Imperial Patented April 20th 1886

Provenance: Darrell Plank Collection

The museum presents a rather spectacular orange-amber half-gallon jar that is embossed ‘PATENTED’ (arched downwards), ‘IMPERIAL’ (horizontal straight line), and ‘APRIL 20th 1886’ (arched upwards). There is a number ‘4’ embossed on the base.

This jar could be unique as far as size and color. The color transforms from a darker oranger-amber to a lighter shade towards the top of the jar. The iron clamp is original and the clear glass lid came with the piece when purchased by the consigner. No known orange-amber glass tops are known. There are similar quart and half-gallon jars that can be found in clear and aqua glass and they are also considered rare.

On February 4, 1886, Joseph L. De Steiger and Edward A. De Steiger filed for a Fruit Jar patent. They received Patent No. 340,428 on April 20, 1886. This patent built on a few previous patents of theirs. This date is embossed on the face of the jar.

Although the patent was for the jar, their description centered around the closure. The brothers moved the ramps from a previous patent from the top of the lid to the sides. A groove at the neck-finish juncture of the jar held a bent-wire device that fit against the two inclined ramps. As the lid was revolved clockwise, the wire device rode up the ramps, fastening the closure securely.

The patent was apparently only used for the manufacture of a single type of jar called the “Imperial.” With no other exact examples, this jar may have been produced by the De Steiger Glass Company of La Salle, Illinois as a prototype.

Joseph De Steiger and his three brothers moved from St. Louis, Missouri to La Salle, Illinois in 1878 and started the De Steiger Glass Company which almost certainly replaced the earlier Phoenix Glass Company. They specialized in window glass, green and amber glassware, wine, brandy, mineral water, and beer bottles, flasks, and fruit jars. An example of one of their beer bottles is pictured below.

Primary Image: Imperial Fruit Jar imaged on location by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio led by Alan DeMaison.

Support Images: Auction Lot 14322: IMPERIAL PATd APRIL 20th 1886, Pint, All original, Colorless. Original glass lid and original iron clamp. Appearance: shiny glass. Condition: nicking on the ground mouth, nicking on bottom edge of the glass lid. Embossing: base only. Base: “IMPERIAL PAT APRIL 20TH 1886” Age: late 1800s. Availability: scarce. – Greg Spurgeon, North American Glass

Support Image: Aqua pint embossed in a slug plate, PETER BINZEL OCONOMOWOC WIS. with DE STEIGER GLASS CO. embossed on the bottom. Iron clasp enclosure. – Steven Libbey and the Wisconsin Antique Advertising Club

Support: The Dating Game: De Steiger Glass Co. by Bill Lockhart, Carol Serr and Bill Lindsey, Bottles and Extras, September-October 2007

Support: De Steiger Glass Co. and the “Twister” Blowers by Bill Lockhart, Carol Serr, Beau Schreiver, and Bill Lindsey

Support: Reference to Red Book #11, the Collector’s Guide to Old Fruit Jars by Douglas M. Leybourne, Jr.

Support: Reference to Fruit Jar Annual 2020 – The Guide to Collecting Fruit Jars by Jerome J. McCann

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