Canning jars were an important part of the kitchen for well over a hundred years.Women used the glass jars to preserve fruit, vegetables, jellies and jams for the family to eat during the winter months.
In the United States, however, a variety of canning jars began appearing in the late 1840s.While stoneware crocks were used for many things, they did not enable the homemaker to seal the container securely and so the contents were always at risk.The first jars used sealing wax to create a tight seal.The wax was melted and poured into a channel around the lip of the jar.A lid was put in place and as the wax cooled a seal was created.
The difficulty came when it was time to open the jar because the wax had to be melted so that the lid could be taken off.Regardless of this inconvenience, wax sealers were popular well into the early part of the 20th century. Collectors do need to be aware that these embossed jars were manufactured through about 1920.One of the most well known canning jars was the Mason jar, patented by John Mason in 1858. This made a more reliable seal that was easier to work with than the wax sealer. Just because your jar is embossed 1858 does not mean that it was manufactured in 1858.During the Civil War and later some manufacturers used a clamp and glass lid design.The jar has a cast metal wire that clamps down on a glass lid and holds it tightly in the neck of the jar.These were used with round gaskets to create the seal.