Mermaid Brand Liquid Latex Product


This Mermaid brand liquid latex condom was manufactured by the Mason Evy Company of New York, New York around 1931. The paper envelope bears the image of a mermaid lounging on rocks in the foreground, with a mountain and a sea in the background.

The flap on the envelope reads “Mermaid Brand the ‘Perfection Maid’ Liquid Latex prophylactic is made from the finest quality of sterilized Liquid Latex. The Thinnest and yet Strongest Product of its Kind on the market. Sold only through the druggist as a disease preventative. Guaranteed Unconditionally For Five Years.”

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 Mermaid Brand Condoms were able to underscore the legitimacy of their product and to charge higher prices.

Date Made: ca 1931Date Made: After 1931

Maker: Mason Evy. Co.

Location: Currently not on view

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

Subject: Birth Control/Contraception, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Sex

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1983.0871.78Accession Number: 1983.0871Catalog Number: 1983.0871.78

Object Name: CondomEnvelopecontraceptive, condom

Measurements: overall: 0 cm x 23 cm x 11.1 cm; 0 in x 9 1/16 in x 4 3/8 inoverall: 4 1/4 in x 9 in; 10.795 cm x 22.86 cm


Record Id: nmah_892351

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