In 1993 two things came together for us: our youngest child left home to be on her own, and my mother sent me all her old canning jars because she had decided she wasn’t going to do home canning anymore.
As we were sorting through the fruit jars, we noticed that not all of them were “Ball” or “Kerr”. What a revelation! There were Atlas Strong Shoulder, Magic Mason, Jeannette J Mason Home Packer and even a Mason’s Patent Nov. 30th 1858. My late husband, Ron, said, “There has to be a book we gotta find the book!” We started searching antique malls and flea markets, adding to our collection a few dollars at a time. Within a year, we had purchased our first small collection, found a Redbook (the bible of fruit jars!), and discovered bottle shows.
Since Ron and I were both originally from Indiana, we grabbed the opportunity to visit family and attend the bottle show that was primarily fruit jars in Indianapolis (since moved to Muncie). That first Indy show was absolutely overwhelming. We left there with maybe a half dozen less expensive jars that had unusual closures – a Millville, a Fruit Keeper, and a few others I don’t recall specifically.
Once it became more difficult to add to the fruit jar collection while cruising the flea market, we started noticing the “go-withs” – the jar rings, lids, wrenches, lifters – all the equipment you needed for successful home canning. Somehow I was especially intrigued with the jar rings, and managed to acquire a tidy little collection just browsing the antique stores and flea markets. After that, I found myselt at the right place at the right time on several occasions and managed to acquire several collections when long-time collectors decided to liquidate. And then there came eBay, and the rest is history.
My mom passed away in 2005, and Ron in 2009, so the fruit jar and jar rings collections hold fond memories for me. Although I rarely add to them, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
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