This cardboard box originally held X Cello Prophylactics (latex condoms). The Killian Company, which manufactured these condoms, was one of the first companies to manufacture latex, as opposed to rubber, condoms.
Beginning in about 1920, condom manufacturers began 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.
Beginning 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 Killians Company was able to underscore the legitimacy of their product and to charge higher prices. During the mid-20th century, Killian became one of the largest and most successful condom manufacturers in the U.S.
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.