Can anyone tell me when this was most likely made? Any history at all would be appreciated. Thanks.
Betting it's WW I vintage....
WWI Look up "mustard gas" on Wikipedia for background.
But why would they take the time to stencil "EMPTY"
Thanks lazygardens! I was wondering the same thing myself. Something just seems peculiar about that.
That they would bother to stencil "Empty" makes it look like government issue... :/
I'm guessing that the number in the first line of the stencil is a part number for the box alone, therefore the phrase, empty box, is a clarification. The box, when fully stocked, gets a new or revised part number. Both empty and fully stocked boxes appears alike and need markings for quartermaster purposes.
Don't assume that it's as old as WWI. Even though there are treaties banning gas attacks, troops still carry gas masks and medical supplies to treat gas exposures because in war times you can't assume everyone plays by the rules. People have been gassed in the last decade.
Also, Wooden boxing was still quite common as late as the early 1970s and possibly later, because my father and husband were both Vietnam veterans and I remember it because I was a military brat and our life got packed into wooden boxes and crates with great regularity......but that's when I lost track of military life.
I was basing my estimate on the style of the locks, and the fact that the strap, presumably leather appears to have rotted away and the general appearance of age to the box.
Thanks for the info everyone!
Oh, I wasn't commenting on what you said, Linda because it very well could date back that far.....I'm just suggesting that one not automatically associate a gas treatment kit with WWI since that particular war saw so many casualties of that form of weapon. It would be an easy leap to make and when you are trying to date old items, you don't want to automatically discount other possibilities. I have plenty of WWII paraphernalia with leather straps, as well. It wasn't uncommon material for a later era, until synthetic materials went mainstream. I agree, the locks do look old.
look at the jungle and artic kits from WWII on this site. Wooden with wooden interiors and leather strapping. The latches are not visible. Like said, OP's box could be anytime before, but still existed in that form a long time after WWI.
Here is a link that might be useful: US Medical research center
Great link calliope. Thank you very much.
This thread has certainly brought back memories to me. From 1966 till 1974 I served in the Air Force as a Warehouse Management Specialist/ supervisor. For the most part I served in Base Supply, which handles all general supplies on the installation, but I also served short periods as a Warehouseman in both Medical Supply (Hospital) and Munition Supply (Bomb Dump).
Although I cannot give a finite answer to the original question, how old that box is, I think I can offer some points of clarification for both the age of the box and the unusual markings indicating "Empty".
The first thing I found unusual about the box was the Stock Number- "9-122-125"
Prior to 1954 all branches of the military, Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force as well as other federal agencies each had their own system of assigning stock numbers.
In 1954 the government adopted the FSN (Federal Stock Number) system, which has a format consisting of the Stock class followed by the FIIN (Federal Item Identification Number) thus any number assigned after 1954 would have a format that has a four digit prefix and a seven digit FIIN. Example 8010-935-1234 (In 1974 the format was modified, adding two digits after the first four..so the current method would be 8010-00-935-1234.) Thus the stock number on the box confirms it predates 1954, but at that point it was still anybodies guess as to the true age of the box.
I then carefully examined the box itself. Looking at the damaged section on the front right corner of the box top I it appears the box top was constructed of plywood. At first I thought that might be an indicator that it was probably WWII, but with a bit of research I discovered that plywood was developed in 1906 and was commonly used in luggage and cases, so it could very well be WWI. The conspicuous lack of metal corner protectors also leads me to believe it is WWI vintage.
I then turned to the "Nomenclature" (description) that is printed on the box top. To the untrained eye it may seem a bit confusing, but for those of us who were trained by the military it makes perfect sense.
CASE, GAS CASUALTY TREATMENT KIT, EMPTY
Note the use of commas. The first word is "Case" followed by a comma, indicating the item is a storage case of some sort.
After the comma, we have the phrase "GAS CASUALTY TREATMENT KIT, indicating the case in question was designed for one specific purpose and that is again followed by a comma.
We then have the word "Empty" which is indicating that the item in question is merely the storage case as opposed to a whole kit that would be stocked with the supplies.
Why an empty case you ask? It could be because they had many different size cases for the same purpose. They may have had a large cabinet size treatment kit at a field hospital, but this case is intended to be restocked from the hospital kit and carried to a field aid station or perhaps carried in the field by a combat medic, in which case it would be refilled from the hospital kit as needed.
There has been some conjecture that the case must be from WWI because the use of gas warfare was outlawed shortly after WWI, but that is not true. The use of "Lethal Gas" weapons were outlawed, but we still have debilitating non-lethal gaseous type weapons today. A prime example is tear gas, which is not only maintained by the military, it is in common use by nearly all law enforcement agencies.
The fact that the box is painted OD (olive drab) green is a strong indicator that it was originally intended for the Army or Marines, but we have no way of knowing if this kit was not later stockpiled in public bomb shelters under the CD(Civil Defense) plan, although most CD cases were painted white and had the blue & red triangular CD logo on them.
I would give my best guess that your box is probably circa WWI but I would take it to a local history museum and have them authenticate it.
Thank you lazypup for such an informative answer. I really appreciate it.
I found the website for the "Army Quartermaster Museum" at Ft.Lee, Virginia.
On their home page they have a "Contact Us" button where you could probably forward your photos via email for more positive information.