Monday, June 22, 2009

Amethyst Economy

This is a piece of paper that I found on eBay - and had to have. After watching two particular collectible categories, letterhead and billhead for two months, I finally saw this piece and could not resist. Even without the addition of my art work, this piece of paper is fascinating. The vignette which is an integral part of the letterhead depicts five women in various stages of the canning process - and includes a disembodied right hand placing a peach in a canning jar.

For those who don't know, I have a fascination with GLASS, and over the years have portrayed glass in graphite, pen & ink, acrylic, oil, watercolor and colored pencil. Looking at a piece of glass that has some color already in it is like holding a slide up to the light - your eye perceives true color without the distraction of other colors.

Kerr glass canning jars are primarily clear, unlike other glass canning jars, such as Ball, that come in a variety of colors. With the help of a long time collector of canning jars, Larry Munson of Devon, Montana, I was able to portray the only colored glass jar that Kerr produced, and I believe they produced it by accident. My gain!


  1. Now THAT is gorgeous! This is a letterhead that truly DESERVES your artful enhancement. I could spend hours looking.

    Many curiosities: Why named "Economy"? How did it seal with no rubber ring? What makes you think they produced the color by accident? What does the lettering say below Economy, and around the bottom? Did she always dress this way on canning day? Oh, Listen! Is that Scott Joplin I hear on the player piano?

  2. And I just lost out on a piece of Wing & Son piano paper. I got outbid and out-smarted. I had a really wonderful piece of art work planned for it, too.

  3. Penny,
    Manganese Oxide was added to the glass to make it clear, but as I understand it, the chemical is what turns the glass purple when it is exposed to sunlight - over time. The lettering around the bottom, although you'd have to be able to read it backwards (easy for me, not so perhaps for you) is PORTLAND, OREGON, which was cut into the mold into which the glass was 'blown' to form the jar.

  4. Now that you mention exposure to sunlight--of course that's what caused it. We have over a dozen old glass door knobs in our circa 1929 home. The knob which had been on the outside of the leaded glass French doors to the deck is the only colored one--and it is that exact purplish color. Those double doors now open into Chuck's photography shop.

    So sorry about the piano paper. There's more paper like that somewhere...out there....

  5. Did a little research of my own, and found this in an online pictorial "jar taxonomy":
    Economy Amethyst color. Rubber seal on lid. Patented 1903. Quart. Maker: Kerr Glass Co. First all machine made jar.
    Your paper says "uses no rubber ring". Perhaps in the ensuing years, they figured out how to do it without the rubber ring.

  6. I had an amythest Economy jar up until last summer when it broke. :-(

    It was a neat piece. I don't even remember where I got it, but it was several years ago, probably at an antique fair (in the days when things like that used to sell for very little).

  7. Penny,

    The lid which is attached to the jar by a spring clip was the forerunner of the lid that is used today. The 'rubber ring' was a part of the lid itself. Advertising being what it is, you truthfully did not need a 'separate' rubber ring. Some jars were sealed using wax, which was pored into a well which circled the top ring of the jar. The lid for these was impressed into the wax and held in place with a clamp.


    I'd never seen an Amethyst colored jar until Mr. Munson sent me photographs of those he has in his collection. Brilliantly colorful. We've a number of Ball jars in various shades of blue that came from my mother-in-law's 'collection' as it were. They were used by her mother in the Teens and Twenties for canning garden vegetables and fruit.