American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


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USA Hosp. Dept. Bottles and Medical Tins

Civil War Era Bottles, Jars, and Tins

U. S. Army Hospital Department Medicine Bottles

Civil War Hosp. & Medical Dept. Medical Bottles

E. R. Squibb Medical Bottles and Japanned Tin Medical Containers

Hosp Dept Bottles & Tins collection: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

The medical bottles, medical tins, and medical glazed ceramic jars listed on this page are those which were produced for the Union Army during the Civil War by the U. S. A. Medical Department, it's purveyors, or the Hospital Department.  Identification and markings of various types of U.S.A. Hosp. Dept. bottles is discussed below and illustrated with photos. 

Army Medical and Hospital Departments Budgets

Medical material requisitioned by the medical staff during the Civil War and Materia Medica

E. R. Squibb was a provider of medicines to the Union medical Department during the Civil War.  The examples of Civil War era metal tins, which were painted black (Japanned), and have paper labels were used in the field or in kits to prevent breakage as would be more likely with glass containers.  The glazed ceramic (cream ware) medicine jar with original label marked for the U.S.A. Med. Dept. and the U.S.A. Laboratory for Quinine is typical for a container which would have been used in a hospital and not likely found in the field due to the possibly of breakage as would glass.

Hosp Dept Bottles & Tins collection: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Glass bottles embossed on the with:

 U.S.A Hosp. Dept.


Color variations for

U.S. Army Hosp. Dept. bottles



(The following notes are based on an article by Robert J. Dalessandro and Mike Russell posted on this site ( as well as other articles listed below and accessed via Google books.)

Bottle authority Mike Russell, has written widely on Civil War bottles (see references below).  Russell says his research indicates that Hospital Department bottles were mainly manufactured at factories in Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, the principal manufacturer was at Pittsburgh with the secondary manufacturer at the Baltimore Glass Works. 

Bottles blown at the Pittsburgh factory exhibit concave, slightly recessed, bases with a star design, initials, or a simple dot. Some bottles from this firm are seen with an iron pontil scar (a result of an older glassmaking technique that used a rod dipped in iron oxide to hold the bottle base during the manufacturing process).  Baltimore Glassworks examples are flat based and exhibit weak embossing.

Civil War period bottle embossing styles fall into several major types:

(1) Two Straight Lines; the top line is “U.S.A.” printed in raised letters.  The second line reads, “Hosp. Dept.”

(2) “U.S.A Hosp. Dept.” embossed in an oval.  In this pattern, the “U.S.A” curves along the top of the oval and “Hosp. Dept.” curves below.

(3) “United States Army Hospital Department” spelled out in a straight line.

(4) “U.S.A” arching over “Med’l Dept.” (This is the only style incorporating the abbreviation for USA Medical Department dating from the Civil War era.)

Numerous bottle colors exist.  The most common color is clear followed by aqua.  Rarer colors include cobalt, emerald green, apricot and dense purple or puce.

Hospital Department Bottles range in size from a 2 inches high oval shaped vial to a quart size 9 inch tall cylinder.  Neck styles vary from narrow openings to a wide mouth.  Data on color and sizes below: The Collector's Guide to Civil War Period Bottles and Jars, by Mike Russell, 1988.


 Click on images to enlarge

U.S.A. Hospital Department bottles embossed in an oval.  Dimensions:

Top: 7 1/2" tall, 2 3/4" wide at base, round shape cobalt blue color. 

Bottom: 5 3/4" tall oval shape cobalt blue color


U.S.A. Hospital Department in various colors.  Dimensions: 9-1/4" tall., 3 5/8" wide at base.  The embossing reads "U.S.A. HOSP. DEPT."  The bottle has an applied double roll collar and has a single line across the bottom.

U.S.A. Hospital Department bottles.  Dimensions: 6 1/4" tall, 2 3/8" at the base.  The oval embossing reads "U.S.A. HOSP. DEPT."


U. S. A. Med'l. Dept. aqua bottle, marked for the Army Medical Department.

Wide-mouth U.S.A. Hosp. Dept. bottles in various colors, especially blue and green, but any color including clear is wanted to purchase.

Examples of Civil War era metal tins which were painted black (Japanned) and have paper labels. 

The tins needed for this collection have the cork stoppers, or screw tops, (screw tops are later and were made into the post-Civil War period).

The cork stoppered tin's have paper labels, and are marked for 'Med. Dept' or the 'Purveyor's Depot'.  Examples are wanted with various medical and chemical names listed on the front.  Originally these containers had a 'paper' like material covering the cork and were held in place with twine around the neck of the container.

E. R. Squibb bottles marked on the shoulder of the bottle with "E.R. Squibb, with or without a ground glass stopper. 

"E. R. Squibb & Sons" is a later company and not what is needed for this collection.  I only want " E. R. Squibb", which was the name during the Civil War.

More information on E. R. Squibb

Glazed ceramic (cream ware) medicine jars with original label marked for the U.S.A. Med. Dept. and the U.S.A. Laboratory for Quinine.

These jars come with a large number of labels for various chemicals and drugs.  Here is a list of the type of drugs or chemicals that would be printed on the labels.


A list of drugs found on paper labels during the Civil War.  See an article for the Latin names

acetate lead


alcoholic extract of belladonna


aromatic spirit of ammonia

aromatic sulphuric acid

bicarbonate potassa

bicarbonate soda

blistering cerate

blue mass



carbonate ammonia

castor oil

cerate of cantharides

chlorate of potassa

chlorate potassa

chlorinated solution of soda

citrate iron and quinia

citrine ointment


compound cathartic pills

compound extract of colocynth



croton oil

Dover's powder

extract of belladonna

fluid extract cinchona (aromatic)

fluid extract ginger

fluid extract ipecac

fluid extract of aconite root

fluid extract of cinchona, aromatic

fluid extract of colchicum seed

fluid extract of ginger

fluid extract of ipecac

fluid extract seneka

Fowler's solution,

fused nitrate silver


ground cayenne pepper

Hoffman's anodyne

iodide of iron

iodide of potassium

iodide polassium



mercurial ointment,

mercury with chalk


nitrate of silver (crystals)


oil of turpentine

olive oil


permanganate of potassa

pills of camphor   

pills of compound extract of colocynth

pills of opium

pills of sulphate of quinia

powdered compound extract colcoynth.

powdered gum Arabic

powdered ipecac

powdered opium

powdered Rochelle salt

powdered squill

powdered subsulphate iron

powdered tartaric acid

pure chloroform

pure glycerin

purified chloroform

resin cerate

Rochelle salt, 16 oz.

simple cerate

solution chloride zinc

solution of ammonia

solution of chloride of zinc

solution of chlorinate of soda

solution of persulphate of iron.

spirit of nitrous ether

strong alcohol

stronger ether (for anaesthesia)

stronger ether

subnitrate bismuth

sulphate cinchona

sulphate magnesia

sulphate of copper

sulphate of morphia

sulphate of quinine

sulphate zinc

sweet spirit of nitre

syrup of squill

tannic acid

tartar emetic

tincture chloride of iron

tincture of opium


The Medical Staff and Materia Chirugica" from the Med. & Surgical History




 Echols' Collection of Civil War Medicine Containers


Various colors of U.S.A. Hosp. Dept. bottles


Archaeological finds confirm that Hospital Department bottles were commonly used in the field after 1863 and that they remained in use on the frontier until the 1870's.

The Hospital Department bottle was slowly replaced by one of similar design in the post-Civil War years. The more modern bottle employs various abbreviations of U.S. Army Medical Department. Medical Department bottles remained in issue until WWII and are easily distinguished from their Civil War cousins by the quality of the glass, more refined lip and a base often designating the bottle capacity. The colors of post-war bottles are more standard with dark brown/amber being the most frequently seen on the market



Post-Civil War Bottle Example

An excellent example of a post-Civil War U. S. Army Medical Department quart bottle with slugplate 'Quart' embossed at the bottom (Photo and bottle courtesy of Tim Henson)

See the following articles for detailed information, photos, and identification data:

The real thing: the bases of these bottles exhibit no pontil mark and are flat to slightly concave.  The star or SDS mark is also correct.

The bottles blown in Baltimore have a flat base, while those blown in Pittsburgh have a recessed concave base. This type of bottle design lasted through 1870.



A convincing repro of the USA HOSP DEPT bottle. The repro has a pontil base, while the original has a smooth base. And the repro has no periods in "USA"; the original has "U.S.A.".

Hosp Dept Bottles & Tins collection:  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


Medical Antiques Index

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques Index

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Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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 Arbittier Museum of Medical History Tour:   1 | 2 | 3


Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016