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Once a common, inexpensive, household item, some old canning jars now come with a healthy price tag.With plenty of reproductions and just plain fakes on the market, collectors must pay attention to the details to get the best picks.Prior to that time, flat tin lids were attached to the jars with wax rings.John Mason was a tinsmith in New York and perfected a machine that would cut threads into the lids, creating a jar with a reusable, screw-on lid.Jars made after about 1915 were completely machine-made and show mold seams across the top and down the sides.Run your fingers over the glass carefully to check for nicks and chips. Skip jars marked Atlas Mason which are likely produced by a new Atlas company and not of value to collectors. Many reproduction companies list the same date or model number on jars that have been produced over several decades.
During 1940s and '50s, the company was one of the largest producers of canning jars along with competitors Ball and Kerr. Only a few types of Atlas jars are collectible: the Atlas E-Z Seal, Atlas H over A Mason, and the Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason. Beware of very strong colors which may indicate a reproduction or irradiated glass. The Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason has heavier glass below the jar neck to prevent it from cracking easily.
Look for jars embossed with the Atlas name in raised lettering.
Take note of any dates or other information on the jars.
Clamped Glass-Lid Jars (Lightning Jars) In 1882, Henry William Putnam of Bennington, Vermont, invented a fruit jar that used a glass lid and a metal clamp to hold the lid in place.
These “Lightning jars” became popular because no metal (which could rust, breaking the seal or contaminating the food) contacted the food and the metal clamps made the lids themselves easier to seal and remove (hence the “Lightning” name) .
There were many similar glass lid and wire-clamp jars produced for home canning all the way into the 1960s.