Star & Crescent Self Sealing Jar

Provenance: Jerry McCann Collection

This jar is a rare variation of the STAR & CRESCENT (Star and Crescent Moon) PAT. MAR. 11TH 1890 (see examples above) jar. Our museum example is embossed differently, from top to bottom, PUT ON RUBBER BEFORE FILLING (1st line), MRS. S. T. RORER’S (2nd line), STAR & CRESCENT (3rd line convex arch), embossed star and crescent moon, SELF SEALING JAR (4th line). The base is embossed PATENTED DEC’R 10TH 1896.

The jar is hand blown with a ground lip. The closure is a side seal. There is a gasket seated between the outside jars neck and inner skirt of the tinned iron press down cap that has a milk glass liner.

Period advertising stated that “Two worthy features of the Star & Crescent jar are its large mouth that enables the hand to be easily inserted and the readiness with which it can be opened – simply by running a hat pin or steel fork prong between the lid and rubber band. This jar is self sealing – done so hermetically by suction or atmospheric pressure.”

This jar was made for the Star and Crescent Fruit Jar Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company was formed on July 8, 1896, with $10,000 Capital stock for the purpose of manufacturing and selling fruit jars.

Part of the uncertainty surrounding this jar is that the embossed December 10, 1896 date on the jar was not an official patent issue date so it has been difficult to positively identify the patentee.

Most jar authorities believe that the jars were probably made based on the April 20, 1897 patent issued to Katherine Ellmaker Gunkle and Sarah Tyson Rorer plus three others, Paul J. Kugler, Silas Jones, and Margaret C. McNally. They were directors at the Star and Crescent Fruit Jar Company when it was incorporated on July 9, 1896, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Katherine Ellmaker Gunkle, of Frasier, Pennsylvania, applied for a patent for a “Jar” on January 20, 1890, and received Patent No. 442,934 on March 11, 1890. Gunkle applied for another patent for a “Fruit-Jar” on December 14, 1895, and received Patent No. 581,112 on April 20, 1897. These undoubtedly formed the basis for the company and jars. There is virtually no question that the Star and Crescent Fruit Jar Co. was a sales unit for Gunkle’s jars – rather than a glass house that may have made the jars. That question remains unanswered.

Sarah Tyson Rorer (Mrs. S. T. Rorer) was an American food writer and pioneer in the field of domestic science or housekeeping. Rorer has been described as the first American dietitian.

Mrs. Rorer was born at Richboro, Pennsylvania, and was the daughter of a pharmacist. She received her early education in East Aurora, New York, and was educated in cooking at the New Century School of Cookery, Philadelphia. After she completed school, she herself became a teacher of cooking and dietetics at the New Century Club. In 1884 she founded the Philadelphia School of Cookery. In the course of her career, Mrs. Rorer gave many cooking exhibitions, some of them at the Pennsylvania Chautauqua where she was President of the Women’s Auxiliary Board. Her most famous demonstrations were at the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904, where she was a director and manager of the East and West Pavilions.

Mrs. Rorer was also the editor and part-owner of Table Talk from 1886 to 1892, was an editor of Household News from 1893 to 1897, then was a member of the staff of the Ladies Home Journal until 1911 when Good Housekeeping secured her services.

Support Images: Lot 153: STAR & CRESCENT SELF SEALING JAR, Rare Pint Size, Aquamarine, Closure: Original drop-on zinc cap with original milk glass liner. Appearance: Shiny glass. Condition: No damage including a good ground lip with very little flaking. Embossing: Strong. Base: “PATENTED DECR 10TH 1896” Age: Late 1800s. Availability: Extremely rare in this small size and a beautiful specimen – Greg Spurgeon, North American Glass

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

Support: Reference to Other S Marks by Bill Lockhart, Beau Schriever, Bill Lindsey, and Carol Serr

Support: Reference to Red Book #11, the Collector’s Guide to Old Fruit Jars by Douglas M. Leybourne, Jr. Use of Creswick illustration courtesy of Doug Leybourne.

Support Image (above): Lot 15290: MRS S.T. RORER’S STAR & CRESCENT SELF SEALING JAR, Quart, Aquamarine, Closure: Original drop-on zinc cap with original white milk glass liner. Appearance: Crude and sparkling glass. Condition: Normal nicking of the ground mouth. Embossing: Strong. Base: “1” Age: Late 1800s  Availability: Scarce and a great looking example – Greg Spurgeon, North American Glass

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