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A Ball Jar That Isn’t a Fruit Jar

Jars, jars, and more jars. In addition to more than 1,000 fruit jars, the Minnetrista Heritage Collections includes approximately 100 packer jars. So what is a packer jar?

Century Modernistic

Ball Brothers Company and other producers of fruit jars, known as consumer glass, also produced commercial glass. These jars were used by food packing companies to hold everything from pickles to pig’s feet. A packer jar did not have to look like the fruit jar. It could have any shape, be any size, and have any kind of opening. Some companies chose to have their name or logo embossed on the jars. This made for a fancier, but more expensive jar. The packer would have to pay for the special mold, as no other company could use it. Customers wanting to keep costs down ordered plain, generic jars and used a paper label to identify the contents. Ball made both kinds of jars—whatever the customer wanted.

Fred J. Petty

By 1930, Fred J. Petty, son-in-law of Ball Brothers Company president Frank C. Ball, was the head of the Commercial Glass Division. One of his many talents was the ability to design attractive glass containers for commercial customers. In the 1930s, he created a series of jars in the Art Deco style that were sufficiently unusual that he was able to obtain design patents for them from the United States Patent Office. Ball named this series of jars “Modernistic” and gave each design an individual name— Comet, Century, Modisto, Regal, Rainbow, and Zephyr.

Fred J. Petty Patent Drawing

Check out the pretty glass jars you got from Grandma or from the flea market. Many
of them probably have a very small Ball logo on the bottom. After that, come to
Minnetrista and see if they match packer jars currently on display.

Regal Modernistic

minnetrista heritage collection

minnetrista collects the objects and archival material that document the people, places, events, organisations, businesses and industry of the region – in other words, the history of east central indiana.

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