Collect a Piece of Johnson & Johnson History: BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages Tins!
It’s as iconic and familiar as a Coca-Cola bottle, Levi’s jeans or, well, JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder. From the Jazz Age to the 1990s, it was in virtually every American household and in many households around the world. After people finished the product, they kept the package and repurposed it for many other uses….and people still keep and collect them today. What is it? A BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin!
As readers of this blog know, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were invented in 1920 by a young employee, cotton buyer Earle Dickson. He combined two early Johnson & Johnson products to create something new, because he wanted to help his wife by making a pre-made bandage to treat her small kitchen injuries. Johnson & Johnson put Earle’s invention on the market in 1921. They were the first product of their kind – and were so new a concept that we had to demonstrate to people how to use them.
The first BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were packaged in cardboard boxes, but by about 1926, we began packaging them in beautifully decorated tins.
From the 1920s to the 1990s, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins could be found in medicine cabinets throughout the U.S. and in many parts of the world. Earle Dickson’s invention had become not only an essential first aid product, but part of pop culture as well. The product was even the subject of a popular and beloved Little Golden Book for children, Doctor Dan the Bandage Man.
Not only was the product iconic, so were the tins it came in. Once a BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin was empty, it was repurposed in probably a hundred different ways by every member of the family: holding small nails, screws and other hardware in workshops; storing small objects in kitchens; holding extra buttons and safety pins in sewing rooms; and organizing marbles, baseball cards and tiny toys in children’s rooms. BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins were such an integral part of the household that just the sight of the particular tin you grew up with instantly evokes memories of your childhood.
So here’s a quick primer on some of the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins that you might see or own:
1920s -- square tins: Before the product was manufactured pre-cut, it had to be cut exactly the way Earle Dickson invented it. In the 1920s, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins were square, and they had illustrated instructions on how to use the product printed on the inside of the lid!
1930s: Perhaps the most beautiful BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins were made during the 1930s. Beautifully decorated, with a sliding top, these tins are among the most prized by collectors, and are a personal favorite at Johnson & Johnson.
1940s and 1950s: BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins were plainer during this era, with a white background and red, black and grey letters. The packaging switched to cardboard for a few years during World War II, and then went back to the familiar tin with the hinged lid.
BAND-AID® Brand Stars ‘n Strips went on the market in 1956. Our first mass marketed decorated BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, they caused a sensation among children, who decorated every available inch of themselves with the product.
1960s: One of our most famous and collectible BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins is from the Mad Men era of the mid-1960s. It has an illustration of a woman in a sweater and pearls.
1970s: The 1970s saw the familiar red, white and blue BAND-AID® Brand tins, like the BAND-AID® Brand Plastic Strips tin above. For many readers, this tin instantly calls up childhood memories.
1980s -- 1990s: This era continued the red, white and blue tins, but also saw the introduction of glow in the dark and hot colors BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages with brightly colored tins.
So how popular do BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins remain? They still have a tremendous amount of fans and collectors – one collector mentioned to this blogger that he had about 500 of our vintage tins. But it doesn’t stop there: even though our consumer operating company hasn’t packaged BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages in tins since the 1990s, many consumers still bring their BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages home from the store, take them out of the cardboard package and (you guessed it!) put them into a vintage BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin! In recognition of the popularity and iconic status of the tins, our consumer folks have recently issued some limited edition BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages in tins.
Did you grow up with BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins in your house? Which tin did you grow up with? How did you and your family repurpose them? And which tins in this post are your favorites? Let me know in the comments section below!