. I see lots of prices so am curious as to value.

    • David says:

      Hi Michael,
      A huge number of MASON’S PATENT NOV 30TH 1858 jars were made over many years by over 100 glass companies. Many of them bear mold numbers on the bottom, usually one, two or three digits. Many cannot be identified as to exact glass factory source. The most common color is light aqua.
      For current values, check ebay auctions over a period of time to get a “feel” for how much they sell for. Typical value ranges for aqua are in the 5 to 15 dollar price range. Sometimes much less, sometimes more. And shipping costs has to be accounted for when scrutinizing ebay final bid prices. Prices can be very erratic, unpredictable, and one particular jar might sell higher than another for no apparent reason. Sometimes it just so happens that two people land on a particular jar auction, become interested in a particular jar and a ‘bidding war’ erupts. Condition is always very important.
      In general, mold numbers do not have any relevance to the worth of a particular 1858 jar, although some Hemingray 1858-type jars can be identified by their particular “look” of the mold numbers, very, very large and ornate on the base.
      I am assuming you have an older, authentic 1858-type jar, but please be aware there are an increasing number of fake/repro jars on ebay, in unusual colors such as shades of true green, and cobalt blue. Some have a mold number “46” on the bottom, and they are almost certainly recent imports from China.
      If there is NO BASE WEAR at all on an 1858 jar, it is probably a new, imported repro jar.

      Hope this helps,

  29. Lee says:

    Does anyone have any info about a 40 oz/5 cup blue ball jar we found today?

    • Michele says:

      I would like more info on that one too. I have one as well, and it’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

      • David says:

        Hi Michele (and Lee),
        Sorry about answering so late. I didn’t really know much about these “in-between” sizes of the Ball Perfect Mason, but finally did a little research in my books on jars. Here is some info I found:

        In the reference book “The Fruit Jar Works, Volume 2” by Alice Creswick (published 1987), there are several not-so-often-seen “off-sized” BALL PERFECT MASON jars that are lumped together under the jar listing #351.
        She writes “The 40 oz. jars were used to pack coffee. The 42 oz. or “short half-gallon” jars were popular with bootleggers during Prohibition (1920s and early 1930s)”. Other sizes mentioned are 36 ounce, 56 ounce, 58 ounce and 66 ounce. Again, the listing is such that all those sizes are catalogued under one jar identification number. The same number (#351) appears in the accompanying REDBOOK price guide (“The Collector’s Guide to Old Fruit Jars”).
        I’m using an older version of the accompanying “Redbook” price guide so I don’t have up-to-date information on values. I would assume they are worth perhaps 20 dollars or more apiece today, but I really don’t know.
        Hope this helps,

  30. Tim says:

    I purchased a triple L Ball jar with a 13 mold number – in Roman numerals. I didn’t notice Roman numerals on my other jars. Is it a reproduction?

    • David says:

      Hi Tim, There are many, many variations of mold numbers on the base of those jars. I am sure it is not a reproduction. However, you might try posting your query on the site, where there is a special category for discussion on antique fruit jars. Perhaps someone can elaborate more on the Roman numerals on those jars.

  31. Lee says:

    Thank you very much DAvid

  32. Lee Holmes says:

    I found a jar that is a Mason’s patent Nov. 30 th 1858 tha has a number on the bottom that appears to be 113. On second look you can see a faint 13 in the background as well. I have collected bottles and jars for years but not profesionally. It appears to be old glass and not a reproduction. Have you seen jars with error numbers on the bottom? Are they harder to find or common?

    • David says:

      Lee, that’s an example of “ghosting” or “ghost embossing”, it is seen fairly frequently on older glass insulators, and on the base of some jars and bottles, mostly on older handblown bottles before, generally, 1920 or so. The phenomenon occurs on bottles when the molten glass was blown into the mold, and the glass shifts slightly before settling into it’s “final resting place”, and in that split second the molten glass can ‘pick up’ part of the lettering before it shifts again and solidifies into place, causing a double image, or faint secondary image of part of the embossed lettering. (I compare it to blowing a large bubble gum bubble, partly sucking it in for a split second, and blowing it back out). A keyword search of “ghost embossing” on google might bring up better info. It is mentioned elsewhere on this site as well. (No, bottles with ghosting are not rare, and there is usually not much premium value put on bottles with ghosting, although some collectors might pay more for a certain piece that has a particularly legible instance of ghosting.) ~David

Comments/Replies: All comments are moderated so will not be published immediately. Because of mail volume received, and time and energy restraints, some questions may not be answered individually, especially if the subject is already addressed elsewhere on this site. This website is not intended as an appraisal service, but as a resource for background info on glass companies and the marks they used, so I usually delete "What is this bottle worth?" types of queries. Thank you very much for your patience & understanding !!