Wax Sealer Jar

Provenance: Darrell Plank Collection

Wax Sealer jars predate the Civil War. In 1854, James Spratt from Cincinnati, Ohio, came up with the first groove-ring wax sealer. His jar was a replacement for soldered tin cans, which were short-lived because of spoilage and content taste. He next used a tin can with a screw cap as the primary seal followed by a wax seal over the edge of the cap. It was still less than desirable because the tin affected the taste.

In 1855, Robert Arthur patented the glass groove-ring wax sealer. His patent called for the wax to be poured in a groove around the mouth of the jar. All a person had to do then was heat the lid and press it into the wax.

See our museum example of an Arthur’s Patent Air-tight Self-Sealing Can.

Our museum example is called a “Bell-Shaped Wax Sealer.” There is a glass pontil on the bottom and it is free-blown. The intense sapphire blue jar would have been made in the mid-1850s. This particular example was found in the walls of a barn before the owner bought it off eBay. The wax sealing channel is big and gloppy and the whole jar has a lot of personality with a primitive feel. The jar is typically found in half-gallon and quart sizes and while never common, they are much more common in an aquamarine glass. There are pint examples known in a very pleasing teal color which seem to be from the same source. The pints have a glass pontil, wide channel, and are also bell-shaped.

L. G. Harley was advertising his Self-Sealing Fruit Cans in 1856 in Warren, Ohio. It is interesting how so many fruit jars originated in Ohio. Our museum example source is unknown though it was likely from the Pittsburgh region or a glasshouse in the Ohio Valley.

Primary Image: The Bell-Shaped Wax Sealer Jar imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio

Support: Legends of the Jar! Darrell Plank by Bruce W. Schank, Bottles and Extras, November-December 2011

Support Image: Aqua bell-shaped wax sealer quart from Greg Spurgeon, North American Glass.

Support Image: Auction Lot 155: Bell Shaped Wax Sealer Fruit Jar, (RB-3061), probably Pittsburgh District, ca. 1850 – 1860, bluish aqua half-gallon, 10 1/4”h, open pontil, blown in a dip mould and has an applied wax seal ring. A matching color rimed lid accompanies the jar. A few light (as expected) scratches, otherwise in perfect condition. – Jim Hagenbuch, Glass Works Auctions, Auction #153

Support: Fruit Jars… A History Worth Remembering by Melissa Milner, Bottles and Extras, Winter 2004

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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