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Can you solve this mystery?

Posted Sunday, March 1, 2009, at 10:27 PM

A friend of Paul Corbin's brought him these two canning jars this week, and we're trying to figure out why on earth a jar would have a lid on both ends! Anybody have an answer??
Ninety-four-year old Advance historian and archeologist Paul Corbin has sent me a bit of a mystery to solve tonight. It seems that his friend Leon Wilton came to his house this weekend with a couple of fruit jars. Nothing unusual about that, but when Mr. Corbin saw the jars, he was perplexed. Both ends had screw-on lids! The green jar, he explains, has a built-in glass funnel.

I've done a fair amount of canning in my day, but I've never seen anything like this. I have no idea if any of our fellow bloggers are old enough to help us solve this mystery.

What do you think, folks? Has anyone ever seen such a thing?? The answer will probably be so simple that we'll feel pretty stupid -- but it isn't often that Paul Corbin is mystified by a product from the past. He sold Watkins' products all over the countryside back in the 1930's, and I thought he'd seen everything!

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Here is yet another use for a double ended jar very similar to the Mystery Jars...for those of your familiar with eBay, do a search on Item # 120389219762. I'd be happy to send digital photo copies of the current eBay sale jar if anyone is interested...just send me your email address at; info@javaholics.net

-- Posted by Coffeenuts on Sat, Mar 14, 2009, at 12:03 PM

ALL, I shall inform my amigo, Bgrapentine, as to the ultimate conclusion and visual proof as to the veracity of our findings...he's an old bottle whiz, but, obviously he has not come across this item, even in his vast repertoire of collecting!!

molater, kkr

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Sat, Mar 14, 2009, at 2:48 AM

I started collecting jars 40 years ago and have searched the "Red Book of Fruit Jars" and have never seen or found anything that looks like your picture of open ended jars. I truly believe the coffee grinder canister to be the correct category for these items

-- Posted by Okie on Wed, Mar 11, 2009, at 10:15 PM

Ooooooohhhh! kingdingo, you may not comment much, but when you DO, it's GREAT!!! I love sarcasm!!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Mar 11, 2009, at 10:29 AM

Actually, I believe the jar is one that was used in a recent appearance by Rush Limbaugh in Cape Girardeau. If I am not mistaken, it was designed to actually show that crap can flow out of both ends of something. I love science!!

-- Posted by bwkingdingo on Tue, Mar 10, 2009, at 6:40 PM

Thanks for referencing our website (www.javaholics.net) regarding examples of other double ended glass jars. Although the design of your mystery jars are very similar to those used for Coffee Mills, they were not used for this purpose. They were instead used for an insecticide applicator, usually in the powder form. One end of the jar was attached to a bellows usually made of wood and cloth or leather while the other end had a cone shaped funnel. The jar opening's are the same size of ordinary canning jars, this is why you often see these jars with canning type lids screwed to them. Coffee Mill jars are typically larger on one end to help facilitate adding whole coffee beans while the other smaller end was inserted into the cast iron grinding mechanism. I've tried searching Google Patents (www.google.com/patents) for documented evidence supporting my claim however I have not been successful.

-- Posted by Coffeenuts on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 10:07 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Coffeenuts, thank you so much for posting on our blog! I've just called Paul Corbin to tell him about your theory. When I talked to him earlier in the evening, he had seen kkcaver's final answer to the puzzle, but he hadn't seen your reply. He admits to being a bit skeptical about the insecticide applicator theory...

In fact, after kk's posting, something clicked in Mr. Corbin's head, and he went down to that museum of antiques which he calls a "basement" and found an old coffee mill, which he's going to clean up. He says the top jar is in good condition, but the bottom jar is missing.

We'll collaborate on a follow-up blog, compiling all our current information!

I cannot BELIEVE how many photos you have on your javaholics site!! I never knew such a multitude of coffee coffee mills existed!

Here's a link to a site with photos of wall mounted coffee mills. The clear jar looks like it may have been used for that, but what about the green jar with the internal funnel shape? http://www.javaholics.net/html/wall_mill...

-- Posted by backseat driver on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 1:02 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Thank you for this link, Backseat! The site is truly AMAZING!! I had no idea! Paul Corbin took a look at it yesterday and was equally impressed! Now, as you can see, we have a comment from the source!

MD, Mr Paul, and ALL,

Friends out west have come through with the facts as they know them to exist for these jars.

They are dispenser jars that attach to a wall mounted dispenser, or also could be to a wall mounted coffee grinder. The bottom of the jar screws into the top of the grinder. Coffee beans are poured into the top. Sort of nifty, huh? There are several known grinder jars, the Universal and Arcade to name a couple. Hope this helps. (From doug.leybourne@comcast.net), Best to all in the Bootheel, for now, molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 10:26 AM

Mr. Paul, we're still "ruminating", although moving this weekend has taken some of the starch out of my BeeCee's!!!Point well taken about this summer, a saying out in Sun City West is that the man who buys green bananas is an Optimist!! We'll keep stirring the pot on these jars, there's got to be answers somewhere, and I haven't heard anymore from AZ on the matter.Regards to all, molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Sat, Mar 7, 2009, at 1:19 PM

Is it possible that some clever person made the jars as a prank to send the mind of a person spinning as he or she tries to figure out what the jars were made to do? Could be that somebody is having a hearty laugh!!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Fri, Mar 6, 2009, at 7:38 PM

Mr. Ruminating KK. - - - -I am sure we can find something to CHWE on if you decie to make the trip to this neck of the woods in June. However I hope you will understand when I hesitate to make any definate commitment that far in advance. At age 94 I won't even buy bananas unless they are completely ripe.

-- Posted by paulcorbin on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 7:38 PM

It occurred to me that possibly the wrong people are being sought to solve Paul Corbin's various mysterious objects. Perhaps someone should be contacted who catalogues items believed to have been left on Earth by extraterrestrial visitors.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 6:54 PM

A "young" lady who has been collecting antiques for over "half a century," eh? Paul Corbin, you are such a GENTLEMAN!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 6:43 PM

I found one idea while 'googling' this problem and it was mentioned a funnel could be in either end of the jars sometimes during canning to reduce the empty space of the contents.

-- Posted by changedname on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 5:15 PM

I AGREE WITH G N on, the cranberry sauce idea, as the jars are larger than the mouth of the jar, and they were not used as a minnow trap, as the clear jar does not have a funnel in either end of the jar.

I can't see how the funnel in one end of the green jar served any purpose as it is inside the jar, which does not make the mouth of the jar any larger, and the opening of the lower end of the funnel is only slightly smaller than the mouth of the jar. There are no molding seams in either of these jars.

One young lady in Perryville Mo. has been collecting antiques for over a half century, and she says that she has never seen anything like these jars. She is searching some of her sources, and hopes to come up with the answer.

-- Posted by paulcorbin on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 5:04 PM

I think the idea for minnows being kept in the jars makes sense. I don't think cranberry sauce would come out in a "loaf", since the opening is smaller than the jar. Now, don't say I don't understand practical math!

Speaking of minnows---let's go fishing!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 3:12 PM

Wow, backseat! If that isn't the answer, it's a pretty good use for the jar, I'd say! I like ct's cranberry sauce idea, too.

FJ - always thinking creatively, guy!

I know Mr. Corbin has read this blog, so, eventually, we'll see what he thinks, I'm sure.

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 8:18 AM

It's possible it could be a minnow trap. The jar is placed on its side and the cap removed from the end with the funnel. The minnows swim in and can't swim out. Place the lid on over the funnel end and you could then transport them without spills. Take the lid off the other end to retrieve the minnow for fishing.

-- Posted by backseat driver on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 4:14 PM

On the heels of the stone gussets, it is apparent that Paul could revitalize Advance's economy by opening a "House of Mystery." He could fill it with the strange and weird stuff he would have people send him from all over the world.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 2:42 PM

Bryan G. e-mailed that his best guess for the jar with the funnel end was an insect trap for the cellar, bait the bottom and let the little bugs do what comes naturally....his only theory though...I sent the link out to a couple of other knowledgable types so we'll see what they come up with.....molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 1:50 PM

The first thing that came to my mind was that whatever the contents are in the jars, if both ends are removable, then the contents will come out in one piece. Ok, sort of like cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. If you take off both ends of the can, then the sauce comes out neatly instead of digging it out in chunks. This probably isn't the right answer but I thought I'd send it along anyway. I'll look forward to reading the answer!

-- Posted by ct on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 11:54 AM

Durn, if I don't get deeper,... just sent the link to yet another bottle/jar dude,(Maestro???) SOMEWHERE????, we'll see what pops up!!!....molater....kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 7:54 PM

MD, if you get the chance, pass on to Mr. Paul, that we are working on some of his mysteries, and be pleased, so to maintain his stature, as one of our storied, Stoddard County historians, and with our utmost regard...also... he might want to look at the blog on the two soapstone slabs from the old RR dump..I had an "idee"..while I work on the weird "canning"(NOT) jars, they had other uses, of this I am sure....preserve us all, with the wisdom, and FONT of knowledge, which resides with Mr. Corbin, I should like to come down this summer and sit on the porch with him, and hopefully that just might be possible, my Hart family reunion is in June, but for now I'll just sit up here in Kansas and ruminate....molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 7:28 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Kk, I'll let Mr. C know about your recent posting on his soapstone slab blog. I'm sure he hasn't checked it in a while, and I'm also sure he would be most happy to sit and talk with you, if you make it to Advance this summer. I think he must be making a trip to the post office right now. If I don't rouse him soon, I'll be knocking at his door, for sure!!

E-Mail to ABA has been done....we shall see....kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 7:14 PM

ALL, BG doesn't have a clue, HOWEVER, We have a source, Jeff Wishman, at American Bottle Auction.com, who might shed some light on these items....I shall inquire....molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 7:02 PM

I'm thinking something along the lines of solids and liquids separating..... one or the other has to be extracted from the bottom after separation?

-- Posted by greer958 on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 2:57 PM

I e-mailed the link out to Phoenix, and will let all know if Bryan has a clue...after he gets in from the golf course.....molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 10:29 AM

I'm thinking that since sorghum molasses was made in that area, perhaps sorghum, or even honey, might be preserved in a jar that could be opened from the bottom--where the viscous substance rests. I'll ask around though.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 7:49 AM

I may have to e-mail a copy of this out to my bottle collecting buds in Phoenix, something tells me if BG can't give us an answer then some of our local collectors might....I've got guesses, but, they are out there....#1 are the lids the old zinc/tin/steel types, looks like it, #2, Do the jars have molding seams?? #3 Do the jars exhibit any bubbles internal to the glass??, #4 What is the configuration of the threads on the top(s) of the jars, squared off, rounded crowns, or sharper shaped??.....We need guidance!!!...molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 7:41 AM

Don't shoot me, I suppose these jars were designed for either left or right handed persons. That's the best I could do this early in the morning.

-- Posted by changedname on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 6:46 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Ah, Dexterite, you're always the first one to respond to a new blog, I think! Haha! Great start for the conversation!!

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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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