For centuries, rural farmers and the poor struggled to find ways to preserve food for the winter.
Soldiers, too, were often left on the battlefields without proper nourishment due to the lack of food-storage solutions.
Colored examples of any jar early or late will bring a handsome price at auction. Until the invention of a screw-top with a rubber seal, the most common means of sealing jars was with wax. Colored pontil examples, while rare, are known in a variety of colors with cobalt blue being the top of the line.
Indeed, in 1809, Napoleon offered 10,000 francs to anyone that could devise a way to ensure that his soldiers scattered across Europe were supplied with fresh food.
Nicholas Appert was up to Napoleon’s challenge—though his invention was a far cry from the Mason fruit jar that came later.
Appert devised a means to hermetically seal jars, which are just bottles with wider mouths. Interestingly, the heat killed the bacteria in the food product, but at the time people did not know that bacteria was the cause of spoilage.
While Appert’s invention marked progress, it did not help home canners—the process was extremely expensive and difficult.
That’s when Arthur introduced a wax seal on a metal jar.