Museum Homepage

The San Mateo County Historical Association
Online Collections Database

The mission of the San Mateo County Historical Association is to inspire wonder and discovery
of the cultural and natural history of San Mateo County.

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 1999.048.054
Description Dr Cumming's Vegetine Medicine Bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c. 1876-1910. Bottle has a .375 inch bulbous rim with a double ring finish. A banner that outlines the name "DR CUMMING'S VEGETINE " impressed in the front of bottle. A .75 inch short and narrow neck flares out 1.5 inches shoulders to a 4.75 inch oval body. The bottle is colorless glass and shows evidence of glass machine manufacture.
Object Name Bottle, Medicine
Collection 3D - Containers
Title Dr Cumming's Vegetine Medicine Bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c. 1876-1910 .
Date c. 1876-1910
Creator H. R. Stevens Co.
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text "DR CUMMING'S VEGETINE" (embossed on the shoulder of bottle).
Provenance 20 boxes of archaeological material excavated from the City Centre Plaza site at 950 Main at Middlefield in Redwood City. Excavation for development, done by Basin Research Associates.
Notes Vegetine, "an Indian Remedy," was developed in 1851 by a Dr. Cummings who lived in the Boston area. At that time Henry R. Stevens was in the shipping business in Boston. By 1871 Stevens was the sole proprietor of Vegetine.

Probably the most popular "type" of druggist/prescription bottle styles were the "oval" type bottles. These bottles vary in actual cross-section shape but are always rounded on one or more sides and/or the corners. Beyond that, the shapes vary widely with some being rounded or flattened on both the front and back or even all sides, but with rounded corners as the binding feature if the cross-section shape is somewhat rectangular. (The rectangular shape discussed above has both flattened sides and corners.) The most common oval style druggist bottles with a flattened front panel (for a plate) with the sides and back being rounded together with no obvious break between them were known by most bottle makers as the "Philadelphia Oval".
Most all companies that produced druggist bottles also offered what was possibly the most common style of druggist bottle made from at least 1876 through the 1910s. If any one shape is the "standard" oval bottle it is this style which had a gently rounded back merging smoothly into the more abruptly rounded sides with a flat front panel which most often contained a plate slot for proprietary embossing plates . This style seems to have originated in the mid 1870s right around the time of the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia which may be responsible for the name, though that has not been confirmed.

Dimensions H-9.75 W-3.75 D-1.875 inches
Search Terms Archaeology
City Center Plaza
Drug Stores
H.R. Stevens & Company
Redwood City
Subjects Bottle industry