Liquid Latex Prophylactic

Description:

Liquid Latex brand condoms were produced by the Comet Envelope and Packaging Company of New York, New York around 1933. The green and brown paper envelope features an image of two jesters playing horns, marching into a castle or walled town. The envelope contained a dozen condoms that were steam sterilized, air tested, and guaranteed safe for five years.The envelope is empty.

The flap on the envelope reads “Liquid Latex prophylactics are [the] Thinnest and Strongest prophylactics manufactured. They are Steam Sterilized—every one air tested. Guaranted against deterioration for 5 years. Sold only thru reliable Drug Stores. Insist upon LIQUID LATEX—accept no Substitutes. Sold for prevention of Contagious diseases only upon a prescription from your physician.”

Beginning in about 1920, condom manufacturers had begun using latex, as opposed to rubber, for their condoms. Because rubber condom manufacturing required the addition of gasoline to create liquid rubber, condom factories which produced rubber condoms were extremely susceptible to destruction by fire. Unlike rubber, latex is not highly flammable. It also has a high tensile strength and can be stretched more easily than rubber.

In 1872, the Comstock Act had prohibited interstate commerce in obscene literature and immoral material. Condoms and other forms of birth control fell under the category of “immoral material.” As forbidden material, condoms were rarely advertised openly.

However, during the early twentieth century, rising concerns about gonorrhea and syphilis led a growing number of public health advocates to call for condoms to be sold to prevent disease. In 1918, a court case in New York, (The People of the State of New York v Margaret H. Sanger) clarified that physicians could prescribe condoms to prevent disease. Named after Judge Frederick Crane who wrote the opinion in the case, the Crane decision opened the door for condom manufacturers to openly advertise and sell condoms, provided they were sold as a disease preventative.

By selling their condoms only in drug stores, the manufacturers of Lquid Latex Condoms were able to underscore the legitimacy of their product and to charge higher prices.

Date Made: after 1933Date Made: ca 1933-1950s

Maker: Comet Env. & Ptg. Co.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

Associated Subject; Web Subject: Birth Control/ContraceptionSexually Transmitted DiseasesSex

Subject:

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine

Exhibition:

Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1983.0871.76Accession Number: 1983.0871Catalog Number: 1983.0871.76

Object Name: CondomEnvelopecontraceptive, condom

Measurements: overall: 22.5 cm x 10 cm; x 8 7/8 in x 3 15/16 inoverall: 4 in x 9 in; 10.16 cm x 22.86 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a7-1007-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_892350

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.