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Decorating
Cool & Collected: Keiller Dundee’s Marmalade Jars
Learn all the in's and out's of collecting these turn-of-the century marmalade jars and their humble origins.
Keiller Dundee jars appeal to anyone looking to add historic elegance with a collection. Adorably classic and full of history, these ceramic jam jars are an ideal piece for any vintage lover. But before you place your bid on one, make sure you know the hallmarks of a genuine Keiller Dundee jar. HUMBLE HISTORY Beginning... Keep Scrolling
Written by CAITLIN RAGAN
Photography by JICKIE TORRES


Keiller Dundee jars appeal to anyone looking to add historic elegance with a collection. Adorably classic and full of history, these ceramic jam jars are an ideal piece for any vintage lover. But before you place your bid on one, make sure you know the hallmarks of a genuine Keiller Dundee jar.

Keiller Dundee marmalade jar filled with silverware on a dining table next to white plates and a white vase of flowers.
Keiller Dundee marmalade has long had worldwide appeal. By 1917, Keiller was exporting millions of jars of marmalade and jam every month to British troops in France fighting in World War I.

HUMBLE HISTORY

Beginning in the kitchen of Janet Keiller in the 18th century, the first batch of modern marmalade was born. Thanks to bitter oranges and a shipping mishap. Her husband brought home a crate of Seville oranges from an off-course ship, but the oranges were long overripe and sour. Boiling the unsweet citrus in sugar while keeping in shredded rinds of the orange itself, Janet reinvented marmalade, once called marmalato. Soon, she decided to launch the tangy, sweet spread in signature Keiller Dundee ceramic jars. She then sold to local markets with the help of her son, James Keiller, and the rest is history.

Keiller Dundee marmalade jars arranged on a shelving space alongside books and antique vases.
These jars can add character to any shelf you’re styling.

JAM JAR HUNTING

Part of the charm of this collectible is how pervasive it is. Keiller & Sons was one of the first commercialized goods in Great Britain. It was so widely available that even though the product wasn’t distributed in the United States until 1880, antique jars have been found in American cities that predate that. Originally established in 1797, the company used stoneware jars exclusively until 1928, when they switched to glass jars with a metal lid. Jars dating from before 1862 are considered very rare, while jars from 1873 to 1898 are common, and there can be up to an $80 price difference. Each jar is dated, and according to the antique pottery magazine Maling Collectors’ Society, a Keiller jar’s price is determined by “the lettering on the pots … almost invariably placed under the bow at the bottom of the wreath.”

COLLECTING KEILLER DUNDEE

These classic ceramic jars come in different sizes; the average jar held about 1 pound of jam, while a larger variety contained up to 2 pounds. Keiller Dundee also sold miniature sizes, though their availability is scarce. The jars are very sturdy; some have been found in riverbeds and abandoned lots still intact. Thanks to the simple design of the jar, the look never goes out of style, and it’s easy to incorporate into your existing decor. Be sure to always verify authenticity from any antiques seller, and keep your eyes peeled for your own iconic Keiller Dundee marmalade jar.

Want more simply beautiful ideas? Check out this post on Collectibles Spotlight: Milk Glass.

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