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Book Review

THE STANDARD FRUIT JAR REFERENCE 2011

Reviewed By: Tom Caniff

In 1983, fruit jar columnist and researcher Dick Roller finally was able to offer his 394-page STANDARD FRUIT JAR REFERENCE to the collectors who had waited patiently for its publication. The S.F.J.R. was the largest, most-up-to-date fruit jar information source available, and its abundance of jar information had been painstakingly accumulated through years of research. It was the Holy Grail to information-hungry fruit jar collectors.

A couple years before his death in 1998, Dick Roller arranged with Jerry McCann, of Chicago, for an update of the STANDARD FRUIT JAR REFERENCE, setting guidelines as to what could be added or reformatted.

Jerry, with the help of glass researcher and writer Barry Bernas, of Gettysburg, Pa., spent immeasurable hours compiling jar data new since the 1983 publishing, finding some replacement photos, and generally rearranging the S.F.J.R. into a tome of 854 attractive, easy-to-read pages, over twice as long as the original, a veritable encyclopedia of fruit jars and their history.

Aside from chapters on Canning History, Patents & Trademarks, Fruit Jar Pioneers, Company Histories, a Comprehensive Fruit Jar History, and a comprehensive jar listing, as included in the original, volume new Appendices have been added on Atlas Mini-Banks, Go-Withs, Oversize Jars, Solid Pour Jars, Fruit Tin Cans, Cohansey Packer and or Proprietor Jars, and much more. There are also many more photos and graphics than in the original S.F.J.R.

The well-bound, hard-cover STANDARD FRUIT JAR REFERENCE 2011 is considerably more expensive than the original, at $275, but this doesn’t seen unreasonable, considering the volume of photos, graphic, and text. In proportion, the price of the new fruit jar bible has probably risen less than the price of gasoline. In November 2006, five bidders on eBay, kicked a 1983 copy of the S.F.J.R. up to an impressive $575 winning bid, showing the value that some collectors placed even on the then 23-year-old S.F.J.R.

There are admittedly some typographical and other errors that the gremlins managed to squeeze into the book, but with a work of this size this is almost inevitable, especially considering that only two people, however dedicated, did almost all of the work. Updates done on computer copies are a relative breeze any more, but the original S.F.J.R. wasn’t compiled on a computer, and transcribing the original to computer, just to begin the update, was a Herculean task in itself.

Whether your budget restricts you to jars in the five-to-ten-dollar range or you are able to pursue the more expensive rarities, if you seriously enjoy fruit jar collecting, this book is a must. Maybe it could be your Christmas present to yourself; aren’t you worth it? Knowledge is power, whether in making an informed decision on buying a coveted jar, figuring out if your newly found jar variation is known and recorded, or just in discussing jars –– from Ball Perfect Masons to cobalt-blue 1858s –– with other collectors.

I think collectors owe a debt of gratitude to Dick Roller, Jerry McCann, and Barry Bernas for making this stupendous fruit jar work available to collectors.

Published by the Fruit Jar Annual/Phoenix Press, the STANDARD FRUIT JAR REFERENCE 2011 may be ordered from Jerry McCann, 5003 West Berwyn Ave., Chicago, IL 60630. Email: fjar@aol.com. Phone: 1-773-777-0443. Regular price is $275, plus shipping.

––Tom Caniff

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