Griffith Laboratories Spice Jars Q & A

Griffith Laboratories Spice Jars Q & A

Posted By: Elaine Times Read: 372


Griffith Laboratories Spice Jars – Q & A steelergal62 14K Views 47 Likes / Last Updated January 20, 2018

Following are a few of the excellent questions about the Griffith Laboratories Spice Jars sent to me by other collectors or would-be collectors along with my responses.

1) QUESTION: "We have several sets in different sizes and patterns and were wondering if you had found out when the specific patterns were produced."

ANSWER: Not as yet. That is one of the questions that I am waiting to hear back from the Griffiths folks. UPDATE: 7/10/16 I approached the Griffith Labs PR department again and here is a copy of their reply: "I am sorry, but we are not able to provide any further information on these items. These were promotional items that were manufactured for us by another company. We have no records of the actual designs by year, and anyone involved in the project is long retired. I am sorry we can’t help you with your request. Best regards, Vice President, Global Marketing and Innovation Griffith Foods Worldwide Inc. One Griffith Center, Alsip, IL 60803 USA"


2) QUESTION: "Are the paper labels the oldest?"

ANSWER: As far as I know, yes. The quality of the paper is very close to handmade. Not sure yet if the black labels were painted or fired in a kiln. But, because the paint cannot be removed, I suspect they were fired in a kiln.


3) QUESTION: "Which seem to be the most common (labels) and which the rarest?"

ANSWER: The most common are the yellow paper half moon with the four raised column design on three sides. Second most common intact sets are those with the black half moon labels and four raised column design on three sides. Third most common intact sets are the black labels with the flourishes and the four column design on the right and left sides only. Most rare are the yellow painted on labels on jars with the four column design on three sides and a long thin description label between the columns on the left side. Most common jar colors: white. Most common lid color: red, followed by yellow. Least common jar and lid color: chocolate brown in either size. All of the tall (4-1/4") and short (3-1/2") jars have the same size labels and labels have the same layout on the back .


4) QUESTION: "any further info would be great."

ANSWER: The jars have not been made for over 60 years and the company is working with me to find as much info as they can for collectors. As soon as I get it, I will gladly post it to the guide.


5) QUESTION: "Thank you for your guide. I found it informative and fun. Have you found any information about the lids? I found an old set under an old house and need some new lids. Thanks for any help. All the best, P."

ANSWER: Hello Zula, Thanks for your question. No, I have not been able to find any info on the lids. Griffiths no longer has info on the correct size. The closest I've been able to come is size either 43mm, 33mm or 28mm. I tried using lids from other similarly sized spice jars and they worked fine. The only problem is they were all plastic, none metal. There are sites on the net offering samples of metal lids but they all charge a fortune for "shipping" which is a barely disguised minimum order service charge. If I find any info, or suitable metal lid replacements, I will post it to the refurb guide.

ADDENDUM: an e-bayer wrote me to say that the McCormick spice jar lids are a perfect fit for Griffiths jars. Unfortunately, they only come in green or white and are all plastic. But, that would be a great place to start if you need to swap out the lids on your collection. There are sites on the net selling plastic lids that look similar to the metal with flip top lids. I've seen black, red and white lids. Could be a really neat way to modernize your Griffith spice jar collection.


6) QUESTION: Do you know if the plastic racks were ever produced in black? I have my Mom's twelve jars with black lids, but no plastic rack. She is in her seventies and doesn't really remember the rack, but thought it might have been black. I believe Mom acquired it in the early fifties.Thanks for any information. S.

ANSWER: Hello, thanks for your question. Actually, I do not know if the stands were produced in black. I have only seen two black stands. The first was repainted from white, the second repainted from red. Surprisingly, both looked quite nice repainted - I could not tell until I looked at the back. This is a question that I will ask Griffiths if/when they get back to me with the historical info that I requested.


7) QUESTION: Hi, I discovered these special spice jars in an antique store and completely fell in love with them as did my boyfriend. I read your guide and answers to the questions and I was wondering if you know how to clean the plastic shelf units without damaging the plastic. Thank you for your help, K.

ANSWER: Hi Kat, thanks for your note. Any mild household dish detergent should work just fine on plastic shelf units which have not been repainted. If yours was repainted, I would use a soft, damp cleaning cloth with a soft brush (for the corners) and clean them without submerging them in water.


8) QUESTION: Hi, Thanks for your quick answer! I was wondering what kind of paint you used for the two shelves you own? Thanks, K.

ANSWER: Hi K. Both of the sets I had with the plastic shelves were repainted - one black from red and one red from white. Both, I might add, looked very nice. According to Griffiths, there is no value in the plastic holder- other than that it belongs to the set. So, in my opinion, a quick coat of the spray paint of your choice should spruce it up nicely for you. Thanks for asking. I will add your question to the guide for questions. They were already painted over when I got them. I would think that two thin coats of any spray paint suitable for use on acrylic or plastic would work just fine. If the area in which you cook is not overly moist or humid, you could probably use the same paint and match the color of your lids, if you are repainting them as well.


9) QUESTION: I recently bought for my daughter from ebay a set of Griffith spice jars. Unfortunately the black plastic rack was damaged in transit. I have glued it together as best possible but would really like to get another. Have you ever heard or known of anywhere I can find just the rack???

ANSWER: Hello P. for your question. Neither the stands, the inserts or the spice jars are being produced by Griffiths anymore. One good place to find one would be here on e-bay or other online site that sells used merchandise. You can try the following: (1) You can also post your request in an e-bay forum for collectors of Griffiths jars. (2) Most of the sellers who have the jars and stands sell them together. But, it may be possible to find a seller who has an extra stand. You can contact a seller with more than one set to see if they have an extra stand. (3) Don't forget to check your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, House of Hope or church run second-hand store. (4) Also check at local flea markets and antique stores. You may not find a true Griffiths stand. But, perhaps another vintage stand will work for you. When you go shopping, take a couple of jars with you to make sure they will fit. Remember, any color of the Griffith metal lids, wooden or plastic stands can be spray painted. According to Griffiths, the value is in the jars, not the stands. And, the wood stands are generally more sturdy. Hope this helps! :-)


10) QUESTION: BACK LABELS I have the set of 19 but, they're missing the back labels. I'm hoping to reproduce them on my own, but I was hoping you could help. In your time and with your collection could you please e-mail me what the back labels read? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. M.

ANSWER: Hello Michelle, Sorry, I can not help you with the back labels. None of my jars have them now because I removed them with the intent to replace them "one day." The labels are all the same size and fit into the same size indented area on the jar. The back label has the name of the spice on the top line, a brief, one line description and the copyright info for Griffiths at the bottom. If I remember correctly, they were 2" x 2" square. There is a photo of the back label in my main historical guide for these jars. Spice descriptions can be obtained from a dictionary, encyclopedia or any non-copyright protected document on the internet. Hope this helps! :-)


(11) QUESTION/ JAR LIDS: Hi: I just read several of your reviews. Terrific info. I wanted to tell you that at one time I contacted ojh91 about jar lids. Maybe 2 yrs. ago. At that time he had lids for sale for vitrock shakers, and also Griffith spice jars. I believe they were new replacement lids that would have had to be painted, and were abt $1.50 each. I never followed through on this myself. (NOTE: seller does not currently have any lids). Perhaps you have already tried this one. You seem very thorough. There was another ebay-er, a store called oldkitchenwares that also may have had some. Anyhow, just in case this info has any value, I am sending it along. My Mom had a large set of Griffith's with a maple rack, and mixed lids--black, red, yellow and green, and yellow peeling paper labels if I remember. Naturally, my brother took over the house, and I guess kept what he wanted, and misplaced the rest. In any case he has no idea what might have happened to that set. A fond memory, and a source of current obsession with Griffith's. K-

ANSWER 1: I just added this for extra info. Although neither of these sellers had Griffith lids, it never hurts to check with sellers of vintage kitchenwares to see if they have old jars or lids from broken jars.

ANSWER 2: (2018) A fellow ebay collector notified me that she purchased plastic lids from an eBay seller named 'dish' that fit her jars. Currently the colors available are black, white and red. I have not personally seen or purchased from any listing so, this information is not to be interpreted as a referral or recommendation. As always, check the sellers profile and feedback ratings to be sure you are comfortable purchasing.


(12) Hello "J. R." and thanks for your questions. Questions and answers follow:

QUESTION: "There is a circle with writing in it on one or more of the shaker top inserts in my set. The top of the circle was marked ERVEN LUCAS, center, BOLS est 1575 in Bottom says AMSTERDAM. Have you seen this condition before?"

ANSWER: No. The metal shaker inserts are so tiny, I have never seen any with any type of printing.

QUESTION: "Are the painted shaker tops always painted on both sides?" ANSWER: Usually yes. I've seen them in silver but also painted copper and gold metal, red, white, yellow, and black.

QUESTION: "Several of them look usable, but several are rather crackled and flaky." ANSWER: You can try to scrape off the paint but, there is probably rust underneath that will be difficult to remove without damaging the shaker. I'd try using a Brillo pad first just to see how that works. I usually toss the rusted ones because they are difficult to restore.

QUESTION: "Should I leave these alone or could I scrape off the paint without changing the value?"

ANSWER: According to Griffiths, the value of the jars is largely historical relating to their time period, style, and the type of glass used (milk glass). Although a set with all of the original number of jars, original front and back labels and wood or plastic stand intact and in perfect condition has a greater historical/collectible value. Not to mention the purely sentimental value to all of us collectors. So, scraping off loose paint or sanding down to the bare metal and using a food safe sealer would not affect the value. Plus it would make them more sanitary for your use. Thanks for your questions. I will share them with other Griffiths collectors through the refurbishing guide.


(13) FREE GRIFFITH JAR LABELS COMMENT: Hello Dear Reader: I was contacted by another Griffiths Jar collector who has taken the time to re-create the original yellow labels for these jars. He has posted the design on "flickr" and is offering them free of charge to anyone who wished to download. Unfortunately, e-bay will not allow me to post his complete e-mail with the download links. You will need to contact him for more information or, do a search at flickr under "Griffiths Laboratories" or the username "Kanemojo". A copy of his e-mail to me follows: "I read your restoration guide about Griffith's Spice Jars, and wanted to let you know I completed reproducing the front labels by tracing each letter of the labels from high quality scans. People can find and print these labels under a creative commons non-commercial and unalterable attribute license at Flickr. I have posted 600 dpi images ready for printing. Unlike some of the labels for sale, these are reproduced from the original lead type - free. ... I also posted a shot on how to make the labels appear older by using boiled linseed oil painted on manila cardstock. ... Enjoy, and have fun. Michael Kanemoto / From: paleonut - ebay user


(14) QUESTION: "Hi! I recently bought a Griffith's set. The scrolly type of black label right on the glass, with black tops. There are a few tops that are rusty and I would like to paint them and the inserts are in good shape, many of them, but I was -wondering if you knew if the paint used was lead-free? And if I DO paint over them, what would you recommend as the type of paint? Brand, etc. Thank you, your guide is very informative! Cheers, S."

ANSWER: Hello, thanks for your question. I do not know for sure but, would assume that the paint is NOT lead free. Griffiths made these past WWII and into the 1950's when lead was commonly used in enamel -based paint. The amount of lead in it is probably negligible because the lids are so small. But, if you are concerned, purchase a lead testing kit at your local hardware store for a few dollars and check the lead content. If you are sanding off the paint, be sure to wear a mask and sand by hand rather than by machine unless you are using a machine that gathers the sanding dust. Then, be sure to discard the dust in a separate container. As for paint, any good quality, enamel-based spray paint should work just fine. I don't know about you but, I occasionally handle spice jar lids with wet or damp hands. Or, use a damp cloth to open a stuck-on lid. Plus, periodically you should wash them off. For that reason, avoid using a water-based spray paint. I usually get good results with RustOLeum multi-surface enamel spray paints. But, any good quality name brand enamel spray paint should work just as well. Be sure to read and print out my guide for painting the lids. It will save you time and spare you the mistakes that I made.:-) Hope this helps you!


(15) COMMENT: Trying to decide whether or not to keep and use an insert? For coarse, dried, leafy or seed spices the inserts are kind of a nuisance. At least they are to me and I do not use them for these type of spices. As for powdered or granulated spices, if a shaker insert still snaps tightly into the jar, has no or minimal rust, is unpainted or the paint intact and stays in place while shaking, keep it and use it for powdered spices. If the insert are rusted or have peeling missing paint, either sand it all off or throw it away. No one sells the inserts and Griffith does not make them any longer. As yet, I have not been able to locate a suitable plastic substitute.


(16) COMMENT: Hi - just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your spice jar reviews. I just happened upon them because Griffith is my married last name. I found and purchased a great set on Etsy. :) Just for trivia's sake I guess I wanted to let you know that when I was flipping channels I spotted a Griffith spice set on "The Nanny" on the wall behind the sink in Fran's mom house. How fun! Have a great week! -A. :)


(17) QUESTION: I very much enjoyed reading your eBay guide about Griffith's spice jars sets! Now I have a question for you....what can you tell me about the jars in a chocolate brown color? Here's a link to my eBay listing with pictures: (deleted per e-bay) . Thanks so much for your help - D.

ANSWER: Hello and thanks for your question and the photo. Other than loving them, not much! :-) I'm no expert but, just from my observation of previous Griffith listings, the lid color may be wrong for these items. All the sets I've seen so far had dark chocolate brown lids. However, the color may have been modified by a previous owner to match his/her own kitchen. Also, the plastic inserts are something I've never seen before. 7 years into this and up until now, I've seen only metal inserts - painted and unpainted. And, where are the labels on the back? Did you buy these like this or modify them? Thanks in advance for your reply.

QUESTION: Thanks for your speedy reply! They really are different, aren't they? The lids were yellow when I purchased them and they don't appear to have been re-painted. They whole set is in great condition and everything looks to be original. I found it at an estate sale exactly as it is now. No paper labels. The inserts are metal. Thanks for your help!

ANSWER: No problem! :-) My only remaining comment is to the missing labels on the back. The original 4" and 3" white Griffith spice jars always have a small complimentary label on the back with a brief, one sentence description of the spice in the jar. The only exceptions I've seen so far are the small (3") clear jars; some of which have descriptions that were painted/fired on. The stand is original to the set. I will post the details of your question and my replies in the "Questions" guide for these jars. Good luck with your sale. These are gorgeous!


(18) QUESTION: Hi, I was researching Griffith's spice jars and came upon your guide...earlier today I found a set of 21 clear glass jars with light blue lids, They are the white label with the lady doing chores. They are complete with a wooden spice rack...Not sure if the rack is original. If you could give me any information as far as the age or value I would be very thankful! Thanks in advance, L. :)

ANSWER: Thanks for your note. I am no expert but, just going by the way the character is dressed, I would guess that this charming set is among those produced in the late 1940's - early 1950's. She looks so doggone domesticated I want to get in the kitchen, grab a broom and help her out! :-) Anyways, without seeing a photo, I can not tell if the rack that you have is part of the set or not. So far, I have not seen light blue lids on the smaller jars - just gold, silver, copper, black and white. But, light blue lids were made for the larger jars. So, it is possible they were made for the smaller jars as well. Examine the inside rim to see if they were repainted at some point in the past. Without more info from Griffiths, it is not possible right now to pin down the exact year they were made. I am getting so many questions I think it is time to contact them again to try for more specific answers. As far as the value, it is largely in the eye of the beholder. There is no determined value for any of their sets although the milk glass is more highly prized because of its' age and history. If you can e-mail me a photo, I may be able to help a bit more. Thanks for your question.


(19) QUESTION: Hi there. I have read your review on ebay with tips for owners of Griffith's spice jars. I have a set of 18 with yellow lids and wood rack. I have been meaning to actually use them, but I would like to out and out replace the lids. I don't need inserts. I have a small child who recently had elevated lead (back to normal now) so I cannot see myself using anything with any lead paint or even refurbishing it. So before I go ahead and sell the set to someone else, I thought I'd ask to see if you found out anything else about new replacement lids that you hadn't had a chance to post yet. Thanks so much for your time. -J

ANSWER: Hello, I have not been able to locate any seller of similar lids. One company I thought might have them sent me samples but all of theirs were too large. As far as the paint on the lids is concerned, why not test them for lead before selling? In this economy, unless you got them for free, you will not get what you paid or what they are worth. You can buy an inexpensive lead test kit at your local hardware store. Also, some of the lids have a water based paint that will wash right off in hot water or a dishwasher. If you have that type, you can wash off the old paint and repaint with something lead-free which most spray paints are now-a-days. I hope this helps...


(20) QUESTION: Hi. I have a set of the milk white spice jars, it is a set of 18. I am trying to find out where to order the inserts for them. Can you please help me? I just got these at an auction, brought them home to clean them up. They all had some kind of spice in them that who knows how old. The inserts are all rusted and not usable anymore. Please let me know if you have any info, Thanks, S.

ANSWER: Hello and thanks for your question. To the best of my knowledge, no one makes this type of metal insert anymore. Now, sifters are plastic and sit on the rim of the jar instead of down inside. If you measure yours and do a search at Google for "plastic spice jar sifter" you may find something.


(21) QUESTION: Hey! I really dig your Griffiths guide! I was considering getting a set cause right now I have a lot of spices in ziplocks that I got for free at airport security and I'm thinking that might be a little too ghetto. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I have two questions.... 1) Do you know of anyone making custom labels for these spice jars? Or do ya hafta do it yourself. For which I would need QUITE a bit of alcohol. 2) What are the original labels - what spices? I was thinking the 24 set, but any resources you could direct me to would be much appreciated. - Ellie BTW - I am going to start a little guide of my own about airport security ziplock collecting as I am the current world expert. So maybe I will use your guide page as a sort of model. ? ;) E.

ANSWER: Regarding your questions: (1) There are two sellers on e-bay who make custom labels for these jars. Please read my review for the details of my experiences with them. (2) Making the labels yourself is not difficult. The review I made for the labels has info regarding a flickr page with the labels already laid out. You can print them out on a sheet of letter sized paper white label paper then cut out the ones you want. Or, you can print them on a sheet of clear label paper which is available for laser printers but may not be available for inkjet printers. Your local Office Depot, Office Max or Staples should have an assortment from which you can choose. (3) The list of original spice names is in this review: But, you are free to use any labels/names that you wish.

Remember that (A) the front of the jars was made in more than one style. If you are building a collection, it looks better to have them all in the same style. A description of the styles is in the same guide under the subheading "Description of Jars." (B) the lids are all paintable so, the original color of them does not matter. For instance, I bought the same style jars with yellow, green, red and black lids sanded them smooth and painted them all black enamel for my kitchen. The value of the jars is in the milk glass/vintage not the lid colors or label names. Good luck with building your spice jar collection and have fun! :-)


(22) QUESTION: I have a set of 18 white milk glass jars with 9 black, 4 red, 3 turquoIse and 2 yellow tops. When I purchased the set, I was told there was a specific way for them to be placed on the shelves according to the color of the tops. My young niece was visiting recently and "rearranged" the jars for me. I can't remember their order and can't seem to find anything about it online. I am hoping you can help. Thanks a million

ANSWER: Thanks for contacting me. But, this is the first I've heard of there being a specific way for them to be placed on the shelves. As far as I know, they did not sell sets with mixed colored lids. Every set I have seen so far, all of the lids are the same color. In other words, all black, all yellow, all red, all turquoise etc. Mine are in alphabetical order on the storage shelf but otherwise, there is no historical requirement for a particular order. I will add your question to my guide on these items and if there is a collector who has an answer, I encourage them to contact me.


(23) QUESTION: Dear steelergal62, Hello you article was very helpful, however I am trying to identify the period that my jars were made. They match your description on size and the lines on the jars. The jars I own hane incised numbers on the bottom in a target type of rings. The jars all have different numbers from 4 to 31. They are also translucent in he corners . I have not found any information That reference numbers or the translucent area on the jars. I really hope you can help! I have attached photos for your review . Thank and regards

ANSWER: Hello Thanks for your question. The construction and type of glass used in the jars are all the same and were from the beginning of production until the end. There are several ways to identify the approximate age: the color of the jar, the type of label used on the front of the jar and the type of stand (if you have one) for your set. According to their website, before World War II the racks were made of plastic. During the war, they were made of wood and after the war wood/metal combination or plastic again. The paper labels are pretty much prewar also. I was not able to get a definitive answer from Griffith's when last I contacted them. At the time, they were in the process of moving and the library was not accessible. Not sure if that helps but, it should give you some idea of the approximate age of your jars.

************************************* (Be sure to check out my other Griffith Spice Jar Guides. If you have a question or comment about Griffith Spice Jars, drop me a line. I will be happy to try and get an answer for you. No question is too "dumb" to ask. If you found this guide helpful, take a moment to complete the survey below. It is nice to hear from other people who love these jars, too! -- Blessings from an avid Griffith Spice Jar collector... Tags: Griffith Laboratories Jars white milk glass spice jars Griffith Hoover spice jars Griffith Labs white spice jars Griffith spice jars

If you love these jars as much as I do, take a look at my other Griffiths Jar Guides in this decorating blog: Discontinued eBay Griffiths Spice Jar Guides (c) 2007-present. -- Blessings from an avid Griffith Spice Jar Collector

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