Listerine, now a product of Pfizer Inc., is a common household item known for its antiseptic properties. While used today primarily as a mouthwash for oral health and hygiene, it has been sold as a surgical disinfectant, a cure for dandruff, a floor cleaner, a hair tonic, a deodorant, and as a "beneficial remedy" for diseases ranging from diphtheria and dysentery to small pox and gonorrhea.
Listerine, named for Sir Joseph Lister, founder of the practice of antiseptic medicine, was first formulated in St. Louis, MO in 1879 by Dr. Joseph Lawrence and Jordan Wheat Lambert. Lambert's Pharmacal Co. later merged with the William R. Warner Company. Lambert's son, Gerald Barnes Lambert became Lambert-Warner's president in 1923. In his five years as the head of the firm, Listerine's profits increased 60 times. The success was largely due to Lambert's memorable advertising campaigns, most notably the reinvention of bad breath as the medical condition "halitosis" and the resultant social fears it inspired.
This Listerine bottle dates from between 1895 and1906. It was the winner of a national contest sponsored by Listerine in 1995 to find the most interesting example of an old Listerine bottle. The bottle was chosen because of its rare, two-part rear labeling on an unembossed bottle in excellent condition.
Currently not on view
Object Name
otc preparation
oral hygiene product
date made
Lambert Pharmacal Company
Physical Description
thyme (drug active ingredients)
eucalypyus (drug active ingredients)
taptisia (drug active ingredients)
galutheria (drug active ingredients)
white (label color)
black (label color)
overall: 7 3/8 in x 2 3/4 in; 18.7325 cm x 6.985 cm
place made
United States: Missouri, St. Louis
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
First Aid Products & Antiseptics
Health & Medicine
Beauty and Health
Beauty and Hygiene Products: Oral Care
Beauty and Hygiene Products: Alleviating Odor
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Beauty and Hygiene Products: Alleviating Odor
Beauty and Health
Beauty and Hygiene Products: Oral Care
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of the Warner-Lambert Company
Additional Media

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