Dr. David Jayne and his Family Medicines


©2002 Digger Odell Publications

 Few patent medicine companies can claim to be as successful and long lived as the line of Dr. Jayne's Family Medicines. Dr. David Jayne was a pioneer in the field of proprietary medicine and built a business empire that was to last over 100 years.

 Dr David Jayne came from a long line of clergymen.  His father, Ebenezer and his uncle, the elder David Jayne were both Baptist ministers as were some of his earlier relatives. Ebenezer was Pastor of a church at Newfoundland, Morris County, New Jersey. He was the author of a book of spiritual songs published about 1809, at Morristown, N. J. by subscription. The book was used for many years in the early Baptist Churches. David Jayne was born at Bushkill, Monroe County, Pa., or Middle Smithfield in 1799, the son of the Rev. Ebenezer Jayne. David’s mother was Ebenezer’s second wife who was twelve years his junior.  Dr. David Jayne's family record says his mother Mary DeWitt was the daughter of Isaac & Mary DeWitt a distant relation to the famous Clinton DeWitt. Dr. Jayne was later to name his second son Isaac DeWitt Jayne.

If you like this article, you'll love Digger's other articles and books  on Indian Medicines, Medicine Price Guide and Pontil Medicine Encyclopedia.

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Civil War Era humorist “Petroleum V. Nasby” wrote this piece making fun of men who were dodging the military draft by concocting bogus illness:


"Why He Should Not Be Drafted" (1861?)

I see in the papers last night the Government has instituted a draft.... I know not what others may do, but...I can't go. Upon a rigid examination of my fizzleckle man, I find it would be...madness for me to undertake a campaign, to wit: [...] I have a chronic catarrh. [...] My teeth is all unsound; my palate ain't exactly right, and I have had bronchitis 31 years last June. At present I have a cough, the paroxysms of which is frightful to behold. [...] I am afflicted with chronic diarrhea and costiveness. The money I have paid (or promised to pay) for Jayne's carminative balsam and pills would astonish almost anyone. [...] I don't suppose that my political opinions, which are aginst the prosecution of this unconstooshnel war, would have any weight, with a draft officer. But the above reasons why I can't go, will, I make no doubt, be sufficient.


 The rural district in that day presented very few opportunities for education, but the boy entered upon a severe course of self-culture and fitted himself, with the aid of a tutor, to enter the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1825 he entered upon the practice of medicine in Cumberland County, and afterwards in Salem County, N.J. Shortly thereafter his father died in 1826.

 In the year 1831 he introduced the first of his proprietary medicines. It is believed that the Carminative Balsam was the first while the others were produced in the succeeding years; the Liniment or Counter-Irritant in the later 1830's; the Tonic Vermifuge in 1845 followed by the Hair Tonic and Ague Mixture. The sale of his first medicines proved so successful that he moved to Philadelphia in 1836, purchased a drugstore at No. 20 South Third Street, and there, while engaged in the sale of drugs and in medical practice, laid the foundation of his subsequent great business in the sale of proprietary medicines.

 His business grew so quickly that he was obliged to relinquish all visiting practice but, so the story goes, until the end of his life continued to prescribe for such patients as came to his office, treating them gratuitously and as a "labor of love." By 1845 his business had so expanded that it became necessary to seek larger quarters, and he moved to No. 8, on the same street, a few doors above his original place of business. In less than two years this locality also became insufficient in size, and he then determined on the erection of a building that would be ample for all probable growth of his business, and one which - in size and elegance - would far surpass any business house in Philadelphia. The site selected was on the south side of Chestnut Street. The building begun there in 1848 was completed in the autumn of 1850. When finished it stood 10 stories in height (two underground), its elevation being 100 feet, above which rose a tower 32 feet higher. Its front was of Quincy granite and gothic in architecture making it the most conspicuous building of that time in Philadelphia.

In 1850 Dr. Jayne formed a partnership with his son, David W. Jayne, and his nephew, Eben C. Jayne, to conduct the wholesale drug business. The business prospered for awhile, but was not as remunerative as desired and was discontinued in 1854. A new partnership was formed in 1855, including the three previous partners and John K. Walker, Dr. Jayne's brother-in-law, under the name of Dr. D. Jayne & Sons. After the formation of this firm, Dr. Jayne entrusted the management of the business mainly to his junior partners, and had the satisfaction, before died, of seeing it nearly double in volume.

 Dr. David Jayne continued his real estate investments, successively erecting the building on Dock Street, long occupied by the Post Office, the fine granite building known as "Jayne Hall," and the handsome marble buildings on the site of the old Philadelphia Arcade. He also had construction started on the handsome marble dwelling at 19th and Chestnut streets, in which his family was to reside. Jayne commissioned John McArthur, Jr., the architect of Philadelphia’s City Hall, which was the tallest and largest public building in the United States at the time of its completion. McArthur who at age 25 came to public attention after winning his first competition for designing the Philadelphia House of Refuge (1848).. In the 1850s he designed three hotels in Philadelphia as well as churches, private residences, and commercial structures. McArthur designed several structures noted for their mansard-style roofs and “Second Empire” styling, most notable among which was the residence of Dr. David Jayne. Unfortunately, David Jayne did not live to occupy the magnificent structure. He died from pneumonia on March 5, 1866, while his residence was still in the process construction.

Dr. David Jayne Residence  1826  Chestnut Street, S.E. corner  
King, Moses. Philadelphia and Notable Philadelphians. (New York: Blanchard Press, Isaac H. Blanchard Co., 1901), p. 64

Despite the death of its founder the business continued under the management of David and Eben Jayne and John K. Walker. Two other sons didn’t participate in the family business.  Henry Jayne became a lawyer and Horace Jayne, born in Philadelphia, 5 March, 1859, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1879 and then in medicine in 1882. He eventually became a professor of vertebrate morphology at the University of Pennsylvania.

 Dr. D. Jayne's Family Medicines, as they were called after the death of David Jayne, changed very little over the years, although Dr. D. Jayne's Life Preservative was dropped from the line sometime before the Civil War. Jayne was also credited with having produced a sarsaparilla in 1854, that did not sell well and was also discontinued. Aside from dropping the word Indian from  the Expectorant, few other changes were made.  After all, why mess with success? All of the other products remained essentially unchanged through the turn of the 20th century.  The passage of the Food and Drug Act of 1906 eventually resulted in the greatest changes in the Jayne's line of medicines since their inception in the early 1830's.  

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A brochure from the 1930's, entitled "Pioneers of Progress," is a romantic recital of the beginnings of the company. It reads:  

 A century ago, Dr. David Jayne, the founder of this business, dared to dream of a day when he would be able to serve more than just the small circle of patients he was able to reach on horseback . . . The medicines he prescribed were simple formulas with plain and pure ingredients. He would prescribe no medicines that were not time tested and practice proven ...  And so Dr. David Jayne set about developing a set of formulas for safe and reliable home remedies that would relieve the more common ailments that beset humanity.  The Jayne medicines, although containing many of the drugs originally prescribed by the Doctor, have been improved in accordance with the developments of the best medical opinions.  The Jayne Research Laboratories have caused the introductions of several new products. Trucks and trains, planes and ships, now carry the Jayne Medicines even to the remotest corners of the earth ...  The business, now entirely owned by Dr. David Jayne's descendants, has kept abreast with the times, in that it has developed and improved these formulas in its research laboratories. 

The Jayne medicines of the 1930's, while substantially changed in composition, retained their familiar sounding names.  What was formerly called the Jayne's Tonic Vermifuge became Jayne's Vermifuge, of which 50 million had been sold by 1930. The Jayne's Carminative Balsam became Jayne's Carminative, while the Jayne's Expectorant still sold by that name.  The preparations of the 1930's also included:  Jayne's Tape Worm Treatment, Jayne's Pin Worm Preparation, Jayne's Laxative Pills, Jayne's Tonic Pills, and Jayne's Lincreme, the replacement for the Liniment or Counter Irritant. (The Lincreme was to carry the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.) Jaynex was also a product of the 1930s. Dr. D. Jayne and Son (circa 1933-1976) was located at Delaware Avenue at Pine St. in Philadelphia. The last  reference to the company I could located was the second renewal of the trademarked word "Jayne's" in 1976.  At that time the company still appeared to have the family name and was still in Philadelphia.

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Dr. David Jayne is also credited with being one of the first men to use the almanac as a promotional device. Between 1843 the year he printed his first almanac and 1930, the Jayne company distributed  over 500 million almanacs. Early examples are rare but those from the later years and into the 20th century are still easily found.

Jayne brilliantly used intricate and finely crafted graphics to promote his products to an audience at least some of whom were illiterate.  At a time when every fence post was plastered with a broadside extolling the virtues of any one of a myriad of medicines being foisted on the general public, Jayne’s ads with their finely engraved images would have left much more of a mark on the memory of the casual observer than a dozen pages of print. He spared no expense and commissioned finely detailed engravings on copper plate partly to appeal to his customers sense of aesthetics and partially to prevent counterfeiting. These same engravings which had been used as wrappers for his bottled products and in advertisements for decades were eventually trademarked after the turn of the century. 

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Whether or not the success of the Jayne empire was due to the efficacy of the medicines or the vigor with which they were promoted cannot be determined. Nevertheless, this man has made an important contribution to both the city of Philadelphia, and the hobby of collecting old bottles.  One could make a nice collection of all of the Dr. Jayne products.  For those interested, more about his early bottles can be found in my Pontiled Medicine Encyclopedia. there you will find a listing of some of the rarer bottles and variants.



Baldwin, Joseph K., "Patent and Proprietary Medicine Bottles." Thomas Nelson, Inc., Now York, 1973. 

Blasi, Betty, "A Bit About Balsams." Farley Geoppor Printing Co. Louisville, Ky., 1974. 

Denver, Kay, "Patent Medicine Picture." Tombstone Epitaph, Tombstone, Arizona,

Fike, Richard, “The Bottle Book: Guide to Historic Medicine Bottles, Gibbs M. Smith Inc. Salt Lake city Utah, 1987.

Morris, Charles, "Makers of Philadelphia." Philadelphia, 1894. 

Wilson, Bill and Betty, "19th Century Medicine In Glass." 19th Century Hobby and Publishing Co., Amador City, Calif., 1971. 

Robert Stevenson & Co., "Wholesale Druggist Catalog," Rand McNally Co., Chicago, 1888.

International Druggist, San Antonio Drug Co., Price Supplement, June, 1914. 

American Druggist Price Book, fifth edition, 57th St New York, New York, 1933.

King's Views of Philadelphia. Illustrated Monographs. Part 1.Published by Moses King, New York. Copyright, 1900 by Moses King.

Odell, John, Indian Bottles and Brands, Maverick Publications, 1977.

Odell, John, Pontil Medicine Encyclopedia, privately published, 2000

bottles from Private collection of Jeff Grupenhoff