Tuberculosis is a communicable disease, and as Saranac Lake had at one time hundreds of TB patients, sanitation was taken very seriously. A sputum cup provided a safe receptacle for a patient's spit. They were of many designs, some disposable, some meant to be cleaned and disinfected. Spitting on the street in the village was subject to a fifty dollar fine.
When carried around the sputum cups were referred to as Pocket Flasks as oppose to the boxes that were used at someone's bedside.