Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dr. Sayman and his Traveling Medicine Show

I had found a small square milk glass jar in one of my mother's auction boxes.  A tin lid with the impression of a reputable-looking man that screwed onto the jar.  Raised words around the lid say - Sayman's Products Are Supreme Dr. Sayman St. Louis.  There was no label or markings on the jar.  I had never heard of Sayman's Products before but thought that this was probably a jar for ointment or salve.  One of the things I love about selling vintage glass is the research and discovering interesting stories of past entrepreneurs of our great country.  Dr. Thomas M. Sayman is no exception.  In fact, I would have to say, he is one of the most colorful and interesting charactors I have come across.
Dr. Thomas M. Sayman was not really a doctor.  He was born around 1854.  Barefooted and dressed in overalls, he ran away from his Indiana farm home at the age of 9 to make his own way in the world.  At 10, he started traveling with a circus and medicine show.  By the time he was 11, he had organized his own medicine show and traveled through Texas in a horse drawn wagon peddling his soaps, tonics and medicines.  Just fascinating stuff! 
He developed creams, medicine salves and soaps, building a large manufacturing plant in 1912.  He had become very wealthy and employed many people.  It is said that he was very generous with giving to charities and taking care of his employees.   It seems that he was also concerned with the possibility of being robbed and was known to keep a large collection of weapons.  He had no problem brandishing a pistol in public.  Not well accepted, these incidents landed him in trouble with the police and courts over fifty times.  And, then there were the suits against his Sayman's Vegetable Liniment Compound by the US for misbranding.  The list of ailments and diseases that Sayman's Vegetable Liniment Compound was suppose to cure included just about everything known to man.  And, not only did it cure ailments for humans, but also horses and dogs.     
Mr. Sayman had three daughters and one son by his first wife, Rosa.  He divorced sometime between 1900 to 1910.  He married a second wife, Lillian and had a daughter.  Divorce was bit unusual considering the times of the 1900s.   
Thomas M. Sayman died in September of 1937.  What a character!  I just can't get over that at the age of 9, he left home to seek his fame and fortune.  

You can buy this Dr Sayman Square Milk Glass Jar that use to hold some of Doc Sayman's miracle ointment from CAROLINABLUELADY Vintage Collectibles.   


  1. This same man also purchased and donated 2,500 acres of land to the state of MO for Roaring River State Park 7 miles from Cassville. He also had some interest in another State Park near Meremec Caverns.

  2. How much you went for the jar?

  3. We found a Sayman glass bottle, and a few milk glass jars that look like the same as you posted, but the jars didn't have the lids.