Collecting – Vintage James Keiller Dundee Marmalade Jars and Crocks

You’ve seen these on Instagram and Pinterest or purchased them at a local vintage market, eBay or Etsy. They are so highly collectible right now. Here’s a brief history of the James Keiller Dundee marmalade jars and crocks.

Back in the 18th Century, the story goes that a ship carrying Seville oranges sought refuge in Dundee Harbor. The lot of oranges was sold to James Keiller whose mother, Janet, decided to make marmalade out of the bounty. Thus, the James Keiller Dundee Marmalade Company was born. Back in the day, it was believed that the pieces of orange peel in the marmalade aided in digestion.

James Keiller’s son, James, Jr. took over the business in the late 1700’s and named the company James Keiller & Sons. The company set up a factory in Guernsey (an island off the coast of Normandy near France). Dundee Marmalade’s popularity grew and by the end of the 19th Century, the marmalade was shipping to all the way to Australia, New Zealand, India and China.The son of James Keiller (Alexander) and grandson (John) ran the company after James Keiller’s death.

Keiller’s Dundee brand of orange marmalade became one of the first brands to be formally registered when the British Trademark Registry Act went into effect in 1876. The firm was acquired by Crosse & Blackwell in the 1920’s and sold again several times after that. The James Keiller & Sons Dundee Marmalade Company ceased to exist in 1992.

So, enough with the history lesson. I’ve gathered some information about the different styles of these marmalade crocks and how you can date yours back to a specific time:

This is one of the older crocks (1862-1873) which you can tell for two reasons: 1) the top of the crock has a curved rim which was used with a cork stopper rather than a screw-on lid. The second is the Prize Medal Label and the date which only includes the year 1862 (newer crocks have the prize medal dates of 1862 and 1873).

The rim on this crock was used with a metal and fabric covered lid. These pre-date the newer screw-on metal lids that you find on most jars today.

This crock (above) is newer as you can tell by the raised rim which accomodates a screw-on metal lid. It also includes the net weight in ounces.

This beauty is one its way to me from Portugal! I hope to have it soon.

I would love to hear about your collection and ways that you display these wonderful marmalade crocks!


22 thoughts on “Collecting – Vintage James Keiller Dundee Marmalade Jars and Crocks

  1. Hi Wendy. I purchased my James Keiller & sons marmalade crock at a yard sale for $1! The gentleman was a collector of many many things but needed to downsize. He had loads of great deals, priced to sell. This crock caught my eye amongst little odd & ends in a box. I’ve never heard of this company so when I got home I researched it and was pleasantly surprised by the story! Then I came across your page. ☺️



  2. Hello,

    Just found your post here re: Dundee Marmalade jars. I would love to find/purchase one to hold desk items (and I love Marmalade) – # size would be perfect. Do you have any suggestions on best place to purchase: Etsy, Ebay, etc?
    Just saw your location in OC – my sister lives in the SJC/Mission Viejo area!
    Thanks so much.

    Priscilla M.


  3. Just found one whilst digging out a cellar underneath our house in Cupar, Fife (local to Dundee). Sadly, it’s a bit damaged but still really nice!
    Also found some very old glass bottles & a lovely earthenware ink well bottle. The house is c1790 & we’ve just started excavating ….. so who knows what might turn up?!?!


  4. Wendy!
    We here in Sag Harbor NY have found sherds comprising a Jamel Keiller & Son’s Dundee Marmalde jar. Under the bow is the letter “E.” I note from internet photos that different letters of the alphabet are placed under the Bow. What do they mean?


    • Hi Jean. Thank you for your comment. I’m learning so much about these Dundee marmalade. jars. I found this article which might help explain a bit about the letters under the bow. I have two jars with letters – one has an “O” and one has an “R”. Here is the article:

      If the link does not work, must search for “dundee jars letter under bow”.


    • Hi Jean

      I found shards of a Keiller Marmalade jar after Hurricane Sandy in the Bay near East Quogue – I glued them together to form a jar and it holds pencils on my desk – I think one of the ‘oldest ones’ from 1862-19-873.

      Where in Sag Harbor did you find yours?

      Susie Naughton


  5. Hi, do you know what year the last crock is from, the one you got from Portugal? I found one exactly like this under my kitchen floor. Try to find out exactly hold old my house is.



    • Hi Angela. I don’t have an exact date of the year the crock was made, sorry. It’s what they call a “chubby” crock because it’s a little wider and not as tall as the more common marmalade Dundee crocks.


  6. Hi Wendy,

    I’ve come across an older version of the crock, which has the curved rim for a cork stopper much like the one you’ve pictured in this blog post. However, there’s no stamp or marking on the bottom of the crock. Have you come across this? What are your thoughts on why no marking?



    • Hi Antoinette. Thank you for your comment. I don’t know why yours has no markings on the bottom – I’ve found that sometimes they do have markings and sometimes they don’t. My version of this crock does have the word “MALING” and “PATENT” on the bottom. It could be the use of different molds to make these crocks.


  7. Good afternoon Wendy,

    I found your blog after find a, I’ll call it a second pattern crock (used with a metal and cloth lid; your second one shown in the descriptions) today while out searching for treasures today.

    I just wanted to say thank you for the information you’ve written as I knew I had “something” but didn’t know exactly what until I got home.

    Very respectfully,


  8. Hi…recently purchased Dundee marmalade jar… After searching exhaustively online, I cant find any info to help date the jar. Im thinking I paid way too much though. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Linda


    • Hi Linda. I’m glad you were able to find a Dundee marmalade jar. The prices seem to be all over the map these days but if you’re happy with the jar, that’s really all that matters. As far as dating the jars goes, I also haven’t been able to find any real specific information on this. Thank you for reading my blog! Wendy


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