The Canton Domestic Fruit Jar

Provenance: Darrel Plank Collection

You don’t come across too many cobalt blue fruit jars. When you do, like antique bottles, you are captured by its beauty and depth. The Canton Domestic Fruit Jar is no exception and has to be one of the most exciting colored jars in existence.

Three brave men incorporated the Canton Glass Company in 1882. This included Joseph K. Brown of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, A. M. Bacon of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and David Barker of Brilliant, Ohio. Though risky at the time, it took only fifty thousand dollars to begin one of America’s most prosperous glass companies.

Over time, The Canton Glass Co. operated in five locations. Initial production began on October 18, 1883, at 235 Marion Street in Canton, Ohio. The company published their first advertisement on June 7, 1883, in Crockery & Glass Journal publicizing their Pressed, Brown, Cut and Engraved Table Glassware, Special French and Solid Ring Jars, Bar Goods, and Lantern Chimneys. Another newspaper ad in The Stark County Democrat, on July 14, 1887, specifically promoted The Canton Fruit Jar with an illustration of the jar and noting “Patent Applied For.”

The company was growing and employed over 200 men, and children which was a common practice in those days. They were producing enough wares to keep the factory running through the remainder of the year and for many years to follow. This included the production of three major lines of fruit jars between 1885 and 1902, with two of those extending into the Cambridge Glass Co.

The earliest fruit jar series, based on David Barker’s 1885 patent for a continuous-thread lid mold, was embossed THE CANTON FRUIT JAR and had a screw cap. The original jar was either replaced by or offered contemporarily with the newer THE CANTON ELECTRIC FRUIT JAR made from the Heston & Akers 1887 patent.

When Barker designed an improvement to the Heston & Akers closure, Canton Glass adopted the new format during 1889. At some point, probably early, the factory added the wording DOMESTIC between THE CANTON and FRUIT JAR.

Tragedy struck the Canton, Ohio plant in 1892. A glass company’s worst nightmare came to life. A terrible fire destroyed the Canton Glass Factory. Their plant was destroyed but they managed to salvage portions of their molds. Since the molds were still in working condition, the management decided to move to an existing plant at Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania instead of rebuilding. In fact, when they decided to rebuild, the board chose to relocate altogether.

Marion, Indiana was the optimal choice due to the city’s plentiful natural gas collection. The plan for the factory was published in China, Glass and Lamps on December 17, 1890, and were as follow: it would be located on the 1800 block of Spencer Avenue, there would be the main building consisting of an 80’x 164’ main room, a 12’ x 12’ shipping room, a 20’ x 30’ packing room, a 24’ x 40’ blacksmith shop, and a 40’ x 100’ machine shop with a mold room and grinding/polishing room. There was a 15-pot furnace in the main room. Also in the proposition but never built were a 20’ x 50’ cooper shop and a 250-barrel water tank. Another innovation at the Marion plant was its corrugated iron structure of the buildings and its steel roofs.

The company joined the National Glass Co. in 1899, but National closed the Marion plant in 1902 and moved to Cambridge, Ohio. Local businessmen revised the Canton Glass Co. name and a new factory at Marion, then moved to Hartford City, Indiana. All of the plants primarily produced tableware. Some of the fruit jars were continued by the Cambridge Glass Co.

Support: Canton Glass Co. and the Cambridge Glass Co. 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 Douglss M. Leybourne, Jr.

Support: Secondary images courtesy of Greg Spurgeon and North American Glass.


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