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Early Suture Products

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By MargaretGurowitz
Jul 13, 2006


Sterile sutures were another of the earliest products of Johnson & Johnson.  These are some examples of early sterile sutures made by the Company, and include catgut, which was an absorbable suture, and silk sutures. 

Johnson & Johnson worked diligently to improve sterilization methods and make a variety of sterile sutures available. Many physicians at the time used ordinary sewing thread to close wounds, so the Company’s sterile sutures were a welcome innovation for doctors and patients.  An interesting sidelight of the Company’s suture business is dental floss, which was originally made from leftover suture silk.

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JULY 06, 2010 09:51 AM

In reply to by Talana Walls

Hi Talana,

Where did you find them? You didn't mention in your comment how old the glass vials of sutures were, but I am assuming that, since you're asking your question here, that they are historic early Johnson & Johnson suture products and they have no other use than just as a vintage collectible. I can't comment on any monetary value for the historic sutures, but I do know that many medical professionals collect things like that, so your best bet would be to check online auction sites like eBay or other online sites dealing with collectibles related to the history of health care.

Best Regards,


Sheryl Mount
APRIL 28, 2011 05:34 AM

I just got as a Xmas gift last year of December 25th 2010 a very old and beaten up Black metal Medicine chest with the Johnson and Johnson logo on it
When open the lid as it is a metal flip lid, there is 3 drawers with simple handles and a side compartment. It is is old bandages. Tounge depressors. Splint wooden. Qtips wooden. A old metal ASA tin. Glass Bottle with cork seal of Iodine . and Peroxide. I Medicine glass. My Favorite item is a black leather pouch that folds over and snaps shut . on it in gold says Johnson and Johnson Sutures. When you open it , it is with all the suture vials intact with the writing on them and sutures with needles inside still with the alcohol they where sealed with in the vial. The thread reads fine silk or cat gut as well on different vials.

APRIL 28, 2011 09:53 AM


It sounds like you have a very old (circa 1900-1920) Johnson & Johnson industrial First Aid Kit. The kits consisted of a large black metal case with a variety of contents that could be refilled as needed. Those kits were designed to be used in workplaces and manufacturing facilities. Those kits would have contained a more comprehensive range of products to treat injuries, as yours does.

What a wonderful gift to receive!


DECEMBER 20, 2011 02:20 PM

My sona nd daughter were treasure hunting outside in the yard. They found a vial that reads Johnson & JOhnson 1 E catgut No. 1 Medium hard chrome (10 to 20 day) with needle. The vial is still seal. Can someone tell me more about it? Thanks

DECEMBER 20, 2011 05:27 PM

In reply to by Jane

Hi Jane,

Wow -- what a find from treasure hunting in the backyard! Without seeing a picture of the vial, it's hard to give you an exact date, but your children found a very early Johnson & Johnson suture, from a date range of potentially 100 years old to over 60 years old. (If you send me a photo through the blog's mailbox, I could probably date it more precisely. The email address is: Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886 to make the first mass produced sterile surgical dressings and sterile sutures. Before that, surgery wasn't sterile, and the products like the one your children found helped change that and increase patient surgical survival rates. Here's the link to a post on how the founders of Johnson & Johnson built on the work of Sir Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur to make mass produced products for surgeons to do sterile surgery: Here's another post about our early sterile manufacturing, which was largely managed and done by women employees over 100 years ago. Incidentally, Johnson & Johnson employed nine glassblowers on site to make the glass vials for the sutures.

Best Regards,


DECEMBER 29, 2011 02:41 AM

Hi Margaret love the site and all the history available! Thank you! Also curious if you happened to know the year on a Catgut No. 0 Johnson and Johnson glass vial? Thanks again for a great site-Ann

JANUARY 03, 2012 11:29 AM

In reply to by Ann

Hi Ann, glad you like the blog! I would be happy to give you some more information, but without seeing an image of your early suture glass vial, it would be difficult to pinpoint when it's from. Can you send me a photo through the blog's mailbox?