DUPRS_0058 John Wyeth & Bro Bottle

Dublin Core


DUPRS_0058 John Wyeth & Bro Bottle


Blue glass bottle fragment with embossing identifying it as a John Wyeth & Bro. Medicine Bottle


Blue glass bottle fragment with “Pat. May 16TH 1899” embossed on bottle base and on the bottle side embossing ending in “...& Bro.” The bottle is fragmentary and only part of the side and base are present but the shape is of a square sided bottle.


John Wyeth & Bro.


Selective Surface collection, east Stanley Park, Historic Chatham Township (modern Summit, New Jersey)


Drew University, Department of Anthropology, Drew University Passaic River Survey


Late 19th to early 20th century


Maria Masucci




Complete examples of this bottle type with this same embossing are from John Wyeth & Bro. and the bottle rim would have had a dose glass resting on it and the bottle said “TAKE NEXT DOSE AT” and then a mark so the dose glass can be rotated to the hour marked at its base.

This type of bottle was patented in 1899. Only the older bottles from this manufacturer are blue but it is not known when this bottle color was phased out. These bottles were handblown until 1910 which is also around the estimated time when the deep cobalt blue was discontinued.

This bottle represents a medicine bottle but since the same bottle was used for various medicines it is impossible to say for sure which type of medicine, but the same shape of bottle with its label intact contained sodium phosphate; “A mild and pleasant Laxative Employed in the Treatment of Constipation, Obesity, Children’s Diarrhea, Rickets, Jaundice, etc.

According to Baybottles - an antique bottle website:
“The business of John Wyeth & Brother originated in 1861 when John and Frank Wyeth formed a partnership and opened an apothecary store in Philadelphia. The company and its several successors have remained in business for over 150 years, ultimately becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer in 2009.

A graduate of the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy, prior to founding John Wyeth & Brother, John Wyeth had partnered with Henry C. Blair under the name of Blair & Wyeth, in a Philadelphia pharmacy business located at Eighth and Walnut Streets. His brother Frank Wyeth, also a Philadelphia School of Pharmacy graduate, worked for the business as chief clerk.

On July 1, 1861 the Blair & Wyeth partnership was dissolved and the brothers formed a new partnership under the name John Wyeth & Brother. Notices for both the dissolution of the old business and establishment of the new business were printed in the July 2, 1861 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.”

Their entrance into drug manufacturing appears to be driven by the increased need for drug related supplies as a result of the Civil War. Wyeth’s obituary, in the April 1907 edition of a pharmaceutical magazine called “The Spatula,” stated:
When the Civil War broke out he secured a big contract to furnish the Government with medicinal supplies, and from this began the manufacturing of pharmaceutical articles.

Early in their history the business became famous for their sweetened tinctures which they called elixirs. A story featuring Wyeth in the March 28, 1881 edition of the Montreal Gazette described their elixirs like this:
The elixirs are drug compounds, made up in an elegant and palatable shape; drugs which are nauseating in the ordinary form are in this guise cordials which a patient can take with relish and which the weakest and most sensitive stomach will not reject.

The company was sold to American Home Products in the early 1930s after the death of the son of John Wyeth.

One of the headquarters of American Home Products and then Wyeth was located in Madison, New Jersey, next to Drew University for the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century.




John Wyeth & Bro. , “DUPRS_0058 John Wyeth & Bro Bottle,” Drew University Library Special Collections, accessed April 23, 2024, http://omeka.drew.edu/items/show/698.