How Do You Identify A Vintage Kerr Mason Jar?

Vintage Kerr mason jars were produced by the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation, which was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1904 ( The company was named after its founder Alexander H. Kerr, and quickly became a leading manufacturer of glass canning jars used for home canning and food preservation. Kerr mason jars with the “KERR GLASS MFG. CO.” mark were made between approximately 1915 up until the 1930s.

Vintage Kerr mason jars are popular among collectors and antique pickers for their iconic design and durability. Many vintage Kerr jars made from 1910-1930 featured unique embossing patterns, logos, colors, and closures that help identify the era they were made. Kerr is credited with innovating the glass insert lid in the 1920s, which created a tighter seal than earlier zinc lids. The vintage look and air-tight seal of Kerr jars make them great for home decor, crafts, and storing dry goods today.

Where to Find Vintage Kerr Jars

Some of the best places to find vintage Kerr jars include:

Antique stores – Many antique stores will have a selection of vintage glassware, including Kerr mason jars. The jars may be priced individually or sold in bulk lots. Antique malls with multiple vendors are also a good place to check.

Flea markets – Vintage Kerr jars are commonly found at flea markets and swap meets. Vendors may specialize in glassware or have a random assortment of antiques and collectibles. Flea markets take some digging, but you can uncover great finds.

Online auctions/listings – Sites like eBay and Etsy offer vintage Kerr jars from sellers across the country. Search using keywords like “vintage Kerr jar” or “antique Kerr mason.” Browse by jar size, color, graphics, etc. Auctions allow bidding on rare finds.

Distinguishing Kerr Jar Features

There are a few key features to look for when identifying a Kerr mason jar:

  • Logos – Kerr jars feature the Kerr name and logo, which has changed over the years. Early Kerr jars had a simple “KERR” stamped on the side. In 1915, they added the words “Self Sealing” and an eagle logo. In the 1930s, the logo changed to “Kerr Glass Mfg Corp.”
  • Colors – Most Kerr jars are clear glass, but some were made in shades of green, blue, amber, and pink. The colored jars are more rare and valuable.
  • Sizes – Kerr made jars in a variety of sizes like quart, pint, and half-pint. Unique sizes like the #13 Kerr Economy jar are also prized by collectors.
  • Glass Type – Earlier Kerr jars have a lighter aqua tint while later jars are crystal clear. They can also be distinguished by seam lines – earlier jars had rough seams while modern jars have smoother seams.

Examining all these details can help date and authenticate Kerr mason jars. The logo styles and colors give the biggest clues to age and rarity.

Dating Your Kerr Jar

There are a few key features to look for when dating a Kerr jar:1

  • Logo – The main Kerr logo to look for is the stylized “KERR” in all capital letters. This was used starting in 1933. Jars with this logo date from 1933-1962.
  • Mold Numbers – Kerr jars will usually have a mold number on the bottom. This is a one or two digit number that identifies the mold it was made with. Lower numbers generally indicate older jars.
  • Size – Smaller jar sizes like 4 oz or 8 oz generally indicate earlier jars from the 1900s-1920s. Larger sizes like quarts and half gallons came later.
  • Color – Kerr jars came in aqua, clear, and green glass. Aqua was the earliest color used. Clear glass became more common after 1915.
  • Embossing – Early Kerr jars often had “Self Sealing” embossed around the shoulder. Jars embossed “Kerr Glass Mfg Corp” date after 1933.

Some additional clues are the type of closure, shape of the lip, seam lines, and any other mold markings. Comparing your jar to verified examples found online can help narrow down the date.2

Most Valuable Kerr Jars

Some of the rarest and most collectible Kerr jars include:

Kerr Self-Sealing Jars – These were some of the earliest mason jars produced by Kerr starting in 1915. The jars featured a glass lid with a rubber gasket for sealing and Kerr’s patent embossing on the side. The earliest versions in aqua or green glass can sell for $50-100.

Kerr Economy Jars – Kerr introduced these wide-mouth quart jars in 1923 and made them until the 1930s. They have less embossing and were intended to be a more affordable option. The hard-to-find jars in amber or green can fetch $30-60.

Kerr Lite Lid Jars – Kerr introduced the Lite Lid in the 1930s which attached to the jar with a glass threaded lid instead of wire bales. The olive green and cobalt blue Lite Lid jars are very rare and can sell for upwards of $100-300.

Flaccus Bros Kerr Jars – Kerr merged with the Flaccus Bros glass company in 1938. Jars made just before the merger can have embossing from both companies. These hybrid jars can sell for $50-100.

Kerr Centennial Jars – In 1993, Kerr released special edition centennial jars to celebrate 100 years in business. These have detailed embossing on a smooth surface without bubbles. Centennial jars sell for $20-50.

Checking for Authenticity

With vintage and antique jars being valuable collectors’ items, it’s important to authenticate that a Kerr jar is truly from the era it claims. Here are some tips for ensuring authenticity:

Examine the logo and lettering – Original Kerr jars will have the correct logos for the time period. For example, jars made between 1915-1923 should have a diamond logo that reads “Kerr Self-Sealing Jar”. Jars made after 1923 will have a circular Kerr logo.

Inspect the glass – Older glass will have slight imperfections like bubbles or waviness. Machine-made modern jars will have seamless glass. Genuine antique jars also have a distinctive “ping” sound when tapped.

Look at the lid – Lids changed over time, so ensure the lid matches the era of the jar based on logo and markings. Older zinc lids corrode unlike modern lids.

Consider the color – Certain colors like cornflower blue were only produced for a limited time. Rare colors can indicate an early jar.

Assess wear and damage – Signs of wear like lid corrosion or minor nicks help authenticate age. However, excessive damage can diminish value.

Research identifying marks – Numbers, letters, and symbols marked on the jar can help date and ID it. Consult collector resources to decipher the codes.

When in doubt, consult an expert appraiser. They can inspect the jar and validate its age and estimated value.

Cleaning and Caring

When cleaning vintage Kerr jars, it’s important to avoid damaging them and decreasing their value. Here are some tips for safely cleaning Kerr jars:

  • Wash jars by hand using warm, soapy water. Avoid harsh scrubbing that could scratch the glass. Use a soft cloth or sponge.
  • For stubborn dirt or residue, fill the jar with hot water and a bit of baking soda or vinegar. Let it soak before gently scrubbing.
  • Take care not to warp or crack the lid by exposing it to extreme temperature changes. Don’t boil lids or run them under very hot water.
  • Dry jars thoroughly after washing. Allow jars and lids to completely air dry before storing.
  • Check jars for any rust or corrosion. Use fine steel wool to gently remove rust spots.
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners, bleach, or ammonia, as these can damage jars.
  • Handle jars carefully to avoid cracks or chips. Older jars may be more fragile.

Gently cleaning vintage Kerr jars preserves their integrity and value as collectibles. Avoid harsh scrubbing and cleaners that could cause scratches or damage. With proper care, Kerr jars can be cleaned while maintaining their vintage charm.


Using Vintage Kerr Jars

Vintage Kerr jars make charming and functional additions to any home. Here are some tips for repurposing these vintage jars:

For decoration, consider displaying Kerr jars around your home filled with colorful candies, flowers, or other small objects. Cluster them on shelves, use them as part of centerpieces, or line them up on your windowsills. Vintage Kerr jars add a nostalgic touch to any decor.

The vintage lids make Kerr jars perfect for storage around the home. Use them to hold q-tips in the bathroom, organize a junk drawer in the kitchen, store nails and screws in the garage, or hold pens and pencils on a desk. The vintage look elevates ordinary household storage.

Kerr jars are ideal for storing dry foods like beans, rice, pasta, granola, coffee, tea, and more. Make your pantry look great by transferring everyday ingredients into vintage Kerr jars. You can even give some as gifts filled with homemade baked goods.

For crafters, Kerr jars are a staple supply for projects. Upcycle them into beautiful painted vases, luminary candles, or pencil holders. Use them when making crafts like sensory bottles, layered art, or suncatchers. Their classic design fits with many crafting styles.

Repurposed Kerr jars also make wonderful vases for fresh or faux flower arrangements. Use them as bud vases around your home or create a gorgeous centerpiece for your dining table. The thick glass and prominent logo lend to the vintage charm.

Selling Your Vintage Kerr Jar

If you’re lucky enough to own a rare or valuable vintage Kerr jar, you may be interested in selling it for a profit. There are a couple of options for selling your jar:

Auction vs Direct Sale

You can list your jar in an online auction on sites like eBay or live auction houses. This allows multiple buyers to bid against each other, potentially driving up the final sale price. However, there’s no guarantee your jar will meet the reserve price. Direct sale platforms like Etsy allow you to list the jar for a “buy it now” fixed price. This method provides more certainty but you need to accurately price your jar.


Research completed auctions and current listings to determine fair market value. Rare jars in pristine condition tend to fetch higher prices. Consider the jar’s age, color, graphics, embossing, closure type and any damage. Unique colors like cornflower blue or mint green may command premium pricing. Set a competitive price but don’t exaggerate the value.

Description Tips

Provide detailed information in your listing title and description. Note the exact embossing, dimensions, graphics, condition and any identifying marks. Take sharp, well-lit photos showing all sides of the jar. Mention any chips, cracks, rust or discoloration affecting condition. Share details on the jar’s provenance if known. Answer any potential buyer questions upfront.


In summary, there are a few key ways to identify vintage Kerr jars made before the 1960s. Look at the color of the glass, the logo styles, the type of lid, and any embossing on the sides. Compare your jar to reference guides to date the jar and determine rarity. Authentic vintage Kerr jars in good condition can be quite valuable to collectors.

When trying to verify if you have an antique Kerr jar, examine it closely and look up visual guides. Key indicators are the mold numbers, logos, colors, and embossing. Handle the jar carefully and check for signs of wear. Consider getting an appraisal before selling rare vintage jars. With a bit of research, you can discover the history and value of your vintage Kerr Mason jars.

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