DUPRS_0002 Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Small)

Dublin Core


DUPRS_0002 Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Small)


Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Small)


- 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm (chipped)
- Fragmentary, only the base (including maker’s mark) remains. Maker's mark on base reads ARMOUR & CO PACKERS CHICAGO.
Also see DUPRS_0001


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, Drew University Passaic River Survey


19th-20th Century


Amy Zavecz


The materials in this collection are made available for use for educational purposes only for research, teaching and private study. Texts and images from this collection may not be used for any commercial purpose without prior permission from the Department of Anthropology, Drew University.




Also see DUPRS_0001

Fragments of Armour & Co. jars were common at the Stanley Park site.
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).
The company quickly became the leading distributor of meatpacking in the nation, eventually even exporting to Europe. Ceramic containers were commonly used to pack meat in the late 1800s. Potted foods were used to thicken soups and useful for travellers. The potted meats became very popular and widely distributed particularly in the days before food preservatives.
The jars may have contained meats or any of the many other products that Armour & Co produced. 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).
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 (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). From what information I could find, 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.
The company was, however, part of the changes in the early 20th century due to the exposure of working and sanitary conditions at stock yards and packing plants. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published in 1906, exposing the poor working conditions at Armour’s stock yards and packing plant in Chicago, along with the unsanitary things that went into meat products, including rat dropping and waste materials. In order to combat the horrific image of not caring about their products or workers, Armour’s ad campaign for its meat extracts declared that they “had the flavor of fresh meat” to try and convince their customers that their products were safe and clean and only contained “the best beef.”
A French advertisement and cookbooks indicating how the product can be used to produce different dishes for the family indicate both the broad distribution of the products as well as their strategies for increasing their use.

Work Cited

Star, Armour

About Us. armour-star.com.

Weekly, Collectors

Antique Milk Glass. collectorsweekly.com.

Wilson, Mark

2005 Armour & Co. Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago.




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_0002 Armour & Co. Packing Jar (Small),” Drew University Library Special Collections, accessed December 1, 2023, http://omeka.drew.edu/items/show/657.