DUPRS_0001 Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Large)

Dublin Core


DUPRS_0001 Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Large)


Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Large)


Basal fragment of a milk glass jar. Maker's mark on base reads ARMOUR & CO PACKERS CHICAGO. Dimensions of fragment - 6 cm x 5 cm (broken) Color and Form: White milk glass with a slight lip at the top


These jars are Armour & Co Packing jars from Chicago. Most likely manufactured between late 1800s (after 1867) and early 1900s (most likely before 1920), based on the dates it was manufactured at its peak popularity (Collectors Weekly).


Selective Surface collection, east Stanley Park, Historic Chatham Township (modern Summit, New Jersey)


Drew University, Department of Anthropology


late 19th- early 20th Century


Amy Zavecz




Cultural and Historical Significance: It has not been determined what this particular jar contained, but they may have contained meats or any of the many other products that Armour & Co produced.

These jars were produced by the meat packing company Armour & Co which was founded in 1867 by Phillip Armour (Wilson 2005). The company was one of the biggest in Chicago for decades, even after the death of Phillip Armour in 1901. Armour & Co slaughtered animals in Chicago, packing not only meats, but a variety of other animal byproducts such as glue, soaps, gelatin, and others (Wilson 2005). They aimed to waste none of the animal, having the catchphrase “everything but the squeal” (Wilson 2005).

In its history of more than a century, Armour & Co was one of Chicago’s largest employers and one of the biggest businesses in the United States (Wilson 2005). When the Great Depression came to America, Armour & Co continued to employ thousands of workers in Chicago and the surrounding areas (Wilson 2005). In 1948, the company had been making soaps for many years, and they developed Dial brand soap (armour-star.com). Armour & Co lives on today, although it was bought by the Greyhound Company in 1970 (Wilson 2005), as Armour Star. Today, they mostly sell canned meats and “easy-to-make solutions for all of your meal and snacking occasions” (armour-star.com).

According to an October 20, 1901 story in the Buffalo (N.Y.) Times:
It is a saying in Chicago that the house of Armour & Co., in the slaughter of hogs, “loses nothing but the squeal of the hogs” when they are led to the slaughter. Employing many thousands of men in the varied industries growing out of their vast slaughtering business, the firm has found it immensely profitable to utilize all portions of the raw material by the firm.

The jars are made out of a material called milk glass. Milk glass has been in use since the 16th century, but was only given its name in the 20th century (Collectors Weekly). It originated in France and became popular in the United States in the late 1880s, becoming a symbol for American domestic life (Collectors Weekly). Beginning in the Great Depression, though, it began to fall out of style (Collectors Weekly). It doesn’t seem that milk glass was a common packing material during its long history. Rather, it was often used for vases and dinnerware. Because of the time period when milk glass was being manufactured, the jars could have been made anywhere between 1867 and the 1960s. It seems more likely, though, that they were produced somewhere between the 1880s and the 1920s, as these were the years of its peak popularity.

These jars are representative of a company with a long and distinguished history. It has lasted for well over a hundred years in one form or another, which is impressive. The jars come from a time when having plates and containers made of milk glass meant that you were somehow living the domestic dream. Jars like these hold a lot of meaning, not only for Chicago, where they were made, but for the entire country. Because this milk glass was used to contain meat or some other animal byproduct, it is difficult to ascertain the socioeconomic class that would have been in possession of these jars. Milk glass as a material would have been found in many houses in the late 19th to early 20th century, ranging from upper to middle-class. It is possible that even lower class households would have had at least one milk glass product during the height of its popularity.


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These jars are Armour & Co Packing jars from Chicago. Most likely manufactured between late 1800s (after 1867) and early 1900s (most likely before 1920), based on the dates it was manufactured at its peak popularity (Collectors Weekly). , “DUPRS_0001 Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Large),” Drew University Library Special Collections, accessed June 16, 2024, http://omeka.drew.edu/items/show/656.