History once again came full-circle, as Jan. 20 marked the annual Midwest Antique Fruit Jar and Bottle Club Convention. Collectors from all across the country loaded their prized possessions and token finds to display and sell in Muncie, Indiana. The Ball Mason Jar was patented in 1884 by the Ball Brothers, 34 years before they founded Ball State University.
Monty Foust, the event coordinator, said the convention is in its 25th year at its Downtown Muncie location in the Horizon Center, with just over 50 collectors in attendance.
Fruit jar and bottle collecting has maintained its success due to its realm of interest: decorative appeal and color tint, but mostly because Foust said“there's history involved,” drawing back to America's agricultural roots and the functionality of glass jars to preserve food.
No matter the reason behind one’s collection, the community is close-knit. Foust divided the enjoyment he gets from being event coordinator into a 60-to-40 ratio. 60 percent camaraderie, 40 percent jar-collecting, a sentiment echoed by several vendors.
Duke Sipes is a dairy and milk bottle collector who got his start by visiting auctions and his local antique stores. Sipes — who has a barn full of inventory — resells the majority of his bottle findings for others to enjoy and appreciate. He is always willing to negotiate prices because he wants to share appreciation with others.
“I’m not in it for the money. It’s a hobby,” he said.
Jane Dawson has been a Ball Mason Jar collector since 1990. She was captivated by jar fever after finding her maiden name, McDonald, embossed on a jar. Dawson found out about the convention group via Facebook.
Foust credited a Facebook Ball Mason Jar popularity trend from 2018 for the influx of younger vendors.
Others, like Californian Gail Coppinger, have been jar-collecting for over 50 years.
“I look forward to it almost as much as Christmas,” she said.
Jar-collecting can be a meticulous hobby that not all may find interesting, but for those that do, the third week in January allows time for them to come together, share findings, celebrate treasures and unbottle friendships that are otherwise preserved throughout the remainder of the year.
Contact Katherine Hill with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .