Tag Archives: bottles

The Food and Drug Act

The 1906 Food and Drugs Act and creation of the FDA

In June 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Food and Drugs Act, also known as the “Wiley Act” after its chief advocate. The Act prohibited, under penalty of seizure of goods, the interstate transport of food which had been “adulterated”, with that term referring to the addition of fillers of reduced “quality or strength”, coloring to conceal “damage or inferiority,” formulation with additives “injurious to health,” or the use of “filthy, decomposed, or putrid” substances. The act applied similar penalties to the interstate marketing of “adulterated” drugs, in which the “standard of strength, quality, or purity” of the active ingredient was not either stated clearly on the label or listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia or the National Formulary. The act also banned “misbranding” of food and drugs. The responsibility for examining food and drugs for such “adulteration” or “misbranding” was given to Wiley’s USDA Bureau of Chemistry.

Wiley used these new regulatory powers to pursue an aggressive campaign against the manufacturers of foods with chemical additives, but the Chemistry Bureau’s authority was soon checked by judicial decisions, as well as by the creation of the Board of Food and Drug Inspection and the Referee Board of Consulting Scientific Experts as separate organizations within the USDA in 1907 and 1908 respectively. A 1911 Supreme Court decision ruled that the 1906 act did not apply to false claims of therapeutic efficacy, in response to which a 1912 amendment added “false and fraudulent” claims of “curative or therapeutic effect” to the Act’s definition of “misbranded.” However, these powers continued to be narrowly defined by the courts, which set high standards for proof of fraudulent intent. In 1927, the Bureau of Chemistry’s regulatory powers were reorganized under a new USDA body, the Food, Drug, and Insecticide organization. This name was shortened to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) three years later.
Read more from Wikipedia

Some Quick Things To Look At To Date Bottles

Side Seams:

None: bottle may be free blown and uneven shape dating before 1860 or the bottle may have an even shape but spun in the mold to smoth out the seams- a common practice around 1900-1920.

BIM: side seams run from base and end below the top of lip. This is a result of Bowing In Mold (BIM). The lip is usually applied by hand later.

3PM: (3 piece mold) Bottom half (from base to shoulder) has no seams then there are seams near the shoulder that runs completely around the bottle. Two side seams run up the neck and end below the top of the lip. This was used from 1840-70. The lip was also applied by hand later.

ABM: if the side seams run through the top of the lip then it made this way. AMB stands for Automatic Bottle Machine. This type of bottle making started appearing in 1905 and by 1920 most bottles were made like this.

Beer Bottles

Beer Bottles

Beer is of ancient origins. At the beginning it was restricted exclusively to the upper classes. Poor people would drank a beverage called mulsum- made from the leavings of grapes and other fruits, after the juice had been extracted for wine.

Beer was (supposedly) been taken on the Mayflower with the pilgrims in 1620. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both did their own home brewing as well as many early prominent early Americans.

Not until 1850 did beer bottles exist. All beer at that time was either made in the home or drank at taverns from which it was dispensed from wooden barrels.

Taverns tried to stop the bottling of beer for fear it would hurt their trade. By 1870 beer was made available in most parts of the country. Tavern owners offered specials like a free lunch with the purchase of beer.

The average beer bottle in 1870 was made of glass, contained a quart of beer and had a cork stopper. Breweries didn’t emboss their names and emblems on the bottles until early 1870.

Corks were replaced as stoppers on bottles by “crown cork closure”. These were tight-fitting metal caps with a thin slice of cork inside. This was an invention by William Painter in 1891.
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Cure Bottles

Cure Bottles


Cure bottles are interesting as they serve as a documentary evidence of how the general public was fooled in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were advertised to cure all types of physical and emotional problems. The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission stopped the sale of these “miracle drugs”.

Many people were delayed or prevented from seeking proper medical aid. There was no rules at that time in the “cure all”. In 1816 J. Andrus placed a cancer cure on the market and some years before W. Stoy had a sure way to cure rabies.

The success of the “miracle cure” was largely based on the distrust of doctors. If a doctor pronounced a case incurable and then a “cure” was available through a medicine maker, people tended to believe the medicine maker over the doctor. Some people today still rely on store-bought medicine rather than a doctor.

Patent medicine cures were in such a demand that road shows were organized around them. They worked out of wagons and some were even booked into theaters throughout the country. There was a cast of who traveled with the “medicine man”. These included several persons who had been “chronic sufferers” but due to the repeated use of the cure were totally healed. They would come forward and tell their stories. The show would close with the product being sold by the bottle or case.

The more bizarre the product name the better. Some used foreign names and claimed the product was from that country. Some cures were suppose to be Indian in origination. It was a well known fact that Indians didn’t visit the white man’s doctors and didn’t take their medicines. They made their own cures from closely-guarded recipes. The ingredients of these cures were disregarded and the name was given to the product for the purpose of more sells.

These bottles was found in the 1960s when the expressway came through the Portland neighborhood of Louisville, KY. The site was a city dump many years before. When building began they dug down about 20 feet and unearthed many bottles that were thrown away years ago.
My father gathered many and put them in boxes behind his shed until around 2001 when I became interested in the history.
To my amazement the bottles were still intact and in very good condition despite the harsh winters.

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