Mason Jar Lids 101

While some people have no problem going topless… this gal aint going topless for any amount of money! Let’s face it, this aint Mardi Gras. So, pack up your beads ladies and gents, today, we are putting a top on it!!

Vintage Mason Jar Lids

It’s no secret that I am a lover of all things mason jar! Clear ones. Blue ones. Short ones. Fat ones. I don’t discriminate. And we have Mr. John Landis Mason to thank!


Here he is… yup, that handsome fella, at the ripe age of 26, was a tinsmith in New York City. In 1858, Mr. Mason perfected a machine that cut threads into a lid, allowing one to screw a lid onto a canning jar, thus the Mason jar was born!! Yeah. At 26 years old, he invented the Mason jar! Sounds like something my entreprenuer brother would do!

Old Galvanized Mason Jar Lids

But don’t freak out!! If you have a Mason jar that says “Mason’s Patent Nov. 30th 1858”, that doesn’t mean the jar was made in 1858. It simply notates the date of Mr. Mason’s patent. Jars with this marking were widely produced until about 1920. We’ll talk more about the jars themselves in another post. But back to the lids… prior to Mason’s innovation, canning jars had flat, un-threaded tops. To seal those jar, one would lay a flat tin lid on top and seal it with wax. It was very messy, unreliable, and unsafe. The lack of a secure seal allowed bacteria to grow in the jar. So not only did, Mason’s new jar make it easier for families to preserve their harvest, but it kept them safer too!!

Mason Jar Lids 101

That is until 1869, when Lewis Boyd realized the zinc found in those lids was unsafe as well. That’s when he took the Mason jar lid to another level by adding the ‘porcelain’ inserts. I say, quote, ‘porcelain’ because in all actuality, very few lids were lined with true porcelain. Instead most of them were lined with glass. Mostly white milkglass, but in rare instances they were lined with a milky aqua, green, or blue! I’ve never seen a colored insert, but I’d love to find one on one of our junk adventures!!

Mason Jar Lids with Porcelain Inserts

Often times, over the years, these inserts will pop out. So don’t be surpised if you find some lids that are missing their ‘porcelain’ counterpart. These types of lids were made well into the 1950’s. And after a brief chat with a farmer up north, he told me about the infamous ‘Lucky 13’ lid! Much like its mason jar counterpart, there are stories that moonshiners, back in the day, busted all of the jars marked with a 13, seeing them as unlucky. Whether this is true or not, is a topic for debate, but I still check every lid I get… because let’s be real, people are paying a pretty penny for the Lucky 13 jar, especially if it has a lid!!

No such luck here…

Lucky 13 Inside Mason Jar Lid

Just like with jars, there are lots of different brands out there. While Ball is probably the most popular, there are others that are worth way more! I’ll dive deeper into this in my Mason Jar 101 post. But for now, just know that each jar has a corresponding lid. So keep an eye out! You never know when you may run across a topless jar and need a specific lid. In my stash, I have a couple different Atlas lids…

Old Galvanized Fruit Jar Lids

Old Atlas Mason Jar Lid


And of course lots of Ball lids too…Is My Mason Jar Lid Old?

How Old Is My Ball Mason Jar Lid?

I’m wondering if there’s a Drey mason jar lid out there?? Have you ever seen one? I have a Drey jar (pre-1925). It has a lid, but I’m not sure if it’s the original. Keep your eye out and let me know… will ya?! In the mean time, I hope you enjoyed this little junk lesson! If you’re itching for more mason jar fun, head over to my Mason Jar Pinterest Board! I’ve pinned the best of the best when it comes to mason jar crafts, decor, and upcycled bliss!!

Follow Rusted Roots’s board Mason Jar Roots on Pinterest.

If you want to read more about mason jar lids, check out these awesome resources… here, here, here, & here.

Until next time, let us remember..

Beauty Stems from Rusted Roots

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  1. I love learning about what I am picking. I recently bought a collection of vintage glass bottles some dating back to 1910. I bought 124 from a man who was digging up his back yard and found a bottle dump. I can’t wait to start researching them!

    • Candace says:

      Oh my gosh, Michelle!! How fun is that?? I love it when the pieces I find have a story!! You should go take a picture of the house where the bottles were dug up! That’d be neat!! Or research the history of the area… who knows what that area used to be!! I’m so jealous!! Let me know what you learn about them!!! I’m just as excited as you are!!

  2. Regina Slider says:

    I have a question, I was recently told that my Atlas metal mason jar lids with the milk glass insert were made in the late 60’s and early 70’s ? I have searched and googled my fingers off but cannot find out any way to figure out just how old they are. I thought mason jars had switched over to the threaded metal cap with the metal seal inside by then. AT least that’s what I used when I was canning back then. lol

    Can you verify if in fact they were produced as late as the 60’s? I don’t believe they were made in the 70’s for sure but they could be from the 60’s I guess.

    Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

  3. Linda White says:

    Drey jars came with the aluminum lid in the same style as the zinc lid. Also, Ball continued to manufacture Drey jars for a while after they acquired Drey.

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