The question of how to differentiate the Merry Mushrooms cookie jar from the flour canister comes up often. Is the embossed ceramic cookie jar really the same as the flour embossed ceramic canister? The short answer is yes. However, like all investigations into a seemingly simple Merry Mushrooms question, this one led into so much more.
The confusion of the flour canister vs cookie jar is primarily the result of slight changes in the sizes over the years. According to the Sears catalogs, both the cookie jar and flour canister started at 10.75" tall and are identical in design. In the early 1980s, both shrank a full inch to 9.75". In the mid-1980s at the very end of the product run, the flour canister grew slightly to 10" while the cookie jar remained at 9.75". During these changes, the other three canisters (sugar, coffee, and tea) in the sets were sized accordingly, the tea canister ranging from 5.75" to 6.5" tall. Only once, the cookie jar is helpfully described as being 7.5" in diameter at the widest point, roughly 2" from the bottom.
Sounds straight forward enough, right? To back up the information supplied by the catalogs and breeze through this blog, I took a close look what I understood to be two cookie jars (one lidless, oops) and the flour canister in my collection.
As we embark on this journey, let's acknowledge some truths.
1. It's difficult to measure round objects with varying widths from base to the mushroom knob, especially when the heights might vary by only half or even a quarter inch.
2. Canisters bought as a set may not be original to each other.
3. Lids may not be original to the bottoms.
4. Production specifications often allow for variations in size and weight to avoid excessive amounts of waste.
5. Measurements from the catalogs are sometimes difficult to read. This may, in part, account for discrepancies.
Armed with a wooden yard stick, another study stick, masking tape, and a level, I began. Imagine my surprise, annoyance, and dismay when the two marked 1978 in the same print with the MA (or MR) mark on the bottom were two different heights. Maybe this won't be so easy.
Hang on, I told myself, maybe it was just the design copyright from 1978 but one was manufactured in a different year. That must be it. The shorter 1978 piece does measure 10", matching the height of the mid-1980s, and it's 7" at the widest point of the base. So this must be the flour canister from a later set. There are some canisters out there with 1983 marks, but that's for another day.
Turning the two lids over, the one marked 1976 has no opening and the 10" one marked 1978 determined to be from the mid-1980s has an opening. Looking at the mushroom knob, the difference in construction is apparent, at least on these two lids. The mushroom knob on the left is attached with clay slip and doesn't look fully attached (no opening) when compared to the knob on the right (has opening). For more on this topic, see A Closer Look: Lids with Mushroom Knobs.
This lead me to look at the three smaller canisters from my set marked 1976. Noting the color difference, they did not have the opening like the large lid. So, the 10.75" high, 7.125" wide piece is most likely not a cookie jar, but it's certain that it is not original to the rest of the canisters.
The difference in colored glaze, the lid, and the fact the are all marked on the bottom in the same style and year is baffling. I'm now working on a survey of ceramic lids with mushroom knob (canisters, cookie jar, beverage server, sugar, and butter dish) to learn more. Stay tuned.
Back to the lids at hand. To add to the party, while the inner lip of the lids are *almost* identical in circumference, they are not in terms of the width of the lip, the outer circumference, and the overall thickness. The width of the lip that sits inside the base on the marked 1978 10" flour canister is about half that of the undetermined 10.75" marked 1976. It also has a lower profile and is smaller in circumference.
Returning to the lidless one marked 1978. From comparing the bases, it would probably be 10.75" tall with the lid. It *IS* 7.5" at the widest point. Ding ding! I believe we have a cookie jar!
So what does this all mean? At the end of the day, you could end up with a set of 12 differently sized canisters/cookie jars ranging from 10.75" to 5.75". Here is a breakdown of the mathematically estimated heights of the sugar and coffee canisters.
The other three canisters in my marked 1976 set should be 9.25" sugar, 8" coffee, and 6.25" tea. Instead, they measure 8.75" sugar, 7.25" coffee, and 6.25" tea, so close and oddly the sugar and coffee match the 1985-1987 heights spot on. Sigh.
Allow me to draw your attention to the five truths covered at the beginning of this blog.
More more on this topic, please see UPDATE on the Canister and Cookie Jar Conundrum.
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