Vintage Mason Jars
Keep a Lid on it

mason jar 8

I love mason jars. I love the look, the feel of them, and the harkening back to a time period when everything seemed simpler and more wholesome. Of course, those times weren’t simple or wholesome at all. Those times had The Black Plague, doing your laundry on a washboard and gathering round the kitchen table to peel rotten potatoes for the nights entertainment. But when you put the great big, gauzy, cheesecloth that is time between now and the olden days, they seem quite lovely.

Of course, if you’ve only read about something, and not lived through it chances are it will seem nice. Writers have a way of romanticizing things. Making them appear more pleasant than they actually were. Observe …

This weekend was the last weekend for outdoor antique markets in our area, so the fella and I jumped (hobbled) into the Batmobile (regular car actually) and sped off (drove at a safe speed) into the country (right on a highway actually) for a leisurely day of antiquing (we ran at break-neck speed through the place, so we could back home to clean the gutters. Which never got done.).


The main reason I wanted to go was to see if I could pick up a few more blue glass mason jars from a favourite vendor of mine. He is a favourite because he’s pleasant, and he sells all of his blue glass Crown mason jars for $4 each regardless of size. As luck would have it he had a few left so I bought most of what he had.

As luck wouldn’t have it, because it was the last day of the flea market for the season, some vendor gave the fella a model Cadillac with broken seats and an inch of dust on it. Even worse luck, the vendor suggested to the fella it would look great on a fireplace mantel.

Once we got home, all thoughts of the gutters were put on hold as the fella went for a run and I got to work on the mason jars. The only drawback to these jars is you have to be so careful opening them because their lids come in two parts. A glass cap followed by a zinc screw on lid. If you’re in a rush or aren’t careful it’s easy to send the glass portion flying to its death. Especially if you’re a boy. Boys seem to have a much harder time with this sort of thing. I think it has to do with them being boys.

So! In order to make vintage mason jars a little more convenient for modern day living, I’ve taken to this method.

mason jar 1

Gather your jars.

mason jar 2

Grab some 100% silicone.

mason jar 3

Dab some silicone along the inside of the zinc ring.

mason jar 4

Set your glass cap onto the jar.

mason jar 5

Screw your ring on.

mason jar 6

While you’re screwing the lid on, make sure to keep the glass top centred if it has any writing or emblem on it.  Failing to do so will make you a laughingstock in the vintage, blue glass, mason jar community.

mason jar 7

Allow the jar to rest and then it’s ready to unscrew.  Keep the lid off the jar for 2-3 days.  This will give the silicone enough time to completely, and absolutely cure so there’s no chance of the silicone fumes permeating your food.

Now when you unscrew the lids, the glass caps will be stuck to the lids and won’t go shooting across the kitchen counter like a hockey puck, smashing on the kitchen floor.

 Sometime in the near future I’ll show you what I plan to do with these jars.  I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but envision pictures of roasted chestnuts, warm cider, and golden, sweet honey gathered from nearby wildflower fields.   Were you able to read that?  Or was it too difficult to see through the cheesecloth?



  1. Jennifer says:

    Are there replacement lids produced for Crown jars? I have the jars, but no lids. I see “Gem” lids at Canadian Tire, but I have no idea what would fit. Do you know? I don’t need to preserve anything; just having a lid to keep herbs or pasta fresh would be enough. Thanks!

  2. Patti Peterson says:

    Would be very interested in the crown jars with the crown on it. Also interested in thcrown glass lids. If you don’ t have any available, you are welcome to share my email with any vendors that do aquire them on a regular basis. Thanks!

  3. Megan Jones says:

    I have about give or take 100 old time Mason Jars with the glass tops. I have pictures as well if need be. Anyone interested in buying them or some

  4. Maureen says:

    We were given about 48 quart Crown Jars. We want to use them to home can. Do you know where we could find modern lids that will fit the jars?
    Thanks so much!

  5. Tammy says:

    My grandfather used to go “treasure hunting” in the Niagara Falls area with his metal detector, shovel and old maps. He used to find where homes used to be (long gone at the time – in the 50s through 70s) and dig around to where people threw their daily garbage.
    He’s find tons of bottles (mostly ink and medicine), glass insulators, even the odd porcelain doll head.
    He passed away 5 years ago, and I took over organizing and ‘getting rid of’ all the stuff.
    Sold as much as I could for my grandmother (for her care).
    Now I have run into a box of glass mason jar lids. I cleaned them up (just a little soap, water and soft toothbrush) and gosh, they’re pretty.
    All different kinds too.
    Some Crown, some Hamilton Glass, some with crosses on top or starburst patterns…some aqua glass, some clear, some gone pink or purple, one green and some milk glass.
    I guess I’ll list them on ebay; They are nice, but I really don’t need 80-100 of these glass mason jar lids.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tammy. Those lids haven’t “gone” pink or purple … they were made that way. :) In fact, one of my readers was on the hunt for a purple one! ~ karen

      • Tammy says:

        Ah, thanks, Karen! I thought they were like the clear glass telephone insulators that turned purple with exposure to UV.
        I particularly like the “Crown” one, as it’s such a nice colour (light lilacy-mauve).
        I really do not know much about these; and wondered if I could make them inot something interesting (ex. sort of like stained glass or something) if they have little on-line resale value (ex. big ol box for $10 plus shipping kind of thing).
        Trying to make some money for grandma…
        Too bad I can’t post a pic here, maybe people would like to see the different designs on the tops and colours too!
        I’m happy to share pics for those who are interested in collecting.

        • Monique says:

          Hi Tammy
          Karen passed on this information to me as I am the one looking for a Crown light purple mason jar lid because my husband broke both of them when he opened the jars. This time I am putting the jar totally out of reach. Can I please buy one from you. By the way, you are right. They turn purple because of the UV rays. See my note above a few of these #42. Please email me if this is possible. I would be so grateful.

        • Monique says:

          Hi Tammy.
          It’s Monique again. I just noticed my email does not show up so I guess we have to connect this way. I will look for your reply to buy a purple mason jar lid from you.

        • Tammy says:

          Thanks Karen, for putting us in touch.
          I don’t know if what I have here will help Monique, but we will try.
          My grandfather would have been happy to know that these ‘little treasures’; which were fun to find and dig up, but then stored in boxes for decades – might get a new home, appreciated by a collector.
          Today would have been his birthday, too.

        • Karen says:

          Perfect! ~ karen

  6. Monique says:

    I have a beautiful larger size purple mason jar and my husband broke the first crown lid and it took me forever to replace it and now he just broke the other one. I wish i knew of this idea before. It’s great. I am currently trying to find another purple crown lid and when I do I will get that silicone!
    Thanks for a great tip!
    P.S. I’m in Canada so if you come accross one I’d be happy to buy it from you.

  7. hey Karen what flea market do you go do? are you willing to give up your sources to locals?


    • Karen says:

      Well it depends on what I’m looking for. I go to Aberfoyle, a gross old one that used to be called Circle M but now is called something else which I can’t remember … Mitzners maybe, Southworks antiques, Clappisons antiques (pricey), Freelton Flea market and a lot of general thrift stores like Goodwill and such. ~ karen!

  8. Danee says:

    I keep my dad’s marbles in an old mason jar.


    He gave them to me already in the jar in 2009.

    The new clamp type I use for canning and lunch, it is oh so nice to pull out a jar and eat my lunch at work, tupperware and it’s many knock offs aren’t as pleasing to eat a pasta salad out of. Plus they stain or pick up smells from the copious amounts of garlic and onions that I put in my pasta salad.

    The old ones are good for storing non edibles like my dad’s marbles or my great grandmother’s buttons. She lost her marbles back in 1908. She was a bad cook too, if I had stuff that she made in a mason jar to eat, I wouldn’t eat it. mainly she liked to jar bugs. I had many of those growing up. Jars of bugs from under her dock on Hamilton Lake, Indiana. But I digress.

  9. Rhonda says:

    I have some old mason jars that have rust on the tops of the jars. What is the best way to remove this and would they be safe for canning? Thankyou

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rhonda. It depends on how old the jars are. If you mean the old fashioned kind like I’m showing, then no they’re not safe for canning. They don’t have proper seals. Also, any lids that are rusty aren’t safe for canning either. (neither the new lids or the old lids) This is because the rust will prevent a proper seal from forming. Any rust, dings or dents will stop a proper seal which can lead to botulism and such. If you want to clean the rust off the lids, just for display, just use an steel wool to rub it off. ~ karen!

  10. What? Why am I always learning so much from your blog? Another brilliant idea! If you are ever in Hamilton, there’s a place called Avenue Antiques on Ottawa Street, just south of Barton on the East side. It’s a door with a large green sign above “Avenue” and leads to a very large basement store. They have tons of blue glass canning jars for a good price and you can barter with them. We go into Hamilton to this place every few months. wendy

  11. Kelly says:

    I have a large quantity of Crown Jars I would like to sell. Live in Port Perry, Ontario Kelly

  12. Jess says:

    Love it! I LOVE blue mason jars. I have a smaller on that I use as a vase for flowers…so simple but beautiful! I have a hard time finding them though because I just don’t know where to look. I lucked out at the thrift store with the one I have.

  13. I love these jars! They have such good character to them. I use regular Ball mason jars to store food in (pasta, rice, flour and such). They look so charming in the pantry and do a great job of keeping things fresh and the bugs out! I use paint pens to label them. :-) Really wish I had some of these though…

  14. anon says:

    hmmm, i was helping my fella clean out his garage and he had a bunch of mason jars, in blue too, with the glass inserts also. no crowns. i don’t care for the zinc lids. anyway. we took some stuff to a junk store on the way to take other stuff to GoodWill, and the young man helping us empty the truck said “hey, what you going to do with these jars? my Gf LOVES them”. so we gave them to him.
    so you never know, you could get some from someone that doesn’t even like them?!?!!?

  15. Ian says:

    I have to take exception with the last comment by Gayla;) I’m a guy and I LOVE old crown jars. I have several different sizes stored away somewhere but I’ve never figured out what to do with them. I also can tomatoes, peaches, and pears and have thought of using the old crown jars for canning, as I still see the rubber rings for sale at Home Hardware but am worried they might explode. And before you ask, I’m not gay. LOL. I just like old things:)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ian – Yup. My first thought was you were gay. I have to admit I like you a little less now knowing you’re not. Alas. :) So … please, do not, under any circumstances use your vintage crown jars for canning. Although lots of people used these for canning in the 1800’s, lots of people also mysteriously died. Stick with the modern canning jars. ~ karen! :)

  16. Gayla T says:

    We don’t see these in Kansas either. What we have here are the Good Luck Jars. I have a set of all the sizes and have loved them and lugged them around from house to house. The half gallon got broken by my first grandchild so of course that was A-OK with this Granny. If anyone else had done it it would have been drama. It took me years to replace it, with her being in college when I did. The quarts are a dime a dozen. I think they were made in OK so they do drift over the borders a lot. They have the glass lids held in place with the metal bale handle. What is it with women and glass canning jars?

  17. SK Farm Girl says:

    Funny you should have this as Tuesday’s blog as I was cleaning out a cupboard in the basement of my house and found my stash of such jars!! I totally forgot I had them, shame on me I know! They are now freshly washed and ready for lovely bits of this and that to go into them and be proudly displayed in my kitchen! We must be kindred spirits! PS – Tried that Helluvagooddip the other day and I must say, SHAZAM, BLAM, KAPOW! Holy snappin’ arseholes Margaret (I mean Karen)is that stuff good!!!

  18. Lynn says:

    I had no idea these jars existed. Now that I know I must have one, or 5. The hunt begins today.

    P.S. thanks for not keeping a lid on them. hee hee

  19. Nancy grantz says:

    I liked the French rolling pin. The wood is so beautiful, it make you want to create something!

  20. Jane says:

    Love your blog. Here is another lid adaptation for your consideration.

  21. karen says:

    I love mason jars too! So much that I created a new cap for them. I found your site by searching blogs on my cap to help spread the word!

  22. Cecile says:

    Hi Karen,
    The absolute best place to find Crown jars is Estate sales or Estate auctions! Dirt cheap (maybe because of the good coating of DIRT you find on them!)! I got a bushel of them one time for $5.00 and passed them on to my mom. Do I have to wait for her estate sale to get them back-sure hope not! lol

  23. Jules says:

    Have you seen these badboys? I lurve mason jars and old ones and really want these to be available:

  24. Nancy says:

    WOW Karen..I so love the Crown jar..if I had known about these I would have been on a search the three times that I have traveled to Ontario on vacations..Blue mason jars are fairly easy to find here in Pennsylvania which is a haven for antique shopping and flea markets..many are found without lids but it is pretty easy to find lids and the glass inserts separately to complete them..I have found prices ranging from a couple dollars to “ridiculous”..if you are lucky enough to find one that is a different color than blue or white they are usually high priced..Enjoy your pretty collection..also glad to hear that you did not have to keep the Cadillac on the

  25. Nicole says:

    I loooove these old jars, I collect them too. I put old buttons in them. The reasons for this is 1) I love buttons and 2) my husband not so much (well, I’m assuming) and this way he won’t be touching my jars and sending the lids flying. Although, now I can prevent that with your great tip!

  26. mimiindublin says:

    Cheesecloth is a great invention, lol re scent of ricotta! I don’t think we have Mason jars in Ireland, think ppl use tupperware or Ikea stuff, but great idea to glue lids!

    • Karen says:

      Mimi – Hah! We use Tupperware too. These mason jars are from the 1800’s. 1920s at the latest. You don’t have antique canning jars there? Weird. Maybe people were canning in Tupperware. ;) ~ karen

  27. Melanie says:

    When I saw the title I was hoping it was advice on how to keep a lid on collecting them! I have them in every room in my house- bathroom, laundry, kitchen, garage and still keep buying them. I bought one this weekend. The Salvation Army in Woodstock ON had a whole box of them last week for $3 each. Thanks for the silicone tip- will modify my technique.

  28. Rhonda "SmartyPants" says:

    Gees, Karen, you’ve touched a soft spot with me, too. I love, love, l-o-v-e vintage Mason jars, with or without the vintage glass lids and I am especially taken with the jars that have the clamp-on lids — oh, la, la.

    My only question about your great post today concerns the cheesecloth. The only cheesecloth I have is what I use when I makde the homemade ricotta in one of your recent posts. (BTW, yum and double yum-yum). So, when wearing the cheesecloth over my head as was suggested, is it best to use it before or after rinsing the whey away? I tried it both ways and, other than the ‘smell’ of the old days, there was hardly any difference. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard of anyone refer to the olden days as smelling pretty terrific so maybe it is a moot point?

    • Karen says:

      Rhonda – Depends on your mood. If you’re feeling especially sullen, leave the whey in the cheesecloth for an amplified effect. Not so sullen? Clean cheesecloth is fine. If you need an added boost, throw on a pair of rose coloured glasses. ~ karen

  29. Martha Kunkel says:

    You guys are lucky. You obviously live in an area occupied by civilized people for a time period sufficiently long to generate great items at your area flea markets. I live in West Texas where nothing is more than 10 minutes old and Tupperware from the 1950’s is considered ‘antique’. I’m jealous.

    Also, it probably rains where you live and I bet you don’t have ‘range fire season’ from early March to late November. And your Granny’s last words as you tore out the back door probably weren’t “You be a good girl and watch out for snakes!”

    • Karen says:

      Hahahha! Yup. Don’t particularly have to watch out for snakes. Other than garter snakes. Which aren’t much bigger than a strand of spaghetti. ~ karen!

  30. Emily says:

    Wow, those are beautiful jars. I’ve never seen a glass top Mason jar, I’ve only seen the zinc tops and the hinged glass tops w/rubber seals. I love the blue Mason jars – I found a gallon size blue milk jar from a dairy in Racine, WI in the basement of an old house here on our farm. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the glass tops.

  31. Andrea Clem says:

    Those are so neat. I’ve never seen Crown jars or glass lids. Are those strictly Canadian? Here in the states we have blue Ball jars. I only have one but I love it. I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for the Crown jars just for something different. Thanks for sharing =)

  32. Cindy Marlow says:

    Things must be more expensive in the USA. I really like these Crown jars – even more than I like the Ball jars that I collect. My glass lids are milk glass, not clear. Maybe we could negotiate a trade? Just sayin’…

  33. Langela says:

    I have never seen jars with a glass lid and screw band. I have the glass lids with the wire closure. Thanks for showing me something new to look for.

  34. pam says:

    I’ve been collecting these for years, through my mum who is an antiques dealer in Northern Ontario. I’ve even got a really large pink one and purple one too.

    A little history: Crown jars were made from about 1880 to 1965. At first, they were made by hand and cut (ground lip) and then by machine (smooth lip). Apparantly, the ground lips were in every colour, blues, greens, amber, amethyst and some clear. Then when they started with machines, they were mainly clear from mid 1920’s on. If you are into Crown Jars, the crowns themselves have a fabulous variety of shapes, pearls, etc etc. There’s some lovely shades of apple green as well.

    One of the best places to snag these things are yard sales – up north, where lots of seniors live. :) :)

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Pam! It’s actually really hard to find any good information on Crown jars. It looks like I have a few with the ground lip. For my purposes, I actually don’t like them, LOL, because they’re much harder to screw the lids on. Thanks again for the info! ~ karen

    • Janet Lewis says:

      I have a Crown jar that has the year 1967 on the bottom, was surprised that they were made until that year!

  35. marilyn says:


  36. marilyn says:

    great idea karen, i have several of these with various foodstuffs in them so this will work really well for me, the worst one being my oatmeal wjoch i eat most mornings. always a struggle holding the glass on..

  37. Jan says:

    I’ll dig mine out of the deep, dark recesses of my cabinet and start using them again. They are simply beautiful.

  38. Gwen says:

    I wish I could find these in New Zealand! Will have to look around… love the blue glass. :)

  39. deanna says:

    Karen ~

    Somehow, your site stumbled onto my screen one night and I was
    instantly hooked! I look forward to reading your easy style and have shared not only your insight, but your address with friends I do not see every day. Thank you for your humor – it is truly refreshing.
    Love these jars, I’ve never seen the glass and zinc lids in the USA. They are stunning and can’t wait to see what you’re up to with them!

  40. Codi says:

    But where is the pic of the model Caddy?

  41. Justin says:

    What, no picture of the Cadillac for the boys that follow your blog?

  42. Laura says:

    Can’t wait to see your plan. I, too, have a plan for my very plain, ordinary mason jars for holiday decor. I’m jealous of yours.

  43. rebecca gostin says:

    Those are so pretty

  44. Marti says:

    You’ve topped yourself. Fun and a great read with a slight sense of “teaser” at the end. :)

  45. cheri says:

    You are a savior. I, from this day forward, will be wearing cheesecloth draped over my head.

    Thanks for the smile!!

  46. Lizzy says:

    does the east have some sort of treasure trove of glass top masons?!?!? I live in Alberta and have found a total of 1…most are the original base with yer typical tin lid and screw top. the one i found was the “Jewel” mason jars…sighh…hunting season continues

    • Karen says:

      Lizzy – Not only are these glass top mason jars, they’re blue! I have a few of the clear ones too. The flea market I go to has tons of them, but they’re usually around $14 for the extra large one that’ll fit a small box of cereal. These were all a bargain at $4 a piece! Yay! Keep lookin. :) ~ karen

  47. Megan says:

    Funnily enough I just put our dog treats in two such jars a couple of days ago and the first thing the fellow said was “these jars sure look nice, but they can be a pain to deal with”.

    • Karen says:

      Megan – I’ve had my brown sugar in a jar like this for about a year, and was always afraid the fella is gonna send the glass lid smashing to the floor. Hence … the gluing. ~ karen

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