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Author Topic: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)  (Read 54601 times)

Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2014, 07:41:21 AM »

A Google image search for vintage or antique brilliantine bottle shows that "brilliantine" was produced by everybody and their brother pretty much, in a wide range of bottle sizes and styles and was even sold in ointment pots (in gel form).
Nice research, Doug.  I had not realized, prior to your mentioning it, that brilliantine is not a proper noun. It would seem Brilliantine was not a trademark but rather a common noun defined as any "scented oil used on men's hair to make it look glossy."  Brilliantine, therefore, was most likely not a name that could be trademarked as the special brand of a single producer.

Obviously the usage of the word Brilliantine on the co-op store inventory list can't be taken to indicate any specific producer and may be nothing more than just a generic reference to a period hair tonic.
While specific product brands e.g., Emu Tobacco, Capstan Tobacco, and Cabin Biscuits do appear to be mentioned in the inventory of 'goods in hand at the Co-op Store in 1939 on Nikumaroro, Brilliantine, which is also listed in the inventory, would not seem to indicate any easily identifiable bottle to which we could compare the artifact 2-8-S-2a.  Identifying X2-98 as Gallagher's bottle of Brilliantine would appear to be as great a challenge as saying Earhart's bottle was Campana Italian Balm.

Current ebay posting seems to be a similar bottle to the artifact, other than base stamping:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/X2-98-Vintage-Ideal-Hair-Dresser-And-Tonic-Bottle-RARE-/221278942476?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item338540b50c
We don't know for sure this artifact was Campana Italian Balm. We don't know for sure this artifact was Amelia Earhart's. The best we can do is look for the most probable match we can find (so far that's Campana Italian Balm) and use the archaeological record of its surroundings (its context) to formulate an hypothesis of how and why this bottle came to rest where it did.

This task is more difficult than one may suppose.  In terms of researching this artifact's identity, we used 3 criteria:
1) Does the candidate for a match share the artifact bottle fragment's shape and design.
2) Does the candidate for a match share the same base stamp, including placement of mold number, date code, plant code, and Owens-Illinois trademark.
3) Does the candidate for a match share similarities in chemical profile of its contents to that of the artifact (assessed using FTIR spectral results from an ISO-accredited lab).

The Brilliantine bottle in the eBay auction you listed appears to satisfy criteria 1 and 2.  Criteria 3 is the most difficult to satisfy and it can also be the most revealing but it also poses the most challenges in interpreting the results.  Remarkably, I find that some formulations (here , and here) of Brilliantine did contain a key ingredient, Tragacanth Gum, which was detected as a 'good' match to a remnant on the artifact's interior. (Tragacanth was also on an ingredients list for Campana Italian Balm, and it was detected by FTIR on an authentic bottle of Campana Italian Balm as well).  These Brilliantine formulations, however, appear to be for "sticks" and "pastes" that did not pour well from bottles with a narrow finish (as the artifact had) but rather were usually put up in "squatty wide-mouthed bottles of about 2-ounce capacity." (quoted from link above)  Moreover, we know of no actual product that used these formulations and even if we did, the product would need to be in the exact same type of "imperial oblong" bottle, of which the artifact bottle fragment is an example.

Here is where the challenge begins.  To say with confidence that a current eBay posting for X2-98 vintage hair dresser is truly a "similar" bottle to the artifact, as you do say above, we would need to obtain a bottle of X2-98 exactly like the one pictured.  The bottle would need to have Tragacanth on its interior surface that separated (in the form of tiny reddish brown spots) from the overall product by the same processes of evaporation and decomposition that occurred over time on the glass fragment found at the Seven Site on Nikumaroro.  Then, in order to exceed the likeness of the chemical comparisons made between an actual Campana Italian Balm bottle and the artifact bottle, additional remnant materials would also need to compare favorably by FTIR analysis and interpretation.  (We were unable to find chemical similarities on all of the remnants found on the surface of the glass on the artifact, although we believe there are logical reasons why this would not necessarily have been expected.)

Does X2-98 deserve this test?  Certainly.  But it's frightfully expensive and the cost is the same whether the results come out as you expect them to or whether they don't.  I've put up a significant amount of time and resource on this artifact.  However, no individual has ever come forward who was willing to test these bottles on their own initiative.  A few years ago, a researcher brought me a bottle of Skat Insect Repellent with the same base stamp and shape as the artifact.  The critics howled I was unwilling to test it because I was afraid of what it might reveal.  So I did test it, on my own dime and posted the lab results, showing Skat had no possible chemical resemblance.  Scientifically, I see the merit of testing each and every bottle that has even a 1% chance of matching the artifact.  However, at some point, I need to admit candidly, I simply can't afford to do that.  Perhaps you can, and if so, hat's off to you and congratulations.  I can refer you to the scientist who will test it if you're willing to put it to the test.  If it comes out X2-98 had Tragacanth, I'll modify all prior hypotheses I advanced on the artifact's identity and say that X2-98, a men's hair tonic, could, yes indeed, have also been a match to the artifact bottle fragment.

We've discussed this artifact at length since the research bulletin on this topic came out.  We've re-evaluated things such as when we think it was made and new information has come to light.  (For one, our bottle research guru Bill Lockhart believes the dating of this piece is not so straightforward as it once appeared.)  The bulletin needs an update and at some point we need to provide a more nuanced synthesis of everything we've learned and what still puzzles us.  This will take time but I'd like at some point to do it.  At this point I just don't know when.

I hope this rather extended reply, on a topic of which I've become admittedly "invested,"  does not come across as overly confrontational.  I love the bottle and appreciate the research and hope you will keep looking and commenting.

Joe Cerniglia
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2014, 08:09:15 AM »

Joe brings up a valid point, and one oft repeated here (by me anyway):

"Questions are cheap. Answers are expensive."

Just howling that "we didn't test this" or "we should have tested that" has no merit, to me. If you think whatever the "it" is will produce some useful information towards the overall search, then by all means, feel free to put your money where your mouth is, as I have done a time or two.

Otherwise, it's just ... talk, basically. And talk is cheap. Answers are ... well, you know the rest.

LTM, who thinks dry paint is really interesting right now,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 ECSP
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Doug Ledlie

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2014, 09:03:02 PM »

Wow...I was just trying to clarify a seeming inaccuracy up-thread on the nature of "brilliantine" so shared what a google search came up with.  The ebay link with a visually similar bottle just happened to come up in that search and was current so seemed like an interesting thing to post.
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Mark Pearce

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2014, 10:43:45 PM »


If it comes out X2-98 had Tragacanth, I'll modify all prior hypotheses I advanced on the artifact's identity and say that X2-98, a men's hair tonic, could, yes indeed, have also been a match to the artifact bottle fragment.


Gum Tragacanth does turn up as a hair lotion ingredient of the 1940s.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GUM TRAGACANTH

This is commonly used not only for setting lotions for ladies  but also for fixative lotions for men. The following is an example of its use for the former.

Gum tragacanth     1.2g
Alcohol...                15g
Glycerine...               2g
Water...                  83g
Preservative...         q.s.


http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015048407954;view=1up;seq=272

Modern Cosmeticology; The Principles and Practice of Modern Cosmetics,
by Ralph G. Harry, Chemical Publishing Co., 1940.
-----------------------------------------

"[Gum tragacanth] enters into the composition of  numerous other toilet preparations such as emollient skin creams and lotions, nail polishes, shaving lotions, toilet milks, dental creams, depilatories and permanent wave fixers. As a binding agent it may be used in much the same way as gum arabic and is the basis of greaseless creams and hair fixatives now so popular."

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015011436832;view=1up;seq=41

Vegetable Gums and Resins.
Waltham, Mass. : Chronica Botanica Co., 1949.
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2014, 09:01:50 AM »

Interesting tidbits, Mark, but we're concerned with the 1937 time frame. Was the substance in question used in 1937 as well as the 1940s? Your research as moved it from the "dunno" to the "maybe" category. As always, we're going to have to find more documentation to be definitive.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 ECSP
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2014, 09:40:34 AM »

True indeed, Monty, and succinctly stated.

I've been wondering as I consider the questions about 2-8-S-2a whether there is in fact a lower standard of proof for those who seek to disverify an hypothesis than there is for those who would seek to verify it.  I ask it as a purely philosophical question, not entirely sure of what the answer ought to be.  I've been arguing that those who say there could have been a men's hair tonic with Tragacanth in that style of bottle should produce such a bottle and then test it, that the best evidence is still what has been tested and produced.  The artifact fragment correlates in style, in base stamp and chemical profile to Campana Italian Balm to a sufficient degree to say that evidence is compelling.  It's not the only evidence, and we never said it was.  It's just the best we have now. 

I wonder also why those who would disverify (and theirs is an honorable task for sure) don't take up the challenge.  I'm not aiming this at any one person, but surely the chance to provide scientific basis for doubt of what we "think" might be true is incentive enough for action.  It would come across less as negativism and more as objective fact-finding.  But where is the burden of proof?  Who has it, and can it, in any rational sense, be shared?  And regarding this bottle, is it all a moot point...Can one ever prove that 2-8-S-2a was one thing and couldn't possibly be any other thing, or is it all just a probability game whose merit lodges in collective opinion.  And what are the implications for the quest as a whole...

Joe Cerniglia
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 05:24:12 PM by Joe Cerniglia »
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2014, 10:01:06 AM »

I've been arguing that those who say there could have been a men's hair tonic with Tragacanth in that style of bottle should produce such a bottle and then test it, that the best evidence is still what has been tested and produced. 

What Joe said. Finding evidence that supports a different hypothesis is fine, the more the merrier, I say. But ... finding evidence and then quantifying exactly what that evidence supports, by testing for chemical residues, say, validates the evidence. Otherwise, it's just more, um, stuff thrown against the wall.

Talk is cheap. Answers are expensive. I firmly believe that The People will find Amelia and Fred. Joe and I are just two of the group that has made a conscious decision to put our money where our mouths are. More such participants are always welcomed with open arms (and perhaps even by a Godawful song by that Gillespie character).

LTM, who finds dry paint really, really interesting right now,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 ECSP
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Jennifer Hubbard

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2014, 08:41:57 PM »

On questions of burden of proof, here's how I think of it:

With any artifact, we look at what we know about it, and whether each of those facts is consistent with AE/FN, or whether it excludes an association with AE/FN. If it is consistent with, we look at how many factors are consistent, how strongly consistent, how plausible the connection is, how many other possibilities there are, and how plausible the other possibilities are.

Just as a hypothetical example, if we were to find a bottle with a label on it for a brand of something that was never produced until 1949, we exclude AE/FN with high confidence. But if that brand was produced from 1931-1960, then AE/FN is possible, but other sources are also possible. If there is historical evidence establishing that AE/FN used that brand of material, the association is strengthened. If other people who were on Niku from 1931-1960 would have had an extremely hard time getting their hands on that brand, the AE/FN association is further strengthened. But if it was an extremely common brand that plenty of others could have plausibly brought there during that time, the association is weakened.

When other possibilities are raised in the evaluation of any artifact, they will each have their own weight of evidence: physical data and historical documentation being among the strongest. Possibilities that are not supported by evidence can be useful in brainstorming and in testing the confidence of our tentative conclusions, if nothing else. But if they don't have physical or historical records behind them, their usefulness will be limited.

Any scientist will acknowledge uncertainties ... but not all uncertainties are equal, and not all possibilities have to be given equal weight. And I don't get the impression that every commenter on the forum intends for every suggestion to receive equal weight. Some of it seems to be, "Here's a piece of info / here's an idea; could this be useful?"
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Mark Pearce

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2014, 10:30:00 PM »


Interesting tidbits, Mark, but we're concerned with the 1937 time frame. Was the substance in question used in 1937 as well as the 1940s? Your research as moved it from the "dunno" to the "maybe" category. As always, we're going to have to find more documentation to be definitive.


Follow the link below to "Modern Cosmetics...", published in 1934.  Gum Tragacanth, or simply tragacanth can be found listed on 27 pages.  It's interesting to see it included in an after-shave lotion formula, [page 162]. 

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt/search?q1=tragacanth&id=mdp.39015037504902&view=1up&seq=144
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Doug Ledlie

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2014, 05:37:44 AM »

A round of applause for what Jennifer said...

Have been working with my daughter to try to get her through her high school math class and one of the topics recently was graphing.  One of the specific sections dealt with "scatter graphs" and I see the points that are raised in the forum being analogous to that type of graph.  ie there will be points out in left field that will ultimately have little or no influence on the final line plot even though they may be valid data points.  Point being that the ideas that may appear extraneous should not necessarily be beaten down right from the get-go.

To continue the scatter graph analogy, I guess some of us try to find a valid path through the data while others start with an assumed line and work backwards.

Just observing, not passing judgement on relative validity of either approach to the same goal.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 05:52:40 AM by Doug Ledlie »
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Mark Pearce

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2014, 12:03:53 PM »


Just as a hypothetical example, if we were to find a bottle with a label on it for a brand of something that was never produced until 1949, we exclude AE/FN with high confidence. But if that brand was produced from 1931-1960, then AE/FN is possible, but other sources are also possible. If there is historical evidence establishing that AE/FN used that brand of material, the association is strengthened. If other people who were on Niku from 1931-1960 would have had an extremely hard time getting their hands on that brand, the AE/FN association is further strengthened. But if it was an extremely common brand that plenty of others could have plausibly brought there during that time, the association is weakened.

When other possibilities are raised in the evaluation of any artifact, they will each have their own weight of evidence: physical data and historical documentation being among the strongest. Possibilities that are not supported by evidence can be useful in brainstorming and in testing the confidence of our tentative conclusions, if nothing else. But if they don't have physical or historical records behind them, their usefulness will be limited.

Any scientist will acknowledge uncertainties ... but not all uncertainties are equal, and not all possibilities have to be given equal weight. And I don't get the impression that every commenter on the forum intends for every suggestion to receive equal weight. Some of it seems to be, "Here's a piece of info / here's an idea; could this be useful?"

Yes, hats off to Jennifer-

Here's a piece of info / here's an idea - according to the web-page linked below, Skat insect repellent was produced in a 'cream' formula before the more common liquid form appeared in WW2.  Maybe this formula included Gum Tragacanth.

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/173482-rare-1oz-skat-insect-repellent-for-early-was-aid-kits/

"Very hard to find original 1oz Skat insect repellent. These are early war and were found in the early M1 Jungle first aid kit and were also issued individually."

"Wear to labels but are sound and full of contents. These early ones were a creme as opposed to the later type which are the liquid."





« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 01:36:26 PM by Mark Pearce »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #26 on: May 12, 2014, 05:47:56 PM »

Does Niku/Gardner have annoying flying insects?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2014, 07:36:31 PM »

A couple more SKAT-related things:

(from This Wikipedia entry: "The Skol Company produced Skol antiseptic for sunburn[1] and Skol sunglasses[2] from the 1920s[3] through the mid-1940s. Based in New York,[4] their products were available in the United States and Canada.[5] George Gallowhur was president of the business.[4] He developed Skol suntan lotion in the Austrian Alps in the 1920s. He also introduced Skat insect repellent.[3]" (the reference sited is an obituary:  George Gallowhur, 69, Dies; Founder of Skol Company, New York Times, March 5, 1974, pg. 36.)
The date of SKAT introduction is ambiguous from this particular Wikipedia entry.  Perhaps someone with a faster connection than my dial-up can access the obituary for more details?

An E-how hHistory of Insect Repellents includes the following: "According to the University of Florida, several chemical insect repellents were patented in the 1920s and 1930s, including dymethyl phtalate in 1929, indalone in 1937 and Rutgers 612 in 1939. These active ingredients seldom appear in modern insect repellents.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/facts_7177897_history-insect-repellents.html#ixzz31YTvVFdL"

I was unable to find a patent for SKAT, hoping to find a list of ingredients and a date.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2014, 07:47:46 PM »

Does Niku/Gardner have annoying flying insects?

No.
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research Bulletin #62: Lotion Bottle (Artifact 2-8-S-2a)
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2014, 08:01:48 PM »

Here's a piece of info / here's an idea - according to the web-page linked below, Skat insect repellent was produced in a 'cream' formula before the more common liquid form appeared in WW2.  Maybe this formula included Gum Tragacanth.
Nice work, Mark.  It appears you have come across the 6:2:2 formula of insect repellent.  We discuss it and indalone as an ingredient in this wartime formulation of Skat here.  We'd need to test to be sure, but documentation we looked at showed dimethyl phthalate, indalone, and Rutgers 612.  No Tragacanth is in this formulation so far as is known.

It would be nice if we had a bottle of this formulation in the actual style of bottle that was found on Niku.  The bottles pictured don't look at all like the Niku bottle fragment.  As you quoted from Jennifer, "Any scientist will acknowledge uncertainties," and I'm sure you will acknowledge that's one.

I feel it's only fair to point out that you've utilized a straw man here.  No one, including myself, ever claimed Tragacanth was limited only to women's personal care products.  It has been suggested, however, quite truthfully that we have no other product, yet, with that style and that base stamp that has been lab-tested as containing Tragacanth.  Saying repeatedly what could be true is not a good substitute for what has actually been tested as true, and it argues against a point that has not been made, namely, that Campana Italian Balm is the only possible solution to the riddle of that artifact's identity. 

Joe Cerniglia
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« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 04:33:28 AM by Joe Cerniglia »
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