Old canning jars can be valuable, especially certain Atlas Mason jars. One important factor in determining the value of Atlas Mason jars is the date. Older jars tend to be more valuable, but identifying an older jar can be tricky. Learn how to spot one at antique shops or in your own collection.
What Is an Atlas Mason Jar?
The glass company Hazel-Atlas, which is also known for making Depression glass, began production around 1902. The Atlas Mason jars were among some of their most important products. These old canning jars come in a variety of different styles and often feature the Atlas name somewhere on the glass. Newer jars were made by other companies after Hazel-Atlas stopped manufacturing them in the 1960s, but the oldest jars are among the most valuable.
How to Identify an Atlas Mason Jar
You'll see lots of canning jars at antique shops, flea markets, and yard sales, but Atlas Mason jars have distinctive glass markings that can help you identify them. Here's how to check.
- Look at the bottom of the jar. It should have a Hazel-Atlas glass mark that shows an A underneath a large capital H.
- Examine the writing on the jar itself. It may say "Atlas" or have the Hazel-Atlas glass mark on the side.
- Note the color. If it's clear or aqua, it is likely to be a genuine Atlas jar. If it's a different color like purple, it may be a fake. However, it may also be a very rare find.
Dating an Atlas Mason Jar
While many Atlas Mason jars have dates marked on them, it's better not to rely on these. The same molds were used for multiple years, and it's very common to find reproduction jars with older dates on them. However, there are a number of ways to tell how old your Atlas Mason jar might be.
Look for Mold Seams
Examine the jar to see if it has lines or mold seams from its construction. Most Atlas jars will have these seems. If the jar doesn't have seams, it may be a very old example. Jars made before 1915 were hand-finished and did not have visible seams.
Check the Texture of the Glass
Take a moment to lightly run your fingers over the surface of the jar. You may notice nicks and chips, but pay special attention to waves or ripples in the glass. If you find these, you may have a very old Atlas jar. Newer examples are more uniform in texture.
Note the Name
Does the jar say "Atlas"? Or does it say "Atlas Mason"? Older jars made by the Hazel-Atlas company will say "Atlas," while newer models made after the company was acquired may say "Atlas Mason."
Assessing Atlas Mason Jar Value
Most Atlas Mason jars sell for under $15, but there are a few examples that can be worth much more. Old jars are definitely worth more, but there are a few other factors to consider. As with any important antique, if you suspect you have a jar that's worth money, it's wise to have it professionally appraised.
Examine the Jar's Condition
Jars in excellent condition are worth the most, all other factors being equal. Check for cracks, chips, scratches and other signs of damage. Manufacturer defects like bubbles in the glass or a wavy texture won't detract from the value.
Check the Style
Atlas jars came in many different styles, but a few are especially valuable. Look for the following:
- Atlas E-Z Seal - This jar style is round, featuring a bail and integrated glass lid. It is stamped with the E-Z Seal name and comes in pint, half-pint, quart, and half-gallon sizes. The earliest E-Z Seal jars are from 1910 and are amber glass; they are among the most valuable.
- Atlas Trademark Mason - This Mason jar features the H-over-A Atlas trademark and comes in pint, half-pint, quart, and half-gallon sizes. Early examples can be very valuable.
- Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason - A "strong shoulder" is a ledge above the rounded "shoulder" of the jar but below the threads for screwing on the top. This shape can make an Atlas jar more valuable. You'll find these in many sizes.
Consider the Color
Color is another important factor. In general, exotic shades like amber, purple, and green will fetch more. However, you must be very cautious buying these, as they are the most likely to be faked.
Compare to Recent Sales Prices
You can get a sense of your jar's value by comparing it to others that have recently sold. Avoid comparing your jar to those currently listed for sale, since sellers can ask any price they like. The actual sales price is a far more accurate measure. Here are some example Atlas Mason jar values:
- An Atlas "Good Luck" Mason jar sold for about $15. It was clear, in good condition, and featured a four-leaf clover.
- A blue pint-sized Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason sold for just under $50. It was in very good condition and included the lid.
- An Atlas E-Z Seal jar in an unusual cornflower blue color sold for over $100. It included the glass lid and was in excellent condition.
Not the Only Canning Jar Company
While they produced many beautiful old jars, Hazel-Atlas wasn't the only canning jar company out there. There are many beautiful antique canning jars to collect, including Ball, Kerr, and others. Learn about the value of old canning jars to give yourself a working knowledge of what to look for when you visit antique stores, garage sales, and flea markets.