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Monday, April 15, 2024

Having a Ball

What started as a small manufacturing business turned into an iconic American image — the Ball mason jar. The Ball brothers — Edmund, Frank, George, Lucius, and William — founded the company in Buffalo, New York, in 1880 with a $200 loan from their uncle. The brothers initially began constructing tin cans encased in wooden jackets to store kerosene, varnish, or paint. However, the kerosene quickly eroded the tin, which led to a decision to produce glass jars instead.

As an early salesman for the company, Frank was responsible for moving the family (and later the company’s headquarters) from Buffalo to Muncie, Indiana, which was rich with natural gas reserves essential to glass making. Ball patented the world’s first semi-automatic glass machine and was producing more than 60 million canning jars a year by 1905.

Today, Ball no longer manufactures canning jars and the factory in Muncie is expected to close this year. Although the headquarters is shutting its doors, the heritage will live on.

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