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John L. Mason

AKA John Landis Mason

Born: 1832
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Died: 26-Feb-1902
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Abdominal Hemorrhage

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Inventor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Invented the screw-neck jar

In 1858, American tinsmith John L. Mason invented a square-shouldered jar with threaded screw-top, matching lid, and rubber ring for an airtight seal -- the Mason jar. Until the 1830s, long before refrigeration and hothouse gardens, many fruits and vegetables had been available only seasonally, but the recent development of jars had made canning a practical alternative to drying, pickling, or smoking to preserve food. Prior to Mason's innovation, jars had a flat, un-threaded top, across which a tin flat lid was laid and sealed with wax. It was messy, unreliable, and unsafe -- if the wax was not applied properly it allowed deadly bacteria to thrive in the jar. Mason's easy and re-usable jars made home canning popular among American settlers, homesteaders, and even in urban homes, but most Mason jars were manufactured by competitors after his patent expired in 1879. His invention never made Mason rich -- he was later accused (but not convicted) of having his home burned to obtain an insurance windfall, and he worked for many years as an accountant at Colonial Bond and Guaranty Company.

Wife: (married, six daughters)

    National Inventors Hall of Fame 2006



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