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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Kerr Mason Jar

Kerr Wide Mouth Mason Jar
I've been saving my dead alkaline batteries in an old Mason jar in the hope of eventually recycling them. Dead batteries shouldn't be sent to the landfill, right? Like everybody saves their dead batteries in hope of their eventual resurrection. Whatever. I save mine. Someday I may even take them to someone who recycles them, or at least claims to. 
    Anyway, I'm looking at this Mason jar and I got to wondering about the whole Mason jar culture. I mean, everybody and their mother (especially their mothers) used to can stuff (fruits and vegetables, mostly) in Mason jars. I suppose some people still do. But I got to wondering just how big was the Mason jar empire. It must have been huge. So I do a little checking and I found some history with some characters, and some evidence of great wealth, but no actual numbers.
    I wrote to Ball, who used to be a big player in the Mason jar business but have since moved on to more profitable things like bullet proof glass for the DoD. All I got back from them was mindless corporate drivel.     The entire Mason jar business, such as it is, seems to have been absorbed by Jarden Corporation in Florida, who don't actually make anything, they just control a small empire of companies that do make stuff. I suppose that's about as close to actually making stuff as corporate America gets these days.
    So now I'm looking around and I found this little bit, which puts Kerr, another big player in the Mason jar empire, in Portland, Oregon.

Company History from Lehman Brothers
Then I found this about Kerr innovations:


From an obituary in the Los Angeles Times I extracted this:
Alexander H. Kerr founded the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corp., the company famous for its mason jars for home canning, in Portland, Ore., in 1903 and moved it to Los Angeles in 1920. He died in 1925, and his wife, Ruth Kerr, ran the business until her death in 1967.
More info about Kerr from Glass Bottle Marks :

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. 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); 
  • Santa Ana, California (from 1943); 
  • Plainfield, Illinois (from 1964); 
  • Dunkirk, Indiana (from 1968); 
  • Millville, New Jersey (1968) and 
  • Waxahachie, Texas (from 1968).
I also found a story about the Kerr glass bottle factory that survived the big  San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
Take that, Ball.

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