Sunday, April 22, 2018

Amelia Earhart UNRESCUED

My second novel, Amelia Earhart UNRESCUED, will soon be in bookstores. A prequel to my 2009 Thirteen Bones, it imagines Amelia Earhart's (AE's) fate from the time of her hypothesized landing on Nikumaroro with Fred Noonan to the time of her passing. It incorporates and is consistent with all our historical, archaeological, osteological, radio, and other data, though I've not interpreted all those data quite as some of my colleagues have, and I've imagined quite a lot. Talking (multilingual) crabs, a psychotherapist booby, the island's resident spirit-being, and of course AE's state of mind as she loses her airplane, loses Fred, struggles with the environment and gradually succumbs. Not an entirely pretty picture, but a respectful one, I hope, and one that's as close to what probably really happened as I could make it.

AE UNRESCUED is published by Flat Hammock Press of Mystic, CT ( Royalties, if any, will be divided evenly among the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, TIGHAR, and me. Although publication is a couple of months off, I can make galley pages available to interested reviewers; contact me at

I'm grateful to everyone who helped bring AE UNRESCUED to publication, but let me particularly thank Janis Carty for the cover art, and for putting up with my suggestions. And of course I'm grateful to TIGHAR for making it all possible.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Archaeological Context of the Human Bones Found on Nikumaroro in 1940

Richard Jantz's re-analysis of the measurements taken in 1941 on human bones from Nikumaroro, recently published in the journal Forensic Anthropology*. has attracted a good deal of media attention, as well it should. Unfortunately, however, the measurements are being taken by the press as though they comprise the only evidence that Earhart and Noonan wound up on the island. 

My 2012 paper, "Amelia Earhart on Nikumaroro: a Summary of the Evidence"** outlines the general arguments and data underlying the Nikumaroro Hypothesis. The following paper, published in the February 2018 issue of TIGHAR Tracks along with a reprint of Jantz's paper and a critique of the 1941 analysis by Ric Gillespie, focuses on the specific site where all available evidence suggests that the bones were discovered.

The Archaeological Context of the 1940 Nikumaroro Bones Discovery
Thomas F. King[1]
November, 2017


In 1940, colonists on Nikumaroro Atoll in the Phoenix Islands discovered a human cranium on the southeast end of the island. They buried the cranium, but Gerald Gallagher, Administrator of the Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme under which the island was being prepared for settlement, became aware of the discovery and recovered twelve additional bones[2] and various artifacts, which he sent (along with the cranium, which he had excavated) to the headquarters of the Western Pacific High Commission (WPHC) in Fiji. The bones and artifacts all went missing during World War II, but not before the bones had been measured and commented upon by Dr. David Hoodless, then Principal of the Central Medical School for the Colony of Fiji.  Correspondence and internal WPHC memoranda about the bones discovery (which we colloquially refer to as “the bones papers”) were discovered in 1997 in the Kiribati National Archives by historian Peter MacQuarrie, and substantially augmented by TIGHAR discoveries in the WPHC archives then on file at Hanslope Park in England[3].

In a 1998 paper, physical anthropologists Karen Burns and Richard Jantz, with input from Richard Gillespie and me, concluded that the bones discovered in 1940 may quite likely have been those of Amelia Earhart[4]. In a 2015 paper[5], Pamela Cross and Richard Wright have dismissed this conclusion.

Richard Jantz has prepared a response to the anthropological assertions in the Cross/Wright paper ( Ric Gillespie has written an analysis of the 1940/41 British investigation and some of the assertions made by Cross and Wright (See TIGHAR Tracks 34:1, February 2018. The purpose of the paper presented here is to outline the archaeological background to Gillespie’s and Jantz’s discussions.

Where Were the Bones Found?

Gallagher’s 17th October 1940 telegram reports that the bones were found “on South East corner of island,” under a “ren” tree[6] (Tournefortia argentia.). His reports provide no further detail other than distance from the high tide line, but he was directed to make an “organised search” of the area. A 1941 U.S. Navy airphoto shows that vegetation had been cleared near the island’s southeast end – an activity that would most likely be a necessary part of what Gallagher described as an intensive search[7] – adjacent to an unvegetated linear feature shaped like the numeral seven. This feature is stable, appearing in multiple aerial and satellite images through the years. This made the location imaged in 1941 fairly easy to find.

In 1996 TIGHAR researchers performed an initial survey of the site, which we call the “Seven Site” because of the adjacent natural clearing. Noting only bird bones, a hole in the ground, and surface artifacts easily attributable to the 1939-63 colonists and the 1944-46 Coast Guardsmen, TIGHAR did no further work there at the time.

Some months later, in 1997, historian Peter McQuarrie found the documents surrounding the 1940 bones discovery; this, of course, drew our attention back to the Seven Site, leading to four episodes of archaeological work there. In 2017, forensic dogs alerted on the ground under a fallen Ren tree (See below) and nowhere else in the vicinity[8], strongly suggesting that the tree we call “the Big Ren,” or a previous tree at the same location, was the site of the bones discovery.

Artifacts Associated with the Bones

Statements by Gallagher, Dr. K.R. Steenson and others in the bones papers[9] indicate that the following artifacts were found in association with the bones:

·         A Benedictine bottle;
·         Parts of a woman’s and man’s shoes;
·         Small corks on chains;
·         Part of a sextant’s inverting eyepiece; and
·         A sextant box, wooden, with dovetailed corners, inscribed with the numbers 3500 and 1542.

All of these artifacts have been lost, and none is documented as having received much attention by the WPHC, with the exception of the sextant box.

The sextant box was examined by Cdr. G.B. Nasmyth and Harold Gatty, the latter a world famous aerial navigator then organizing commercial aviation operations in the Pacific. Gatty thought the box was English and had most recently been used simply as a container. Gallagher had identified the box as being for an “old fashioned” sextant “probably painted over with black enamel.” Perhaps because celestial observations from aircraft were made using a bubble octant rather than an old fashioned mariner’s sextant, Gatty opined that the box would not have contained an instrument used in trans-oceanic aeronautical navigation[10]. Although Gallagher reported the box to be marked with numbers, Nasmyth noted “no distinguishing marks” and said only that the dovetailed corners suggested French origin.

TIGHAR research into the numbers on the sextant box leave little doubt that it was for a Navy Surveying Sextant manufactured by Brandis & Sons of Brooklyn, New York. The 3500 is apparently the maker's number, while the 1542 was likely inscribed on the instrument and noted on its box when it was inspected at the U.S. Naval Observatory. Brandis boxes have dovetailed corners. A large number of Brandis sextants were acquired by the U.S. Navy toward the end of World War I, and disposed of as surplus thereafter. Some were modified for aeronautical use. Earhart’s navigator, Fred Noonan, reportedly used a nautical sextant as a “preventer” (back-up) instrument when navigating for Pan American on its Pacific routes, and a photo of the navigation room in a Pan Am Clipper on which Noonan served shows a Brandis sextant box.[11].

Archaeological and Oral Historical Work Pertaining to the Seven Site

 In 1996, 2001, 2007, 2010 and 2017 we conducted archaeological surface survey and excavations at the Seven Site. In 2011 a TIGHAR team visited veterans of the Nikumaroro colony now living in the Solomon Islands and collected oral historical information on uses of the site. A comprehensive report on Seven Site archaeology is in preparation.

Summary of Research Results to Date

In summary, there is archaeological and oral historical evidence of human activity at the site during four time periods:

1.   Before 1940, when a castaway may have lived and died there;

2.   In 1940-41, when Gallagher and the colonists searched the site, likely in the context of logging its valuable Kanawa (Cordia subcordata) hardwood and preparing the site for coconut planting;

3.   In 1944-46, when U.S. Coast Guardsmen from the nearby long range radio navigation (LORAN) station appear to have hunted birds and conducted target practice at and around the site; and

4.   Sporadically from around 1941 through the 1950s, when the area was cleared and planted in coconuts, and young men from the colonial village occasionally camped there while hunting birds and turtles.

These sequential activities have created a complicated archaeological record, made more difficult to interpret by the fact that there is virtually no soil at the Seven Site within which stratigraphy can develop. Almost everything from all four phases of human activity occurs in the uppermost ten centimeters of the coral rubble that makes up the site.

Analysis of the Seven Site is not yet complete[12], but we can say the following with some confidence about the pre-1940 “castaway” period:

Someone ignited and maintained four substantial campfires, presumably in sequence, scattered over an area of about 1100 square meters. There are other smaller, more ephemeral campfire sites that we think most likely reflect episodic use of the site during the 1941-63 period.

The four major campfire sites contain varying quantities of fish, bird, and turtle bones.

The fish bones appear to represent an unselected sample of reef species, suggesting to us that the camper was catching whatever he or she could catch – unlike what could be expected of island people with greater knowledge of the reef. The camper apparently removed the fish heads before cooking, unlike island people who value and consume fish heads (Jones 2011). 

The bird bones represent species readily available on and around the Seven Site – boobies and frigate birds (Collins 2011). Whoever caught them apparently skinned them – a behavior reported by colonial veterans in the Solomon Islands but also employed in preparing fowl in the United States[13].

Turtle bones include parts of the carapace and plastron, probably representing  one adult sea turtle (Hutchison 2011), and long bones from several infantile turtles (Jones 2011). Island people on the whole do not eat baby turtles.

The Seven Site also contained two ca. 2m2 concentrations of Tridacna sp. (“giant”) clam shells, one representing seventeen clams, the other nineteen[14]. In one deposit, adjacent to a campfire feature, the valves are undamaged, as though they were opened simply by exposing them to heat. In the other, the “lips” of several valves are damaged, apparently by the forceful insertion of a small wedge found nearby, fashioned from the rim of a steel barrel. Some have been smashed open with rocks. This is very atypical of island people, who know how to harvest Tridacna clams by quickly cutting their adductor muscles while they are filter-feeding in the lagoon or on the reef, then cutting out the meat and leaving the valves behind. If they do bring a complete Tridacna ashore, they know that simple exposure to the heat of the sun or a fire will cause its valves to open.

We recovered (or recorded and left in place) a diverse range of artifacts at the Seven Site. The most prominent were many sheets of corrugated iron, rusted into tiny pieces, which we think were associated either with clearing the site in 1940-41 (perhaps for skidding logs down to the lagoon) or with post-war development of the site for coconuts. The most common artifacts are cartridges and occasional spent slugs from M-1 carbines, carried by the U.S. Coast Guardsmen. A few .22 caliber rounds were found, perhaps from a pistol that Gallagher is recorded as having owned. Most interesting from the standpoint of identifying the castaway who presumably lived and died at the site are:

·         Two broken, partially melted bottles apparently dating to before World War II, found in one of the campfire features, which appear to have shattered while standing upright in the fire; we suspect that they represent an attempt to boil water. One bottle was most likely made to contain St. Joseph Liniment or St. Joseph Penetro (cough syrup) while the other was a returnable U.S. beer bottle probably manufactured prior to World War II[15].

·         In the same campfire feature, both halves of a snap fastener consistent with those on a Burroughs Wellcome & Co. wooden “Tabloid” first aid kit; a “Tabloid” kit is documented to have been aboard Earhart’s Electra on the first World Flight[16].

·         Two adjoining fragments of a piece of thin beveled glass, almost certainly from a mirror, several fragments of red material chemically consistent with early 20th century rouge, and some tiny fragments of ferrous metal, all of which we interpret as the collective remains of a woman’s compact, similar in shape and size to an object shown in Earhart’s hands in two contemporary photographs (See King 2012);

·         A small footed jar that contained a mercury-based product, similar to jars containing mercury-based ointment used in the early 20th century to fade freckles (Earhart had freckles)(See Cerniglia et al n.d.);

·         A fragment of a Mennen bottle, probably once containing skin lotion;
·         The base of a skin or hair lotion bottle whose base code indicates it was manufactured by Owens-Illinois at Plant 14 in Bridgeton, New Jersey (See Cerniglia 2012);

·         A bone-handled, double-bladed jackknife, manufactured by the Imperial Cutlery Company of Providence, Rhode Island sometime between 1930 and 1945, apparently disassembled to remove the blades, possibly for use in fashioning a spear[17]. A similar but not identical knife is recorded as having been aboard Earhart’s Electra after its accident in Hawaii during the first World Flight attempt;

·         A zipper pull, made by the U.S. based Talon company and reliably dated to not earlier than 1933 and not later than 1936[18]; Earhart wore zippered slacks, and carried at least one zippered bag in the Electra; and

·         A tiny piece of aluminum foil with lettering on it that, while sparse, is consistent with that of an American signal torch, and whose unmarked side exhibits traces of sulfur (67%), silicon, zinc and iron consistent with flammable black powder.

Other artifacts, such as several leads for a mechanical pencil, what may be the remains of a hair-curling iron, the probable remnants of a flashlight battery, and many, many tiny fragments of thin ferrous metal, remain in analysis.

Finally, in 2010 we recovered a single phalanx (finger/toe bone) from a spot under the Big Ren.  The University of Oklahoma DNA laboratory was unable to extract usable DNA for analysis in 2010, so at present even species identification is uncertain. It could have been the phalanx of a sea turtle (though we have found no other adult sea turtle bones at the Seven Site other than those of the carapace and plastron) or of a dolphin (though we have found no other dolphin bones at the site). This bone is currently awaiting further analysis.

In 2015 Dawn Johnson retrieved samples of the coral rubble “soil” at the base of the Big Ren. These were subjected to controlled inspection by highly trained forensic dogs employed by the Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF)[19]. Dogs alerted on two of the samples, indicating that they sensed an association with human remains. This fortified our impression that the area around the Big Ren is where the bones were found in 1940, and helped motivate the National Geographic Society to support the 2017 work in which ICF canines alerted repeatedly under the Big Ren. Soil samples from alert sites are currently under analysis.

Of course, there are multiple ways to account for the artifacts, bones, shells and fire features that make up the Seven Site, but one of the more efficient plausible hypotheses is that a woman from the United States lived and died there in the late 1930s, after which several other uses of the site complicated the evidence left by her presence and passing.


Cerniglia, Joseph. (2012, February 13). Notion of a Lotion: Artifact 2-8-S-2a. Retrieved from  
Cerniglia, Joseph; George, Greg; Lockhart, William; King, Thomas. (2013, September 13). A Freckle in Time or a Fly in the Ointment. Retrieved from                            Archives/Research/ResearchPapers/freckleintime/FreckleInTime.html

Collins, Sara (Pacific Studies Consulting, Inc. (2011) Analysis of TIGHAR Faunal Materials. Unpublished report to  TIGHAR .

Hutchison, Howard (University of California, Berkeley [ret]). E-mail to the author, 11 April 2011.
Jones, Sharyn (University of Alabama, Birmingham). Report on Zooarchaeological Remains from the Seven Site, Nikumaroro, Phoenix Islands. Unpublished report to TIGHAR.

King, Thomas F. (2012, September 17). Artifacts of the Seven Site: A Compact?

[1] I’m grateful to Ric Gillespie and Joe Cerniglia for critical comments on drafts of this paper; all responsibility for errors and omissions is mine, however.
[2] Mandible with 5 teeth in place (one of which was apparently lost before examination in Fiji); partial right scapula; first thoracic vertebra; rib fragment; left humerus; right radius; right innominate; right femur; left femur; right tibia; right fibula; right scaphoid.
[3] See and subsequent pages for a complete presentation of the “bones papers” in chronological context.
[5] The Nikumaroro bones identification controversy: First-hand examination versus evaluation by proxy — Amelia Earhart found or still missing? By Pamela J. Cross, Richard Wright. (ScienceDirect at
[6] Common names of trees used here, and by Gallagher, are those employed in the language of Kiribati.
[7] The clearing may have also been connected with the logging on the site that we suspect led to discovery of the bones.
[8] Except in and around the hole where we suspect that the cranium was buried for a time.
[9] See and subsequent pages, especially notes of 4 September, 23 September, 1 October, 6 October , 17 October 1940; 1 July, 8 August 1941.
[12] See, accessed 12/3/16, for a somewhat dated and incomplete interim report.
[13] This is indicated by a lack of lower leg and foot bones; when one skins a bird, one pulls the skin down to the lower legs rather like removing a pair of overalls, then cuts off the lower legs and discards them with the skin and feathers. For a demonstration from the U.S., see, accessed 12/3/16.
[14] Scattered fragments nearby could indicate that each Tridacna feature originally contained one or more additional clams.
[15] Based on consultations among Joseph Cerniglia, William Lockhart, and the author. The green bottle matches Fuerst Design Patent 90023, which was used for St. Joseph Liniment and Penetro. The beer bottle appears to be of the American Export style, intended for sale within the United States west of the Mississippi River, and returnable.
[16] See
[17] See More parts of the same knife were recovered in 2010.
[18] See
[19] See , accessed 12/3/16

Monday, February 19, 2018

Re-Analysis of 1941 Bones Measurements Suggests That The Bones Likely Were Amelia Earhart's

Press Release
For Immediate Release, 6 February 2018
A newly published study further supports the hypothesis that Amelia Earhart landed and died as a castaway on the remote atoll known as Nikumaroro (Gardner Island).

A highly technical peer-reviewed paper published in the scientific journal Forensic Anthropology compares measurements of the bones of a castaway found on an uninhabited Pacific atoll in 1940 with new quantified data on Amelia Earhart. The author concludes that “Until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart, the most convincing argument is that they are hers.”

The study, titled “Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones – A 1941 Analysis versus Modern Quantitative Techniques” is open access and can be downloaded at the University of Florida Press.
The author, Richard L. Jantz, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus and Director Emeritus at the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center. The university’s Anthropological Research Facility, famously known as “The Body Farm,” was founded by Dr. William Bass. The donated body program was established in 1981 as a means of studying factors that affect human decomposition and to develop a skeletal collection of modern Americans. Many of the skeletons used to characterize Amelia Earhart were from the donated collection.

In 2005, Richard Jantz and Stephen Ousley created Fordisc, a computer program for estimating sex, ancestry, and stature from skeletal measurements. Now in version 3.1, Fordisc, is used by nearly every board certified forensic anthropologist in the United States and many around the world.
This latest finding in the 80-year search for an answer to Earhart’s fate is the culmination of research that began with TIGHAR’s 1998 discovery of original British files that document the finding of a partial skeleton on Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro) in 1940. The bones were suspected at the time of possibly being the remains of Amelia Earhart. In 1941, a British colonial doctor concluded that the bones belonged to a short, stocky European or mixed-race male. The bones were subsequently lost.

In 1998, forensic anthropologists Karen Burns and Richard Jantz analyzed measurements of the bones included in the British file. Using late 20th century forensic tools and techniques they concluded that the skeleton appeared to be consistent with a white female of Earhart’s height and ethnic origin. In 2015, British graduate student Pamela Cross and Australian anthropologist Richard Wright took issue with Burns and Jantz. In a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science they argued that the original 1941 British findings were more likely correct. Their study, titled “The Nikumaroro bones identification controversy: First-hand examination versus evaluation by proxy — Amelia Earhart found or still missing?” can be purchased at Science Direct.

Karen Burns died in 2012, but in response to the 2015 Cross/Wright critique, Richard Jantz undertook a quantitative analysis of the Nikumaroro bone measurements using the latest software and new forensic information about Amelia Earhart’s physique obtained by TIGHAR with the cooperation of Photek Forensic Imaging, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and Purdue University Special Collections. His newly released paper, “Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones – A 1941 Analysis versus Modern Quantitative Techniques” is the result.

Dr. Jantz’s study stands in stark contrast to the evidence presented in the July 2017 History Channel special “Amelia Earhart – The Lost Evidence.” Shortly after the show aired, the lost evidence – a photo said to show Earhart and Noonan in Japanese custody – was revealed to be neither lost nor evidence when it was found to have come from a Japanese tour book printed in 1935 – two years before the flyers disappeared. The show was withdrawn from re-broadcast and a promised investigation by the History Channel has, so far, not materialized.

Since launching The Earhart Project in 1988, TIGHAR has taken a science-based approach to testing the hypothesis that the missing flight ended at Nikumaroro. Thirty years of research suggests that Earhart made a relatively safe landing on the dry reef at the west end of the uninhabited island. She and her navigator Fred Noonan sent radio distress calls for six nights before rising tides washed the airplane into the ocean where it broke up in the surf at the reef edge. An over-flight by U.S. Navy search planes on the seventh day failed to spot the stranded flyers. Earhart survived for a matter of weeks, perhaps months, before dying at an improvised campsite near the atoll’s southeast end. Her partial skeleton was found three years later when the British established a colony on the island. Noonan’s fate is unknown.

For further information: Ric Gillespie, Executive Director,
TIGHAR, Phone: 610-467-1937, Email:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Saddest Thing...

Yes, we're back from Nikumaroro, and a very successful trip it was. Reports will be forthcoming as analyses are completed, and I'll put together a summary report shortly to publish here.

But while we were gone, there was much sturm und drang about the "Japanese Capture Hypothesis" (presented by some of its adherents as the Manifest Truth). The History Channel put out a show about it -- now withdrawn after a key piece of evidence got authoritatively debunked -- and apparently got the ratings it sought, since people continue to ask me about it. I've watched the show, and don't think it's entirely without merit, though it's breathless, credulous, one-sided, and strikes me as a bit silly.

But it's all made me ponder what I think is one of the saddest features of the Japanese Capture Hypothesis -- that its adherents have thrown up such a bunch of fluff that they've buried some real stories, about real people in places like the Marshall and Mariana Islands. These people's stories deserve to be remembered just as much as do Earhart's and Noonan's, but they're forgotten, and I find that very sad.

Consider the "woman on the dock" who figures prominently in the History Channel show. Apparently a woman of European ethnicity, with shortish, maybe curly hair, sitting on a dock in (it's said) Jaluit in the Marshall Islands, with a tallish man of similar ethnicity standing nearby. These HAVE TO BE Earhart and Noonan, trumpet the Japanese Capture aficionados, some of them even after the image was revealed to have been published in 1935. Why? Well, because who ELSE could they be?

Well, they could be lots of people. The Marshalls were held as a colonial possession by Germany from the late 1890s until 1917, when they were mandated to Japan by the League of Nations. Jaluit was the colonial center. There were lots of German traders, government people, medical personnel, missionaries, and probably beach bums, not all of whom simply evaporated when the Japanese Empire took over.

I look a the woman on the dock and I wonder if she was, say, a doctor working in the local hospital, taking a bit of time off from her duties to watch the highly decorated schooners, each representing a village, preparing for their scheduled race. And I wonder what happened to her. Did she get sent home in 1937 or 38? Was she Jewish? Did she wind up in a camp? How sad that her story has been lost in the rush to turn her into Earhart.

Or consider the well-dressed maybe American woman that eyewitnesses have said they saw in captivity on Saipan -- who in the eyes of the Japanese Capture aficionados just must have been Earhart. No matter that she was described by one eyewitness as "a little bit mestiza" -- i.e. of mixed race. The interviewer -- busily trying to establish that the witness had seen Earhart -- rushed right past that bit of intelligence. Which fits with stories told by some who worked with the Japanese authorities (but who can trust THEM, right?) about a Japanese-American woman who was imprisoned and maybe executed as a spy on Saipan.

I wonder about her. Was she maybe a teacher, or again a medical worker, or a missionary, or perhaps just an adventurous young Nisei woman from, say, San Francisco who got a job on Saipan -- which too had been substantially developed by the Germans and then by the Japanese; it was no Bali Hai -- and got crosswise with the authorities when war came? Was she perhaps a US spy? Did she do great service to her country?

We'll probably never know, because the rush to turn her into Earhart has destroyed her identity. As in the case of the woman on the dock in Jaluit.

Archaeologists are story tellers. I hate to see a story lost. So losing the stories of the woman on the dock, and the woman in the Saipan jail, makes me very sad.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Lady and the Lake: Joe Cerniglia's Analysis of a Vial from the Colonial Village Site at Ritiati, Nikumaroro

The Lady and the Lake
by Joe Cerniglia

Editor's Preface: Another artifact analysis by one of TIGHAR's most redoubtable researchers. 

Please note the continuing need for data on pharmaceutical bottles from Australia and New Zealand. Finding a clear Antipodal match for the vial that Joe describes would be the simplest and surest way to disqualify it as an Ameliafact.  TFK

During the 2015 “In Search of Amelia Earhart” trip to Nikumaroro, organized by Betchart Expeditions, Kimberly Zimmerman spotted an amber medicine vial, resting on the ground among other glass vessels near the colonial village’s fallen co-operative store. The vial measures roughly 10 by 2 centimeters and has a flute-edged cap apparently made of aluminum. The cap has been punctured in the center as though with a sharp object. Both the cap and the base of the vial have machine-made markings. Since glass vessels in the village are assumed to be associated with the Nikumaroro colony, active from 1939 to 1963, we decided not to bring the vial back with us, but we took photographs. Since then, we have become interested in some of the vial’s attributes. We plan to retrieve this artifact when we return to the island in 2017.

Fig. 1: the amber vial

While the vial awaits recovery, the photographs we took provided some data to consider. We began by looking at the circular inscription on the top of the vial’s cap.

The Inscription on the Cap

We were struck by this inscription, which, on account of time and wear, is mostly illegible, save for a few consecutive letters: UCA | PHARM[1]

Fig. 2: The top of the cap

Since available literature supports the idea that amber vials were most commonly used for medicines,[2] it would seem safe to presume that the second word on the top of the cap is “Pharmacy.”

The word before “Pharmacy” is more problematic, since only 3 terminal letters, UCA, remain. Presumably, it represents the name of the pharmacy in which the vial was filled and capped.

While pondering this inscription, we noticed the intriguing coincidence between those three letters “UCA” and the fact that Earhart resided in Toluca Lake from early November 1934[3] until taking off from Oakland, California for what became her last flight on May 20, 1937. Her first home in Toluca Lake was a rented cottage on 10515 Valley Spring Lane. She and George Putnam moved into their last residence in the neighborhood on 10042 Valley Spring Lane on September 21, 1935.[4]

Additionally, we recalled the many other glass vessels found in various locales on the island that might have come from an American pharmacy[5], many of which are not easily placed in the context of a remote Pacific island inhabited by Tuvaluan and Gilbertese colonists (but which might be placed in the context of the U.S. Coast Guard Loran Station that operated on the southern tip of the island from 1944 to 1946). We have spent considerable time studying these other apparently pharmacy-based vessels.

There was no telling yet if the vial had come from an American pharmacy, and perhaps the Toluca Lake association was coincidental, but it would have been hasty to conclude this before setting out to discover what “UCA PHARM” may have meant, and how old the vial may have been.

Exploring Village Suppliers

The vial was found, again, on the site of the abandoned village colony. We know that the colony was supplied at various times by an Australian firm, On Chong & Company of Sydney.[6] The idea that the vial was supplied by an Australian pharmacy with the letters UCA at the end of a word in its business name was therefore a lead we definitely wished to pursue.

Unfortunately, we were unable to locate any historical directories of pharmacies in Australia. An exhaustive check of Australian sources of the vial was therefore not possible. However, we were able to locate a database of all present-day cities and towns on Earth, which included the names of locales whose names end in UCA, in Australia and elsewhere, thus suggesting pharmacies adopting those names.[7]

This world database showed there is only one town in Australia whose last three letters end in UCA: Echuca. An online search of present-day pharmacies in Echuca showed that there is an Echuca Amcal Pharmacy in business there. We received no reply from a letter we wrote to Echuca Amcal Pharmacy inquiring whether it had ever seen the amber vial, so our inquiries into possible Australian connections to the vial appear to have reached an impasse. We lack the data at present to investigate more thoroughly.

The relative proximity of Nikumaroro to New Zealand and the fact that the island colony was a British possession would argue for New Zealand and the United Kingdom as the next likely sources of origin for a vial found in the village. Again, however, we were unable to locate any historical directories of pharmacies in these locales. We did find, perhaps tellingly, that the world database showed there are no cities or towns in either of these countries whose names, or words within their names, end in the letters UCA.

Exploring American Leads

On the other hand, at least in the U.S., there was much more data at hand to collect and to analyze. A complete yearbook of U.S. drug stores in operation has been available since 1912 through an annual publication known as the Hayes Druggist Directory. From a detailed study of available Hayes Directories[8] and online pharmacy directories from 1922 to 2015, we created a database spreadsheet of all pharmacies in the U.S. whose business name, city, or street address has the letters UCA at the end of a word.[9] Each pharmacy that satisfied these criteria was placed at the head of its own column on this spreadsheet. The rows of the spreadsheet represent the calendar years 1922 to 2015, inclusive. If the pharmacy was in business for the year represented by a row, then a numeral was placed in the cell in which that calendar year (row) and that pharmacy (column) intersect. The numeral in relevant cells of the spreadsheet represents a “commercial strength” score of between 1 and 90, which is a rough comparator of the worth of inventory-on-hand of each pharmacy in each year it was in business, as computed by Hayes.[10]

Fig. 3: Hayes Directories on a table at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Fig. 4: Hayes Directory key for commercial strength
By summing the commercial strength scores for each pharmacy in each column, a final score was computed for each pharmacy’s commercial strength for all the years it was in business from 1922 to 2015. By dividing each pharmacy’s final commercial strength score by the sum total of all the pharmacies’ scores, the relative proportional contribution of each pharmacy to the total commercial strength of the “UCA pharmacy market” was obtained as a percentage.

From this survey of directories we discovered:

·         Overall, U.S. pharmacies with UCA at the end of the business name, street address or city are rare. Only 26 were located in a 94-year period. There were six that were in business last year. Given that there were 60,276 pharmacies operating in the United States last year,[11] this means that roughly .01% (1 in 10,000) of the total U.S. pharmacies last year satisfied the criteria for inclusion in this analysis.

·         41% of the UCA pharmacies’ total commercial strength scores come from a single pharmacy in Amelia Earhart’s neighborhood, the Toluca Lake district of North Hollywood, California. This pharmacy was for most of its long history (1936-1991) known officially as the “Lakeside Pharmacy in Toluca Lake, North Hollywood,” but there was a brief period (1937-38) when it was listed in the San Fernando Valley City Directory simply as “Toluca Lake Pharmacy.”[12]

·         62% of the UCA pharmacies’ total commercial strength scores come from nine pharmacies, all with the word ‘Toluca’ in their name, within 3.1 miles of the Toluca Lake district, in North Hollywood, Studio City, and Burbank, California.

·         When the sample size is adjusted, such that only pharmacies with names ending in UCA are included in the database, discarding pharmacies occupying streets or cities whose names end in UCA, 88% of the remaining UCA pharmacies’ total commercial strength scores come from nine pharmacies within 3.1 miles of the Toluca Lake district of North Hollywood, Studio City, and Burbank, California.

We do not know whether Amelia Earhart was a customer of the Toluca Lake Pharmacy, much less whether she bought anything in vials there, but in three letters Earhart wrote to her mother before the world flight, she mentions a “vegetable concentrate” pharmacy elixir, telling of the benefits her husband, George Putnam, derived from taking it, and urging her mother, sister, niece and nephew to try some.[13] In one of the letters she states that a “Dr. Friend,”[14] would be willing to “make up a concentrate suitable for individual needs.” Vegetable and fruit concentrates often sold in vials, and still do today, as in the photo below.

Fig. 5: Modern fruit concentrate vials
Both of Earhart’s residences in Toluca Lake were between .7 and .8 miles of Toluca Lake Pharmacy. There was no pharmacy nearer by. The next nearest pharmacy to Earhart’s neighborhood in 1937 was W.D. Roberts Drugs, which was 1.4 miles distant.[15]

None of the research thus far, however, had attempted to answer the question of whether the vial was even old enough to have been brought to the island by Amelia Earhart, or whether it could be ruled out from having been brought by Earhart on account of its presumed age. To begin to answer this question, we turned our attention to the markings on the vial’s base.

Marks of Distinction?

Base markings can often identify a bottle’s manufacturer, the year in which a bottle was made, or a range of years in which a bottle could have been made.

On the base of the vial, there is a numeral 2 to the left of an unidentified central mark, and a numeral 0 to the right of it, along with a letter code, NT, centered below the mark.

Fig. 6: The base of the vial
The Society for Historical Archaeology’s Bottle Research Group[16] (a group that helps archaeologists and others identify bottles) and members of the Australian Antique Bottle Forum[17] examined these marks. Neither group was able to match the marks to any glass trademark they had seen or could reference.

The markings, however, share features with what the Owens-Illinois Glass Company used on its bottle bases from 1929 to 1954, as shown in the following photos:

Fig. 7: Toulouse (1971) illustration of OI mark with key explaining the meaning of the numerals[18]
Fig. 8: Compared vials
The green vial base on the left side of the above photo has the first Owens-Illinois trademark, "I" within a diamond over an oval, used from 1929 to 1954. The base of the amber vial found on Nikumaroro, on the right side of the above photo, has a letter "I" nested between brackets. Both vials have the same triadic arrangement of codes to the left, right, and beneath the mark. The Nikumaroro vial, however, lacks a central oval, shown in red, which, if it were present, would have heightened its resemblance to the Owens-Illinois base mark.

One way to explain the discrepancy relates to quality control problems. Glass factories used a lubricant called dope to prevent bottles from sticking to their molds. If a plant failed to clean the molds, whether from pressure to meet deadlines or simple oversight, the dope deteriorated and built up on the surface, so that letters or numbers on the finished bottle could be obscured or become very faint.[19] If degraded dope did build up on the mold that made the vial, it could have obscured the trademark of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company (or another company).

However, it goes without saying that facts, not hypotheses, are needed to identify a bottle mark conclusively. The only marks that can offer facts are those that are present, not those that may or may not be absent. Thus, although we hoped to learn the vial’s maker or its manufacture date, the markings on the base of the vial were simply too obscure to yield this information with certainty.

The Cap of the Vial: Datable Features?

We then turned our attention to the cap on the vial (excluding the inscription, which has already been discussed) in the hope that it would provide answers to our questions about when and where the vial was made. Three noteworthy features suggest the cap is of the roll-on variety, distinct from the far more common pre-threaded caps:

1)      The cap is conformed tightly to the vial such that it could not easily be removed.

Roll-on caps were, and are, “pressed in the capping machine by rotating rollers and shaped to conform with the individual bottle’s threads.”[20] While one cannot discount the possibility the cap is misshapen from repeated use, or originated from a container other than the vial itself, poor fit was a common complaint of caps in general in the early 1930s.[21] R-O caps specifically were known to stick because defects in the threads of the finish could cause the cap to be “drawn into the defect, locking the cap on and making it very difficult for the consumer to remove.”[22]

2)      The cap is made of heavy gauge metal, probably aluminum, and is not rusted. It has no outwardly rolled distal wire edge, as would be common on ordinary pre-threaded screw caps.

The Aluminum Seal Company (Alseco), a subsidiary[23] of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, first introduced roll-on caps, also known as R-O, in 1924. R-O caps were “initially used” in the early years after 1924 “for prescription drugs and later in some vapor-vacuum sealed caps for foods.”[24] While not all aluminum caps are R-O caps, it would appear that all R-O caps are aluminum, due to aluminum’s excellent malleability.[25] They can be found today on liquor bottles and some condiments, such as olive oil.[26]

3)      The cap has a rectangular tab-like indentation a few millimeters wide on the lower part of its skirt, in which the metal appears to have been broken off from the cap.

The rectangular indentation, visible in the lower right corner of the cap on the amber vial in the photo below, could be a remnant of a tamper-proof seal patented in 1933 by Alcoa specifically for R-O closures.[27] The seal was pressed around the base of the cap during the production process of crimping the cap with rollers. One removed the seal by pulling up on a tab. Once removed, a portion of the depending metal skirt could be deformed or torn away.

Fig. 9: Amber vial and 1936 Seagram's advertisement for pilfer-proof R-O cap

Fig. 10: Amber vial and close-up of Seagram's advertisement
In summary, then, we have:

·         The poorly fitting aluminum cap, probably R-O, introduced in 1924 by Alseco, and
·         The rectangular tab of missing cap material, possibly representing a pilfer-proof seal patented in 1933 by Alcoa, parent of Alseco.

If we are interpreting these features correctly, they could indicate the cap was made between 1924 and the mid-1930s.

The cap could also have been made at a later time, however, since the use of R-O seals on drug containers continued long past the 1930s. Although aluminum closures “seem to have been banned altogether” during World War II,[28] and despite aluminum shortages during the Korean War (1950-53),[29] R-O caps on drug bottles were marketed in the 1950s and 1960s, and “might yet be in use in Central America.”[30] These later R-O caps are described in trade literature as having a “locking band attached to the cap by small metal bridges… (The locking band) remains on the bottle after the cap is removed.”[31] One can easily locate this type of R-O cap today on condiments sold in supermarkets.

While the Nikumaroro vial does not have a persisting locking band, such a band could have been removed from the cap during its history.

In general, however, R-O aluminum closures on medicine containers appear to have been very rare. We surveyed hundreds of medicine vials and pill bottles at auction on eBay and With one exception, all the caps on these containers, dated from 1932 to 2003, appeared to be pre-threaded, not roll-on. A very small number appeared to be aluminum, but the vast majority appeared to be tinplate or Bakelite. We obtained a sample of these containers at auction. All the caps on the bottles from this sample were easily removed.[32]

The only medicine bottle we found, in addition to the vial itself, that appears to have an aluminum R-O cap was a bottle of topical cocaine ointment, pictured below. The bottle has the locking band as described in postwar trade journals, and a paper label dated February 2003.

Fig. 11: Cocaine hydrochloride bottle with R-O cap
We have been seeking but lack data concerning when R-O closures were used on drug containers in countries other than the United States. It could be that the absence of data indicates this type of cap was seldom or never used on drug containers elsewhere in the world, but we cannot say for sure.

A Knurly Problem

Experts from the Bottle Research Group have identified one feature of the vial, however, that causes them to say it is definitely not from the 1930s and thus could not possibly be Earhart’s. They say the little tooth-like marks on the perimeter of the base are datable to the 1950s or later.

Fig. 12: Perimeter knurling on base of the vial
The tooth-like marks are an example of what is known as resting point knurling, defined as marks impressed by machine to the bottle mold, which in turn create marks on the perimeter (the resting point) of a slightly concave bottle base. According to Russ Hoenig, a former Owens-Illinois shop foreman, these marks offered protection to the glass against cracking. These and other like marks “became a necessity as bottles were light-weighted with thinner glass. The cold checks (cracks) present on all bottles formed prior to annealing now penetrated proportionately deeper through the glass wall thickness on lightweight flow-manufactured bottles, which caused breakage.”[33]

The earliest documented date assigned to resting point knurling of the type exhibited on the Nikumaroro medicine vial is 1958. Coincidentally, that date is based on another Nikumaroro glass vessel, a green beverage container upturned as a grave marker on the western shore of the island, a few hundred meters north of the landing channel (editor's note: the Ritiati Bottle Grave, recorded in 1997 and again in 2015, now heavily eroded). That bottle has a date code of “58” to the right of the second Owens-Illinois trademark, which first appeared on bottles in 1954.

Fig. 13: Green beverage bottle in grave on western shore of Nikumaroro
Base markings used to prevent cracking could, as in the case of the amber vial, surround the perimeter of a bottle base, but much more often they covered the entire base. Where such marks were impressed on the mold’s base plate by machine, they are called full base knurling. Where such marks were impressed on the mold’s base plate by hand, they are called full base stippling. According to the Bottle Research Group, full base knurling by machine first appeared in 1945, and full base stippling by hand first appeared in general use in 1940.[34] [35]

However, the timeline constructed by the Bottle Research Group may not be perfect. There is evidence that full base stippling by hand appeared on select drug containers as early as 1932.


We have located two identically designed “Abbott Lab” pill bottles in amber with full base hand stippling, identical base markings (including the same plant number and year code), and identical prescription wraparound labels.

Fig. 14: Twin pill bottles
Fig. 15: The base of one of the Abbott Lab pill bottles
The label on one of the bottles has been sunned to the point that most of the printing is no longer legible. The label on the other is legible, but the typewritten year of its prescription date is slightly faded. To help determine exactly what the year on the label of this bottle is, we consulted a board-certified document examiner. Emily Will, D-BFDE (, stated her professional opinion, based on rigorously certified techniques, that the year of the label’s prescription date is 1934.[36]

On the base of the bottle with the dated label, the embossed year-of-manufacture code, situated to the right of the first Owens-Illinois trademark (used from 1929 to 1954), is a 2. This represents a year ending in the numeral 2. We presume that the bottle was manufactured in the year of the prescription date on the label, or in a prior year, such that the bottle’s year of manufacture must be earlier than or equal to 1934. The only calendar year between 1929 and 1954 that ends in 2 and is earlier than or equal to 1934 is 1932. Therefore, it is reasonable to presume this bottle with full base stippling and a dated paper label was manufactured in 1932.

We have located another amber medicine bottle, also with full base stippling. This bottle’s design is patented, as indicated by a patent number, 94824, stamped on the base. The U.S. Patent Office approved the patent in 1935.[37] The plant number, situated on the base to the left of the first Owens-Illinois mark (1929-1954), is Owens-Illinois plant number 4, Clarksburg, West Virginia, which went idle in 1944.[38] The year-of-manufacture code, situated on the base to the right of the mark, is a 9, which signifies a year ending in the numeral 9. Based on the Clarksburg plant’s years of operation, the bottle cannot be dated to 1949. Based on the patent date, it cannot be dated to 1929. Therefore, the bottle is dated with certainty to 1939, a year prior to the earliest previously documented example of full base stippling.

Fig. 16: Base of 1939 amber medicine bottle
While we have yet seen no glass container earlier than 1958 with the same resting point knurling as found on the Nikumaroro vial, the pill bottle and the patented amber bottle demonstrate that no dating system is perfect. Careful research may occasionally uncover exceptions to any archaeological dating rule. The Bottle Research Group looked closely at beer and soda bottles for relevant examples when it constructed its timeline, but it appears that it did not inspect medicine containers.[39]

An Amelia-fact?

Since full base stippling was first used on some medicine containers a few years before beer and soda, it may be that perimeter knurling followed a like pattern, first appearing on select medicines in the 1930s and then later on beverages in the 1940s once it was needed for the lighter weight bottles. We do not know whether these speculations are true, but they are logical. If they are true, and if the vial really is from the U.S., then Amelia Earhart just may have brought the vial from Toluca Lake Pharmacy to the island. At least the possibility should not be ruled out. But we have other caveats, such as:

·       If the vial was Earhart’s, it likely took a circuitous route to the village, which is “not where we are likely to find Earhart-related objects in their original contexts.”[40] Instead, it was likely brought there from somewhere else.

·       We do not know the full list of pharmacies in the world whose name, street, or city end in UCA, but, as has been stated, we do know that the colony was supplied by an Australian firm, which could easily be a source of pharmaceutical vials.

·       We know that at least five Coast Guardsmen at the Loran Station on Nikumaroro between 1944 and 1946 lived before the war in U.S. cities or towns that were within driving distance (1 to 100 miles) of several towns with pharmacies in the database of UCA pharmacies.[41]

Conclusions and Questions

Some of the Nikumaroro artifacts fascinate because they may be of a certain time, the 1930s, or of a certain person, a castaway. The amber vial fascinates because, although it is not proven to be, it just might be of a certain place, a little village in California that once counted Amelia Earhart among its own – along with a friendly drug store, named Toluca.[42]

Since the island, however, had its own village, and a history of colonists, Coast Guardsmen, explorers, researchers and others, who doubtless used medicines, there exist other equally or more equally plausible ideas as to the amber vial’s provenance. We have ideas, but few definitive answers.

Nevertheless, there are some questions that might be answerable, definitively we hope, through further research, to which anyone is welcome to contribute:

1. Have you seen the markings found on the bottom of the vial on other glass vessels? Can you say what they mean?

2. Can you locate any of the following at auction, antique shops or archaeological sites?

·         R-O closures on medicine containers
·         Medicine containers with resting point knurling
·         Base-stippled medicine containers whose manufacture date is from the 1930s
·         Toluca Lake Pharmacy vials

3. Do you know of other pharmacies outside the U.S., in Australia or elsewhere, with names ending in “UCA”? Do you know of any we missed inside the U.S.?

We also have some questions that might be answerable by those intrepid researchers fortunate enough to be on the next cruise to Nikumaroro in 2017:

A. What types of medicine containers (vials, pill bottles, etc.) can be found near the village dispensary and elsewhere in the village?

B. Can the amber vial be located again, recorded for its context and associations, and retrieved for further analysis? If so, what tests might bring back the most relevant data?

Research will continue on these questions and, very likely and in keeping with the nature of a mystery, many more that we have not yet thought to ask.

Selected Bibliography

Backus, Jean L. Letters From Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart. Boston: Beacon Press, 1982.

Bender, Nathan E. Historic Bottle and Jar Closures. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2016.

Giles, Geoff A. Handbook of Beverage Packaging. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis, 1999.

Griffenhagen, George and Bogard, Mary. History of Drug Containers and Their Labels. Madison, WI: American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 1999.

Hanlon, Joseph F., Kelsey, Robert J., Forcinio, Hallie. Handbook of Package Engineering, Third Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 1998.

Lief, Alfred. A Close-Up of Closures: History and Progress. New York: Glass Container Manufacturers Institute, 1965.

Osborn, Albert S. Questioned Documents, Second Edition. Albany: Boyd Printing, 1950.

Peterson, Arthur G. 400 Trademarks On Glass. DeBary, Florida: Arthur G.Peterson, 1968.

Sonnedecker, Glenn; Cowen, David L.; Higby, Gregory J., eds. Drugstore Memories: American Pharmacists Recall Life Behind the Counter, 1824-1933. Madison, WI: American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 2002.

Toulouse, Julian Harrison. Bottle Makers and Their Marks. Caldwell, New Jersey: The Blackburn Press, 1971.

Winters, Kathleen C. Amelia Earhart: The Turbulent Life of an American Icon. New York: Macmillan, 2010.

For information on the Nikumaroro hypothesis concerning the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart, see:

Gillespie, Richard. Finding Amelia. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2006.

King, Thomas F., Jacobson, Randall S., Burns, Karen R., Spading, Kenton. Amelia Earhart’s Shoes. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press, 2004 (updated edition).

King, Thomas F., Thirteen Bones. Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing, 2009.

[1] We interpret the vertical line between “UCA” and “PHARM” as an interpunct, a word separator.
[2] Griffenhagen, George and Bogard, Mary. History of Drug Containers and Their Labels. Madison, WI: American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 1999, pp. 35-36.
[3] Winters, Kathleen C. Amelia Earhart: The Turbulent Life of an American Icon. New York: Macmillan, 2010, pp. 151-152.
[4] Papers of Amy Otis Earhart, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Call No. MC 398, M-129, Reel #3.
We are indebted to Sarah Hutcheon, Research Librarian at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, for her assistance.
[5] For a list of various containers of suspected pharmaceutical origin, see Dr. Thomas King’s blog at
[6] See for details on the Gardner colony’s relationship with On Chong & Company.
[7] See
[8] On November 23 and 24, 2015, The Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania generously opened up its collection of Hayes Directories for research purposes. We are indebted to librarian Ashley Augustyniak for her assistance.
[9] The pharmacy database may be viewed at
[10] For pharmacies in business after 1997, we were unable to access the relevant Hayes Directories. Instead, we used pharmacy directories available online from insurers. For these pharmacies, we estimated the commercial strength scores based on size of the market. For those years in the 20th century for which no Hayes Directory was available, we filled in missing data by using information from Hayes Directories from years prior to and later than the gap, when it was logical to do so.
[12] Yellow pages: San Fernando Valley Directory. 1937-38. Long Beach, CA: A to Z Directory Publishers.
See the Directory listing for Toluca Lake Pharmacy at Note that this establishment is also listed elsewhere in the directory as “Lakeside Pharmacy.”
[13] Earhart, Amelia. Letters to Amy Otis Earhart. 5 July 1935; 25 Feb 1936; 20 Mar 1936. MS. Papers of Amy Otis Earhart, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
[14] The chief pharmacist, owner and founder of Toluca Lake Pharmacy was Robert G. Eyth. Eyth is an Anglo-Saxon word that is loosely translated as “friendly.” The 1937-38 San Fernando Valley telephone directory lists no doctor by the name of “Friend.” In Letters from Amelia, a compilation of letters written by Earhart, editor Jean Backus chose to redact the name of Dr. Friend, instead referencing him or her as “the doctor.” She presumably did this to mask the doctor’s identity (for reasons unknown).
[15] Yellow pages: San Fernando Valley Directory. 1937-38. Long Beach, CA: A to Z Directory Publishers. Distances computed by
[16] The Bottle Research Group consists of:
Bill Lockhart, Professor, New Mexico State University
Dr. Peter Schulz, Senior Archaeologist (retired), California State Parks, Sacramento, California
Carol Serr, Archaeologist, Laguna Mountain Environmental, Inc., San Diego, CA
Bernard Schriever, Archaeologist, Laguna Mountain Environmental Inc., San Diego, California
David Whitten, collector and glassmaking historian, Clarksville, Indiana
[18] Toulouse, Julian Harrison. Bottle Makers and Their Marks. Caldwell, New Jersey: The Blackburn Press, 1971, p. 403. 
[19] Lockhart, Bill. “Re: Photo from Bottle Grave Site.” Message to Joe Cerniglia and Thomas King. 19 Dec 2015. E-mail.
[20] Lief, Alfred. A Close-Up of Closures: History and Progress. New York: Glass Container Manufacturers Institute, 1965, p. 29.
[21] Ibid., p. 33.
[22] Giles, Geoff A. Handbook of Beverage Packaging. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis, 1999, p. 238.
[24] Hanlon, Joseph F., Kelsey, Robert J., Forcinio, Hallie. Handbook of Package Engineering, Third Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 1998, p. 436.
[25] Giles, p. 238
[26] For a demonstration of the process of creating an R-O cap, see the video at
[27] To view the patent, see
[28] Bender, Nathan E. Historic Bottle and Jar Closures. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2016, p. 90.
[29] U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Technical Options for Conservation of Metals: Case Studies of Selected Metals and Products, OTA-ITC M97 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 1979), p. 118.
[30] Bender, pp. 84-86.
[31] Modern Packaging Encyclopedia, 1951 edition., Packaging Catalog Corporation, 1951, p. 456.
[32] For a database of medicine containers, see
[33] Lockhart, Bill. “Re: The Boston Pill Bottle.” Message to Joe Cerniglia and Thomas King. 27 Jan 2016. E-mail.
[34] See
[35] Lockhart, Bill. “Re: The Boston Pill Bottle.” Message to Joe Cerniglia and Thomas King. 7 Dec 2015. E-mail.
[36] For Emily Will’s full forensic report, see For a biographical timeline (source: of persons whose names appear on the label, see The timeline demonstrates the label is internally consistent with the prescription date of 1934.
[37] and also
[39] The archaeological site from which examples of bottles with stippling and knurling were obtained was the back lot of a former beer distributor in El Paso, Texas. Lockhart, Bill. “Re: The Boston Pill Bottle.” Message to Joe Cerniglia and Thomas King. 7 Feb 2016. E-mail.
[40] Thomas F. King,
[41] Using, we compiled a census of all 71 men who inhabited Loran Unit 92 on Nikumaroro, to try to discover each man’s residence just prior to World War II. See the census at the second tab of the Excel document at The personnel roster was sourced from
[42] For a circa 1959 tour of shops along Toluca Lake's main road, Riverside Drive, which includes a Toluca Pharmacy at 0:55, see