More on the Brody Bottles

After a few days of research we’ve been able to learn many interesting facts about the bottles recovered from the Brody Complex. Other than our Vicks Vatronol and Wilkens Whiskey bottles, we also found some other bottles that we were able to identify. Not only were these interesting because many of them are still available today or have intriguing histories, but it tells us more about what people were using in the past.

Vitalis Bottle from Brody Dig

The bottle to the left is embossed with Vitalis at top and bottom, and the screw top says Bristol-Myers corp. 1887. This bottle type is only associated with hair tonics. The bottles are round or oval shaped with a skinny neck. The mouth of the bottle is quite small to allow for the liquid to be shaken out in small amounts. Hair tonic is primarily an oil-based liquid meant to style hair. It was used primarily from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries to aid in keeping hair shiny, prevent hair loss and control dandruff. It was applied directly to the scalp and massaged in. Hair tonic was primarily used by barbers, and it was only in the 1930’s that it became marketed to the masses. It has been replaced now by the use of gels, shampoos and conditioners.

From the company website: “Our company has a strong legacy of innovation that began in New York in 1858 when Edward R. Squibb, M.D., founded a pharmaceutical company in Brooklyn, and in 1887 when two friends, William McLaren Bristol and John Ripley Myers purchased a struggling drug manufacturing firm in Clinton. Together, they laid the foundation for our company today — a global BioPharma leader that continues this legacy of innovation.” In 1938 they began producing Vitalis for individual home use instead of just for barbershops. It was touted as the first greaseless hair product to give your locks a nice shine. It didn’t hold hair in place or smell good. Vitalis must be massaged into the hair for 50 seconds and combed through for 10 second. The result is less dryness, control of dandruff and prevention of hair loss.

Listerine Bottle from Brody Dig

This bottle is small clear glass with the words: “LISTERINE” embossed above where the label would have been located and “LAMBERT PHARMACAL COMPANY” at the bottom. The bottle type is similar to many patent medicines. Listerine was invented in 1879 by Dr. Joseph Lawrence from St. Louis, MO. It was initially marketed as a surgical antiseptic with many uses. Its name comes from Sir Joseph Lister, an English surgeon who pioneered antiseptic surgery by applying Louis Pasteur’s germ theory to surgical practice. In 1881, Lambert licensed the formula from Lawrence to create the Lambert Pharmacal Company. Bottles were corked until the 1920’s when screw top became popular, and glass was used until the 1990’s.

In 1895, Listerine began being marketed as an oral antiseptic. It was only available to medical professionals until 1914, and it’s reception with the public was underwhelming. To market it so that it sold better, the Lambert Company made appeals to consumers’ insecurity by using advertising campaigns that discussed “halitosis”, or bad breath. The ads often warned of the severe social injury that having bad breath could cause, such as one’s friends talking behind one’s back or inability to find a husband. Bad breath was presented as a medical condition with a quick fix, thus the more scientific sounding, Latin-derived term of “halitosis”. These techniques of advertising caused Listerine sales to boom.

We also have some bottles that we are struggling to identify. If you know anything about Oriental Show-You brown soy sauce bottles or Jumbo Peanut Butter jars let us know!

Oriental Show-You Soy Sauce

Jumbo Peanut Butter Jar

7 thoughts on “More on the Brody Bottles

  1. Pingback: End of the Summer Wrap Up! » MSU Campus Archaeology Program

  2. Hi, I came across your Oriental Show-You Soy Sauce bottle since I am also doing research on the Oriental Show-You Company. The Oriental Show-You Company was the third earliest manufacturing company of soy sauce in the United States, and began in Columbia City, Indiana in 1924. Shinzo Ohki, the founder, imported the recipe from Japan and manufactured soy sauce through fermentation of salt, wheat, and soybeans in wooden beer vats, then pressed and bottled. The company produced about 12,000 gallons of soy sauce a year, mostly sold to midwest, east of the Mississippi River. The Oriental Show-You Company sold products such as mung bean sprouts, chow main and chop suey.

    Do you still have the bottle? We are seeking artifact donations for the upcoming exhibit, “Sweet and Sour: Chinese Food from Chinatown to Main Street.” The midwest manufacturing companies such as Oriental Show-You Company will be featured in our exhibit.

  3. Thanks for sharing! We had a hard time learning about that company, so it’s nice to hear more research was done on them. I’m not sure if we donate artifacts, but you can contact Dr. Lynne Goldstein at lynneg@msu.edu to request it!

  4. The Oriental Show You bottles were a design patented by Mr. Ohki. Didn’t know if you knew that or not. There are 3 different bottles, in size, and type of stopper. If I can answer any questions for you, I shall do my very best to do so. I’ve found Mr. Ohki to be a most gentle, gentleman, and very giving businessman. He was most kind to his employees, and employed women when their wives were away in WWII, and when the men returned home, he employed them, as well. I could go on, and on. Pat

  5. I have a Lambert pharmacal co. Laurestine glass bottle with screw on lid. I can’t find another like it it has Listerine wrote real small four times around top. And Lambert pharmacal co. Wrote twice around bottom also small. On bottom. Has a 4 and an octagon with an F in the center. And 9-930-0. I need info on it please. Thanks.

  6. Howdy! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to look it
    over. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Terrific blog and brilliant design.

  7. I can also tell you that Oriental “Show-You” (Shoyu) bottle had a front label, some sort of back or back-heel label (most of mine is missing there) and a neck label– or at least my 9 OZ variation does.
    If you would like photos, I can take some and upload a link.
    Mine is also a screw-top but has a cork shoved in it.

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