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.

Date Made: 1895-1906

Maker: Lambert Pharmacal Company

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Missouri, St. Louis

Subject: First Aid Products & Antiseptics


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine, Health & Medicine, The Antibody Initiative, Beauty and Hygiene Products: Oral Care, Beauty and Health, Beauty and Hygiene Products: Alleviating Odor


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Warner-Lambert Company

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1995.0013.01Catalog Number: 1995.0013.01Accession Number: 1995.0013

Object Name: otc preparationmouthwashoral hygiene productantisepticOther Terms: Patent Medicine, Bottle of; Pharmaceutical; Mouth Wash

Physical Description: thyme (product active ingredients)eucalypyus (product active ingredients)baptisia (product active ingredients)gaultherin (product active ingredients)paper (label material)glass (container material)benzo-boracic acid, 2 grains/fl. drachm (product active ingredients)mentha arvensis (product active ingredients)Measurements: overall: 7 3/8 in x 2 3/4 in; 18.7325 cm x 6.985 cm


Record Id: nmah_1170944

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