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!