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!
Thanks for an excellent article.
I worked in the Plaster Mill at ESDP during the 1970's. We had two tinner machines, of J&J design, which packed all of the one-size tinware put-ups. Strips were put in metal magazines on the Adhesive Bandage machines, and the magazines (which held about 500 strips each) were transported to the tinners, where the strips were counted out and inserted into the tins by the machines. It would be interesting if anyone could put their hands on some to the video tapes which we made in that era for training of the machine operators and mechanics.
Variety put-ups, containing multiple sizes of strips, were all packed by hand.
The tins themselves were only make by one manufacturer, either Continental Can or American Can - I'm not sure which - and the packaging cost more than the contents in some put-ups. The economics strongly favored either cardboard or plastic containers but brand management was highly averse to taking any risks with the Band-Aid brand. Analysis was still going on when I moved the the Corporate computer center in the late 1970's. The front runner was a plastic container very similar to the one that was finally adopted (I don't know exactly when that happened.) with the characteristics that made it "look and feel" like the tins. The lid had to audibly "snap" when it closed, and the presence of a "chine" - the little ridge around the bottom where the seam is on tinware - was essential.
Thanks for the memories and the photos!
I remember the metal tin of the '70s, but also have several of the "plastic tins" that came a little later. I kept one in my office for years as a holder for my most referred to business cards!
I grew up with the 70's red, white and blue tins, with which my Dad would use after the Band-Aid's were used, for his shop. He would store different types of screws, fixtures, nuts and bolts, and the like for organizing his work bench. After he passed, I was cleaning up his work bench and they were a familiar reminder of our past.
We used the metal tins to hold crayons when we were little. They held up much longer that the cardboard box that the crayons came in.
A remarkable product, a Classic from the beginnings, love this article, loved the tin cans style, it was a great holding tin for the metal "Mattel" cars we had. Pure Classic. Thanks.
I love my Band-Aid tin. One of the first things I did after I got married in the 70's was to buy the Band-Aids in the tin. Later, I also bought a Band-Aid first aid kit in plastic. I was so sad when I wasn't able to find the Band aid tin in the store anymore. I would like to buy some for my grown children. How can I buy one of the limited edition tins?
In reply to by Sarah Anderson
I love the tins too! And what a great idea to buy them for your grown children! I took a quick look online, and it doesn’t look like the designer is still selling them on her site (the limited edition came out in 2010), but some of the online auction sites have the limited edition tins, and you should be able to find them there. If you do a search on “Cynthia Rowley BAND-AID® tin,” that should give you some leads on some of the tins that are for sale.
Best of luck in your search!
Hello Margaret, I am located at the Distribution Center in Lititz PA. I have a magazine ad from possibly the 1940's - 1950's based on the pictures of the Band Aid tin over the years on your blog. It is a full page ad with a picture of a little boy putting a putting a bandage on a little girl's knee and the caption says "Mommy always says you're safe when you use Johnson and Johonson". I found this at a flea market and framed it for my office. The graphics are beautiful!
I also have an ad for Listerine titled "Her honeymoon and it should have been Mine" with emphasis on Her and Mine. I believe this one is from maybe the 1920's.
In reply to by Cathy Koller
If the image in your ad with the little boy bandaging a girl’s knee is a painting, you have one of the Gladys Rockmore Davis ads. She was a well known painter who did a series of paintings specifically for these ads. The LISTERINE® ad sounds great too! Those ads (decades before the brand joined the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies) were part of some very famous ad campaigns.
I looked closer at the ad and it has the initials GRD in the bottom right hand corner. Under the picture it says "For a free reproduction of this painting write to Johnson and Johnson Box 1006 Dept C New Brunswick NJ". So there must have been some kind of giveaway. Very neat to learn some history about this ad. My mother had given me the Listerine ad, (she was an antiques dealer for many years) but I found the BandAid ad after we were acquired by Johnson and Johnson.
I was born in 1947 and when I was a child we always has the Band-Aids in Tins. In We lived in Europe( 1954-57,60-62) and Africa (63-67) when I was growing up and we always took a lot of tins with us. In fact, when we were in Mali we ordered lots of things that were not available on the local market and one of those items was BandAids by the case. One case of the single size and one case of the multi-size and shaped Band-Aids. Oh also always had a tin or travel size in the tioletry travel kit.
I would love to buy the band-aids in the tins - I don't see them in the J&J on-line store - where can we buy them??? I grew up with the tins and you are exactly right - they were all over our house holding all kinds of things. I find them so USEFUL!!
In reply to by Susan Alston
The decorated BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages are still offered for sale on Cynthia Rowley’s website, but it looks as if they are now in the cardboard packaging. However, you can still find historical and vintage BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tins for sale on a variety of sites on the internet. I will pass your message to the brand folks to see if there are plans for other limited edition tins in the future!
I have a Band-Aid tin that I can't seem to find any information on. The whole tin is a painting of a little girl putting a bandage on her knee with two Daschund's by her side. The painting is called "Best Friends" and is by what looks like David Ranson, it also states that it is tin #2 in a limited edition series of collector tins. I would say it is from the 80's but I'm not sure. Do you know anything about this tin?
I don't have any information about that tin, but it sounds intriguing! If you can send me a picture of your tin through the blog's email, I will see if we have any information on it! The email is: email@example.com
I still have a band aid tin, although the cover is missing. I also buy the boxed bandages from the store and put them in my tin. Its the right thing to keep them in!!!
I LOVE MY TINS, I HAVE ONE JOHNSON & JOHNSON TIN, I HAVE HAD FOR YEARS. TO BAD THEY QUIT MAKING THEM. WHEN I BY BANDAIDS I PLACE THEM IN MY TINS!! MARCH 5TH 2015
I sure miss the tins. I would buy several cases of them if they brought them back. Definitely a shame. I used to have one about15 years ago. That got lost when my fiancee broke up with me.
Have a Bandaid@ tin sitting on my brick from Kilmer House right next to the lexan cube with a miniature Daytime Diaper carton in it.
Sorry my keyboard doesn't have the "registered" symbol; did the best I could. Hopefully, the ghost of Dave Clare doesn't come to haunt me.
Hi, I have a tin that used to belong to my grandmother. Whenever I'd need a patch job that tin would come down off the shelf. On it is a image of a boy sitting down putting a bandaid on his knee with a black dog beside him. Entitled "A friend in need" by David Ranson. (#1 in a limited edition series of collectors tins). I still turn to that tin when a small patch is required. I was wondering if you had any information on this tin. I have had no luck finding anything myself.
In reply to by Adam
Thanks for sharing your story! I'm not familiar with that tin and unfortunately, don't have any information on it. Can you send me a photo of the tin through the blog's email at firstname.lastname@example.org?
For 3 summers during college I worked at J and J packing band aids. The summer of '57 was at the old building downtown New Brunswick. The folowing 2 summers were at the new buiding on RT. 1 in No. Brunswick. All the women worn uniforms and worked piece meal. I did speak to the male supervisors, who sat in half-glassed window walls watching the women speed along, about how unfairly the women were treated.
After graduation I was approached about a job, whch would be one of the first woman supervisors at J and J. I told them I was planning on getting married and I was told I could NOT be married and hold that position.
WOW, how the world has changed!!!
In reply to by Barbara
Thanks for sharing your story! The world has definitely changed since the 1950s! Johnson & Johnson had an early tradition of women department supervisors. In 1908, eight out of 36 department supervisors at Johnson & Johnson were women, and they managed some key manufacturing areas, including our sterile surgical products manufacturing. Here's more information if you're interested in learning about them: http://www.kilmerhouse.com/2008/11/1908-women-at-johnson-johnson/ and http://www.kilmerhouse.com/2015/04/know-your-value-and-our-heritage-of-empowering-women/
I have a tin can from 1969,with a Boy and a Dog on it can you tell me a little about it Please.
In reply to by Micheal W Jackson
Without seeing the tin, it would be difficult to provide any information. Can you send me some photos through the blog's email? email@example.com
Here's hoping I got all this info correct below. Sent to my family this morning. Vanessa Luce
As most of you know, I was an antique dealer for twelve years and learned many things about the things “we humans” used daily for years. It was a great time for me because every day I found out something interesting and new .
Metal BAND-AID boxes were started in the USA in 1989, 26 years ago.
A good collectible.
Derek what item were we seeking when you went with me on one of my “Antique Journeys”? That’s been a few years ago.
In reply to by Vanessa Luce
Happy to provide the history of something in generations of homes! Actually, the first metal BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages date from 1926 -- much earlier. The first metal containers were the flat, square tins, like the 1927 BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin shown in this post.
Still a great company, today! Vanessa/Oma
I have a Band Aid tin greyish colour with Band -Aid emergency dressings
on the front.It has one shilling on bottom right (1/-)
I have not seen anything similar on the 'net
In reply to by Jim Jack
Sounds interesting! Without seeing a photo of your BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin, it would be hard to provide any information. Can you email me some photos through the blog's email? It's firstname.lastname@example.org
i have a tin that says "A friend in need" by:David E Banson
#1 in limited editionseries of collector's tins. my wife has had it since she was a kid,she is 45yrs old now, wanted to know if you could shed some light on it please. tin has a photo of a boy with a dog next to him as he puts on a bandage
Leona and Richardo.
In reply to by Richardo
If you could send me some photos of your tin, I would be happy to take a look at it to see if we have any information in the archives. If you can take a few quick photos of the front and back of the tin and send them to me at email@example.com, I will take a look and let you know.
I appreciate this information as I'm a collector who gives Advertising Tin programs. I'm glad to get a better idea of the dates of some of my 210+ J&J tins. I especially like telling about the tins with the red cross on them. Thank you.
I have a square tin with 25 cents and pat Dec 28, 1926. it has the original brochure in it as well as the original bandaid sheaths wrapped in wax paper. have never seen one like this with everything in it.I love it.Bought it at a flea market 30 years ago for a dollar or two.
I have 67 different BAND-AID tins and I am still interested in finding out how many different ones were made. I started collecting them about 15 years ago and when I find one I don't already have...it is a good day.
how much would one empty Band-Aid Mercurochrome Tin cost from back in the 1930’s?
In reply to how much would one empty… by Anonymous
That would depend on the condition of the tin. I don’t have any information on valuing your vintage BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages with mercurochrome tin, but your best bet would for assessing its value would be to check similar items on online auction sites and with antique dealers.
When I was a wee boy growing up in Glasgow I cut my finger.After my mum used a plaster (that's what they called in Scotland) I changed the dressing all the time on purpose till ther was none left so I could get the tin.Loved that tin.Wonder what happened to it.Please bring them back.Wonderful Xmas presents they would make.
Bought my first box of Band-Aids in a long time didn’t know they didn’t come in a tin box Anymore so I guess it’s been longer than I thought I’m 63
Found an interesting J&J Band-Aid box recently that I'd never seen before. It is the size of a regular tin, but is made of cardboard with a overlapping flip top lid (sort of like a hardpack of cigarettes, but doubled). There is no date, and there is no zip code or postal zone shown in the J&J address, so.... early 50s? The box touts a "Sulfathiazole Pad" on the bandage and there is a hand-written '23' (the original price?). I'll send some photos to your email address, but do you have any idea when and for how long these were available? I can't find any information on it or other example at all on the interweb.
In reply to Found an interesting J&J… by Anonymous
Bob, thanks for reaching out about your BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages package. From your description, it sounds like a WWII era package, since the brand went to cardboard packaging for a few years beginning in 1942. If you send me a picture through the blog's mailbox, firstname.lastname@example.org, I can give you more detail.
I have a 40 or 50 year old Johnson & Johnson band aid box with Band-Aids in it. Was wondering if it was worth anything??
In reply to I have a 40 or 50 year old… by Anonymous
Jennifer, thanks for reaching out about your vintage tin. We don't have any way of assessing value for it.
Is the 1989 band aid tin container worth anything?
In reply to Is the 1989 band aid tin… by Anonymous
Mary, thanks for reaching out about your vintage 1989 BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin. We don't have any way of assessing the value of your artifact.