I Had a  BALL  at Mason's
 
 
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 has.
 
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 Buffalo NY.
 
  
 
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 collectors)
 
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 going.......................................
 
    
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 before.
 
  
 
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 Clear!
 
Then there were some of my favorite oddities......
 
  
 
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 Friends Forever.