Sputum Flask, Blue Glass with Dual Caps

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In the 1800s and early 1900s, pulmonary tuberculosis was a major health concern. Those suspected of suffering from the disease might be ostracized, ridiculed, and denied certain civil rights. One of the signs of tuberculosis was the production of large amounts of viscous, sometimes bloody, matter from the lungs. As a result, sufferers used objects like this glass pocket flask to dispose of the coughed up mass, without drawing attention to themselves by spitting.
Currently not on view
date made
early 1900s
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
metal (overall material)
blue, cobalt (overall color)
molded (overall production method/technique)
overall: 7.7 cm x 11.2 cm x 4.1 cm; x 3 1/16 in x 4 7/16 in x 1 5/8 in
overall: 4 1/2 in x 3 1/8 in x 4 1/2 in; 11.43 cm x 7.9375 cm x 11.43 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
The Antibody Initiative
Health & Medicine
Antibody Initiative: Tuberculosis
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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