I Had a BALL at
One of the great things about any
hobby, is sharing your chosen passion with others. I have been an avid fruit jar
collector for a long time now and hanging out with fellow collectors is one
great way to learn things about these jars that date back to the 1850's. Usually
the most common ground for such a gathering would be at local bottle club
meetings or the various bottle shows held all over the country. But one of the
best ways to see examples of jars not usually found "in the wild" is to make a
visit to another long time collector's home. Findlay Antique Bottle Club
members Richard Elwood, Marianne Dow and myself did just that a couple of
weeks ago. Mason Bright had extended an invitation to come and see his jar
collection a year or so ago, and finally we found a weekend to make the
trip up to Michigan and see his fabulous Ball Jar Collection.
Mason has focused on
collecting BALL jars for decades and has amassed quite a spectacular
collection of virtually every kind of Ball jar ever made. Now seeing how BALL
has made billions of jars with countless variations, I would say it is
impossible to put together a COMPLETE collection of Ball-made jars. But Mason
Bright comes just about as close to this goal as anyone ever
Mason converted his basement into one of the nicest
display rooms I have ever seen. Complete with work tables, chairs, even little
stools to sit on and really check out those jars on the bottom shelves, this area is
perfect to spend a day and absorb all the great BALL JAR history that is in
this one room.
The shelves of the "museum" are in chronological order
starting with the oldest BALL jars from the 1880's to the latest modern day
jars. The pictures that follow are just a small taste of what is included
in the collection. No doubt, other serious BALL jar collectors would focus
on different jars. But these are some that really caught my attention as we
made our way around the room.
These jars picture above are some of the oldest "Buffalo
jars" made during the few short years that the BALL factory was located in
Above, a light green midget, an amber Mason's 1858,
olive 3rd L Ball Improved, and a clear midget.
Above, a row of Nice Christmas Mason's and
a shelf of Haine & Co Ball jars.
Included above, a nice line of Ball Perfection jars and
some great colored 3rd L Ball "193" jars (for you Red Book Ball jar
And the following jars, known as "234's", are always
some of my favorites..... Thanks to my good buddy Bruce Schank for "re-infecting"
me with the "234 bug". These pictures are for you Bruce....
Then there were these gems.... You just never know what
you will find on these shelves!
Above the correct Perfection band for the Ball Mason jar
and the milkglass insert for the NICE! colored Midget pint above.
And it just keeps on
The AMAZON embossing variation is very rare, a
clear Bambergers, a sweet 3rd L Ball Standard, and olive 3rd L Ball Improved.
I am not sure but I think the La
Abeja jar is the only one known, and the milkglass Ball Ideal is pretty rare
too! The Jay B Rhodes is no sloucher either!
By now I am on fruit jar overload, but now it is time
for some 274 BALL PERFECT MASON'S .................
Those clear ones are tough to find! But Mason did not
have a quart in the set. As for the pint, I have never seen one of these
The 2nd bead pint is cool, and I could NOT resist doing
a line up of pints to show off the color "TRUE AQUA". Now, does this help
you guys answer this important question on the difference between Light Blue,
Aqua, and Ball Blue?????
Above are a couple of carnival colors, and I don't know
what to call the square half gallon!
And above are some Specials for Michael! Of course,
Michael you probably already have all of these......
And the legendary CLEAR Johnsbury SURE SEAL..... with an
ORIGINAL CLEAR LID!
A couple of UPSIDE DOWN 234's. I have always loved these
jars, but have never owned one. Maybe someday I will find one sitting on a
shelf in an antique mall. The 2 "V" lids are pretty cool too, Milkglass and
Then there were some of my favorite
An advertising paperweight in the shape of a jar, and a
couple of "partial" solid pours...
And a very cute box end with Palmer Cox
Brownies... And a nice section of newer jars including some HARD-TO-FIND
El Monte jars!
But my very favorite piece in Mason's vast collection is
this little jewel !!!!
An INCREDIBLE 277 SOLID POUR!!! Brucie you really have
sunk me on these solid pours, and I would just love to have this "jar"
sitting on my shelf!
There is absolutely NO WAY to even begin to describe all
of the 1600 Ball jars that sit on Mason's shelves. And not just the jars, mind
you! There are go-withs galore, boxes of jar rubbers, lids, jar openers and
lifters.... it just goes on and on. I really don't think you could take it all
in with one visit. I saw things at Mason's that I have never seen before in all
of my years of collecting. It was just nothing short of FANTASTIC!
All in all, it was one GREAT afternoon! Mason and
Nancy were super hosts and I want to say thanks again to the both of them for
having us over. If any of you ever have the chance to visit other
collections like this one, all I can say is "DON'T HESITATE! GO NOW!" And
on the flip side, invite someone over to see YOUR jars too. It really is
one of the best ways to share your passion with others. You will promote this
great hobby, share your knowledge with others, and probably make some new Best