The Vintage Spice Jars


Having discovered, among other things, this stash of 10 vintage spice jars in Box #1, I had to do some research and see what I could find out about the jars. They resemble another old spice jar that I have and for awhile I was confused, thinking it must be all the same set.

I pictured that spice jar in this post over two years ago.

I still keep whole nutmeg in it.

All of the jars are apothecary-style vintage glass spice jars. However, it eventually sunk in that it made no sense that the “nutmeg” jar was part of the same set. I haven’t opened this box since I moved, twice. Everything in the box other than the plastic plants came from my grandmother via my mother. Perhaps when I moved from Texas to North Carolina (when my mother gave me all the things that she gave me, because I was moving away), I stuck that plastic plant in there just because there was room for it. I don’t know. I just know I haven’t opened this box in years. And further examination and research showed the jars are actually different. The “nutmeg” jar is a vintage 1950s John Wagner & Sons spice jar.

You can see an amazing collection of 100 Wagner spice jars in a photo here.

Wagner jars have “Wagner” embossed on the bottom of the jar. The “nutmeg” jar has it.

The other jars have no “Wagner” on the bottom. The bottom of the other jars says Made in Taiwan.

I was unable to find anything more about these jars as there is no company name embossed on them, but I believe they are a Wagner knock-off. A vintage knock-off, which is still interesting. They were for the the farm wife who coveted those nice Wagner spice jars but needed to spend a little bit less. The similarity of the font you can see on the few jars with remaining labels suggests an imitation of Wagner’s label style.

There are small bubbles in the glass of a few of the jars, but everything else about them suggests they were contemporaries of the Wagner jars, not older than them.

I’m going to leave the few existing labels intact, of course, but I’m going to clean them up, put new labels on the rest of them, and put them to use.

And at this rate, I’m going to finish the downstairs project in 2,506,319 years!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on March 5, 2011  

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23 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 3-5

    I’m familiar with the feeling. I too am wrapped up in a renovation project that will in all likelihood take more than a few years, but I look forward to every stage of it and am having a blast blogging about it as I go. I wonder which of us will finish first? :hole: :whip:

  2. 3-5

    I know that feeling as well. We are always working on a project around here. And seems as if box’s appear with some odd looking stuff in them as well.

    The jars I would wager a guess are not that old and I agree they are probably a knock off. I rembmer my mom having a set of spice jars like that once when I was a teen. They will look neat with your spices in them. Or put small flower arrangements in them. Lots of possibilites for neat little jars like that.

  3. 3-5

    Good morning! Looks like the spice jars you just found have plastic to make the lids fit snugly…good indication that they aren’t old. I’m thinking 1960’s-70’s.
    I was just watching a commercial on TV last night about little pre-measured spices you buy for specific recipes…from McCormack, I think. Spice containers have come a long way…housewives used to keep them under lock and key a couple of centuries ago. Then they were stored in drawers in a small wooden cabinet that hung on the wall. The late 1800’s brought about the round tin boxes with individual tin containers inside them.There also china canister sets which would have spice jars in the pattern of the set. Those are my favorites because I love the beautiful patterns, espcially the sets from Germany.
    I’m sorry….I’m rambling on about spice jars. It’s the antique dealer in me!!!
    Show us a picture when you get all the jars cleaned, re-labels and filled!!

  4. 3-5

    I have actually completed a project room yesterday! True, as a result, my kitchen looks like I have never cleaned it in my life and my bedroom looks like storage. But, I call that progress.

    So good luck!

  5. 3-5

    I too just found a box of those jars in the basement from BO’s mother. I remember them from when I was young. My mother had some and so did I. BTW, I just bought one of those old spice racks and use it. This one has the spices listed on the outside and inside gives the ways to use them. It is about 24″ x 24″ with 3 shelves and not covered with grease in mint condition. What a find.
    I am also going through things to renovate and there is one room in the basement of God knows what from BO’s fathers dumpster diving days. Thank God he cleaned it up before he left it there.

  6. 3-5

    Vintage. Huh, guess that makes me vintage too. I got a set of those when I got married. lol
    I think those old spice jars are in the shed…the place where no one goes…except to store mysterious boxes of junk.

  7. 3-5

    Oh, I can see a multitude of offshoot tangents in your future… :)

  8. 3-5

    The spice jars look similar to a set I got when I got married in 1976. Unfortunately , I got about 3 sets of spice jars for shower gifts and I let these go to a garage sale.

  9. 3-5

    I am so glad that you are going to put these beautiful spice jars to use. Even if they are not all from the same maker they are still very pretty. I think we all have some cleaning and purging projects at some point in time. You will feel better and better with each box that disappears. Good luck and let us know what other treasures you come across. :D

  10. 3-5

    Beautiful jars, even if they are knockoffs…

  11. 3-5

    Suzanne, you have inspired me. I cleaned out my rag bin today, which had enough rags to last me a trillion years (maybe even more). I just hate throwing things in the garbage, and it’s not as if you can donate rags (they’re not even the nice kind you might use in a quilt…if you knew how to quilt, which I don’t). What do you do with old rags? Anyway, one task done. :snoopy:

  12. 3-5

    Love the Glass Jars, too small for Bath salts but they would look nice on a bathroom shelf with colored bath salts,
    I love finding treasures….

  13. 3-5

    You can use itty bitty ball bearings (1/8″) in the jars to clean them. Fill with soapy water and shake.

  14. 3-5

    I love the feeling of the disappearing boxes of whatnot that I have accumulated. I did this to my garage a few months back and it felt so good! Now I am working on my craft room…YAY!
    I have some jars like those somewhere, I will have to see what box they are in and in what room…I know they are here some where! LOL!

  15. 3-5

    I got a set of those spice jars just like and still have a few as a wedding gift. march of 1980

  16. 3-5

    Thank you, Miss Judy. I also got a set of those as a wedding present (from my older sister, who also had a set), and all of these “my grandmother had those” comments were beginning to make me feel old! Or should I say “vintage”? ;)

    I was so pleased to get them, complete with rack. It seemed like the height of sophistication to have all your spice jars match, and to have jars instead of tins.

  17. 3-5

    I remember my mom having spice jars like that, but not with those labels. I don’t remember what the labels looked like, unfortunately, I just know that they didn’t look like the ones you have. The jars are neat for holding all sorts of things though, and I seem them from time to time in thrift stores. They are kind of the catch all jars of the kitchen like baby food jars hold screws and such in the garage.

  18. 3-6

    I love these jars! Someday I hope to find an old apothecary cabinet with jars like that.

  19. 3-6

    I don’t thinks the jars with “Made in Taiwan” are very old either.
    Until the 1960’s or early 70’s, Taiwan was known as Formosa.

  20. 3-6

    I just checked my spice jars and on the bottom of the bottles It says made in Japan. I still use them My DH gave me the bottles many years ago.

  21. 3-7

    Those are lovely. My MIL gave me some antique painted tin spice jars – a set of 7! that she said was a gift from the first boy she dated on her first date, instead of flowers. Oh, the stories these objects can tell about us. :)

    In other news, I’ve got a little surprise for you over here! :D

  22. 3-7

    1974 – 1977 is my guess. My Mom had the same set and got them after her kitchen remodel. Enjoy them!

  23. 3-7

    I remember those!

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