US Army canteens, 1910s

Discussion in 'Stove Paraffinalia' started by OMC, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Sep 13, 2013
    I post to add a bit of early US Army canteen ref. to the site.

    Joseph Koenig (1858-1929) is a key individual re these canteens c. 1910s.
    In 1893, penniless, he got his start with aluminum and by 1908 the "inventive genius" emerged as a founding father of aluminum manufacturing in the midwest US.
    1908/09 Joseph and 2 other companies merged to form The Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Co. of Manitowoc. He was VP (age 52) and it is his company that later offers our famous MIRRO brand.
    1908/09 Joseph completes invention of his new and improved soldier's seamless aluminum canteen.
    1909 The new canteen is in production and 500 1st run examples went to the US Infantry for trials.
    1910 US infantry adopts his canteen.
    1911 Joseph applies for patent (seen next) for his canteen and his processes, patent granted in 1913.
    Of note A. The patent is granted to the individual Joseph Koenig of Two Rivers (no Manitowoc / company name).
    B. often referred to as US "WW1" or "c. WW1" canteens and that's fine but fwiw his 1st run was produced in 1909... nearly a decade before our doughboys joined the fight.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  2. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Sep 13, 2013
    Here's the patent

    ...and here's the text from the patent, the legible copy i found was his 1919 app for reissue.:
    Joseph Koenig,
    of Two Rivers, Wisconsin

    14,641, Specifications of Reissued Letters Patent. Reissued Apr. 29, 1919.
    Original No 1,062,716, dated May 27, 1913, Serial No. 621,809, Filed April 18, 1911. Application for reissue filed April 4. 1917. Serial No. 159,798.

    To all whom it concern:
    Be it known that I, Joseph Koenig, a
    citizen of the United States, and resident of
    Two Rivers in the county of Manitowoc
    and State of Wisconsin, have invented certain
    new and useful Improvements in Flasks
    for Liquids; and I do hereby declare that
    the following is « full, clear, and exact de-
    scription thereof.
    [10] The main object of my invention is to
    provide simple, economical, non-corrosive,
    anti-leak canteens designed to be comfort-
    ably carried upon the persons of soldiers and
    which will stand mouth up upon the ground,
    a mess table, or other support, said invention
    consisting in a one-piece, seamless, metal
    flask having a flat bottom and a preferably
    screw-threaded cylindrical neck; its general
    contour between the bottom and neck being
    [20] hereinafter described.
    in the accompanying drawings:
    Figure 1 represents a side elevation of a
    canteen in accordance with my invention;
    Fig. 2, a sectional view of the same on the
    plane indicated by line 2—2 in Fig. 1;
    Fig. 3, a plan view of said canteen inverted,
    Fig. 4, a horizontal section of the same on
    the plane indicated by line 4—4 in Fig. 2.
    [30] Referring by numerals to the drawings, 5
    indicates the body of a flask that constitutes
    ‘a canteen in accordance with my invention.
    This flask-like canteen is designed to be
    made from single piece of aluminum without
    seam, in order to be non-corrosive and
    anti-leak. Its bottom is flat and it is pro-
    vided with a screw-threaded cylindrical
    neck 6.
    The general contour of the body of the
    [40] canteen in horizontal section at any plane
    intermediate of it's bottom and neck is for
    the most part elliptical, one side being dished
    to form a concavity 7 extending upward
    from the bottom to a predetermined height.
    The canteen is gradually widened upward
    from the bottom to approximately one-half
    its height and then gradually decreased in
    width up to the beginning of its neck, as is
    herein shown.
    [50] The canteen has one of its sides concave
    in order that it may readily conform to the
    curvature of the person carrying the same,
    and its bottom is flat so that it may stand
    alone. A swivel-ring 8 is shown engaging
    an outer annular groove in the neck of the [55]
    canteen, and a chain 9 in connection with
    said ring has swivel connection with a screw-
    cap closure 10 for said neck.

    I am aware that it is not novel to make a
    one piece, flat bottom and seamless sheet- [60]
    metal receptacle for liquids. I am also
    aware that it is not novel to make a rounded
    lower end metal or glass flask or bottle having
    its body concave upon one side between
    said end thereof and its neck, its body being
    of otherwise generally elliptical contour in
    horizontal section intermediate of the
    extremes aforesaid.

    It is not at all difficult to make receptacles
    as aforesaid, but it has required invention [70]
    and great deal of expensive experiment to
    make a one piece sheet metal flask-like canteen
    having a flat bottom and one side of its
    body concave from said bottom to a prede-
    termined height above the same, as the
    product of a method set up in my application
    Serial No. 672,655, filed January 22, 1912.
    In brief, the method aforesaid ‘consists in
    drawing operations to reduce a single flat
    sheet of metal to a cup form of predeter- [80]
    mined dimensions; taperingly reducing the
    diameter of a lower portion of the cup and
    at the same time imparting thereto a more
    tapering ellipsoidal form below the reduction
    aforesaid; pressing and flattening it's
    lower portion and bottom into the shape and
    dimensions of the finished canteen and at the
    same time forming-a concave depression in
    one side of said expanded portion of said
    cup; spinning in of the then upper round [90]
    portion of the product and terminating the
    same at the top in a cylindrical neck; molding
    the round portion of the product below
    its neck to convert the same into the ellip-
    soidal contour of said finished canteen as
    well as to upwardly extend the aforesaid
    concave depression; and finally screw-
    threading said neck.

    While in these specifications I have used
    the term “canteen” as applied to my new [100]
    article of manufacture, it is obvious that the
    flask-like bottle herein shown and described
    may be worn on the body of the person and
    be used to contain liquid whether such liquid
    is for drinking or other purposes.

    I claim:
    1. An improved article of manufacture,
    consisting of a one-piece, seamless-body, [108 ]
    [109] sheet metal, flask-like canteen, having a flat
    [110] bottom and a side thereof concave from said
    bottom to a predetermined height above the
    2. An improved article of manufacture,
    consisting of a ‘one-piece, seamless-body,
    sheet metal, flask-like bottle for liquids, having
    a flat bottom adapting it for ready filling
    and a side thereof concave from said bottom
    [110 ] to a predetermined height above the
    same to conform to the curvature of the body[119]
    when worn on the person. [120]
    In testimony that I claim the foregoing I
    have hereunto set my hand at Two Rivers.
    in the county of Manitowoc, and State of
    Wisconsin, in the presence of two witnesses.
    Witnesses: Lutv. Jacosson and H. L. Vits

    Copies of this patent may be obtained for five cents each, by addressing the Commissioner of Patents,
    Washington, D. C.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  3. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Sep 13, 2013
    The lion-share of the following details were copied / sourced from an online PDF:
    "US Army Field Mess Gear"
    from US Army Center of Military History. US Army mess kits are a closely related topic and also covered on CCS, link.

    The 1909 Infantry Equipment Board introduced a completely new set of field equipment. The
    board had 300 sheet tinned steel canteens and cups manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal,
    and 500 aluminum canteens and cups manufactured by The Aluminum Goods
    Manufacturing Company (A.G.M. Co.), sent out for trial in 1909.
    [[note this "A.G.M." reference is the Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Co. and not AGM American Gas Machine, there's no relation although both in upper midwest US as is the Rock Island Arsenal]]

    A.G.M held a patent for the process of manufacturing one-piece (seamless) aluminum products. In 1910 the board decided to adopt the aluminum canteen and the first production canteens were made by
    A.G.M. Co. in sets with the cups.

    Above is an M-1910 unmarked A.G.M. Co. canteen of seamless manufacture as first manufactured for
    issue. It has all aluminum construction except the chain which is made of corossionless German
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  4. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Sep 13, 2013
    In 1911 the Army began searching for a method of manufacturing canteens that would not
    require paying royalties to A.G.M. for the patented spinning process of making seamless
    aluminum canteens.
    By 1912 Rock Island Arsenal had developed a satisfactory technique of
    welding aluminum and went into production. The welded canteens were made in two halves that
    were welded together around the outer edge.

    It should be noted that during the period from 1913 to 1917, the Aluminum Goods
    Manufacturing Co. manufactured canteens with German silver necks, chains, shackles and
    sliding loops identical to the first canteens manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal, but with the
    same cap as on the earlier canteens. Some of these canteens were purchased on state contracts
    and were used by National Guard units.

    Above are two welded, unmarked, 1912 Rock Island Arsenal manufactured canteens with improved
    German silver neck, sliding ring, shackle and chain. The early RIA caps were similar to those
    manufactured by the A.G.M. Co., but the caps are slightly larger and have cross checked knurling in a
    band at the top. The canteen on the right has an improved cap with full knurling on the side, but still flat on the top.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  5. OMC

    OMC Subscriber

    Sep 13, 2013
    1912-13 detail of caps on unmarked R.I.A. canteens.

    In 1914 Rock Island eliminated the neck ring and replaced it with an improved neck with a lug
    which secured the cap chain with a small pin. In addition, a new cap was added with a domed
    top and knurled side.

    An unmarked, welded, Rock Island Arsenal manufactured aluminum canteen with the 1914 cap and neck improvements.

    [[all of the above relates to pre-1918. In 1918 came major production increases. The result is today re early US Army canteens we see far more "1918" dated canteens vs the earliest versions of this type.]]

    In 1918 the Quartermaster Corps contracted for canteens to be manufactured by five domestic companies. These canteens were manufactured using the specifications that Rock Island Arsenal had developed for the welded body with the 1914 cap and neck improvements. In addition, the aluminum was treated during the manufacturing process to reduce reflection.

    The known World War I manufacturers of M-1910 canteens include:
    The Aluminum Company of America (ACA),
    Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Co. (AGM or AGM Co),
    Buckeye Aluminum Co. (BA Co.),
    J. W. Brown Co. (J.W.B),
    Landers, Frary & Clark (L F & C).
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  6. ROBBO55

    ROBBO55 Subscriber

    Oct 27, 2014
    Somersby, New South Wales, Australia
    Thanks @OMC . :thumbup:
    Interesting reading on a design that has passed the test of time.
  7. SveaSizzler

    SveaSizzler United States Subscriber

    Jul 26, 2016
    Tucson, Arizona
    I have a canteen marked:
    ACA 1918
    The number seven is stamped about 3/8'' below the US markings which are stamped sideways reading ''up''.
    Canteen is somewhat dinged up, having survived 2 world wars and a police action. I got it in a Korean War vintage carrier.
  8. ulysses

    ulysses Subscriber

    Jan 9, 2008
    Manasquan, New Jersey USA
    A very nice, well researched article, thanks for posting. I have a 1918 dated M1910 canteen. I also have a Nalgene "Oasis", dated 2017, BPA free canteen to the exact same design, a very good product; tough, light, cheap and fits in the GI canteen cup.