The Mason jar was invented and patented in 1858 by tinsmith John L. Mason (hence the name Mason jars!).   Raised in Philadelphia, he moved to New York and filed his jar patent at the young age of 26!  As a tinsmith, Mason first created the standard thread cap then the jar to go with it.  As reCAP says... it’s all about the cap!

Original Mason Jar Patent

The jars were an immediate success!  They offered a more reliable method of preserving foods and were widely used across the country allowing homesteaders and urban populations to flourish.   Like today, the jars were affordable and re-useable.   For the next 100 years, with only some minor tweaks, mason jars were an integral part of food preservation.  Although “canning” (the American term for home preserving) decreased in popularity in the mid-1900’s, we are seeing a 21st-century resurgence due to economics and desire for better food choices.

You will often find old jars famously embossed with “Mason's Patent Nov 30th, 1858" even after the expiration of his patent.  Because competitors produced most Mason jars after his patent expired in 1879, Mason did not become wealthy and he died broke in New York City in 1902.  

Around the same time as Mason, other countries around the world had their versions, such as Kilner and Norway. In the 1800's there were hundreds of different brands throughout the world selling essentially what we have come to call Mason jars.

There are significantly fewer manufacturers today. The most common North American brands are Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest and Bernardin, all are made in the US & Canada by Jarden. Other brands such as Orchard Road and generic Mason jars are mostly made in Asia. In Europe, we can still find Kilner, Quattro Stagioni, and Le Parfait.

What's great about these jars is the common screw-top mouth sizes that allow interchangeable caps. reCAP transforms the re-usable, interchangeable jars into the most versatile tool in the home!

Preserving jars from around the world include: 
Kilner, (England); Weck, (Germany); Fowler's Vacola, (Australiathe difference between Fowler & Mason jar); Quattro Stagioni (Italy).

Mason jars are primarily used for home canning but there are endless other uses for them.
Some of the links below are good resources:

- See the actual Mason patent documents: &

4 simple steps - 1943

Mason Jar Patent

Shown here are the four simple steps in the use of the new lid and metal band closure which will replace the more familiar zinc mason cap--conserving zinc so vitally needed for direct war materials. The  Containers Division of the War Production Board (WPB) is encouraging manufacturers to make many millions of these closures available for this year's canning. The jar at the left, having been sterilized, is ready to be filled. The second jar shows the position of the lid immediately after filling, the rubber gasket is placed in between the lid and the mouth of the jar. Third jar: the metal band is screwed on tightly and then slightly loosened and processing begins. After processing is completed, the band is tightened again. The jar at the right shows how the band can be removed when the food has thoroughly cooled and the vacuum will hold the lid tightly in place. A truly all-glass package. To open, insert a knife to break the vacuum, and lid lifts off easily.  1943, source: Library of Congress


Monopoly Committee told Ball Fruit Jar Corp. is protected by patents. Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 1938. 

Frank Ball

The manufacturer of mason fruit jars, Frank C. Ball of Muncie, Ind., today told the Monopoly Investigating Committee that his contract for patented glass-making machinery prevents the issuance of licenses to new fruit jar manufacturers. 

He said the contract, with the Hartford Empire Company, owner of Vital Glass-Making Machinery Patents, was taken out in 1932 carrying a provision that Hartford would grant no further licenses for domestic fruit jar manufacture beyond those then in effect, 12/15/38  source: Library of Congress

CLASSICO® Mason Jars*

Classico Mason Jars

Classico Mason jar (24 oz Red Sauces) and new Classico Riserva are packaged in Atlas Mason jars and fit reCAP Regular Mouth products.  From on-the-go drinks and meals to pantry storage and organization, reuse and reimagine a use that is perfect for you. 

*Not recommended for canning.


Dating A Ball Mason Jar


Ball Mason Jar Size Chart


ohn Landis Mason not only invented the Mason jar in 1858 but also received his patent for the first pepper shaker with a screw-on cap on the same day.

Pepper Shaker