C.A. Seward

1884 - 1939

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The Mentholatum Company is yet another success story about one of the early entrepreneurs in Wichita, Kansas.  Seward’s early career is intertwined with this company and his friendship with its founder, A.A. Hyde.

Seward designed much of the early advertising and most likely the “Little Nurse” logo that is still in use today. He also created a small lithograph of the A.A. Hyde homestead.  One of the most fascinating pieces Seward designed for the Mentholatum Company was a small gift brochure.  The brochure came packaged in a clear envelope.  It contained a brief introducation to the Pigmies and then 9 pages of discussion about the uses of Mentholatum skin care products and the manufacturing of Mentholatum.  The brochure ends with a true Seward touch for it offers the consumer reproductions of “Masterpieces of Art.”  Nine available in a 6x8 size and 2 in 10x 5.  All with the clear notation that “There is no advertising on these pictures.”

A.A. Hyde (Albert Alexander) had ended his speculation in real estate when the market collapsed in Wichita in 1887.   To support his family he then established a new partnership to manufacture and market products like laundry and toilet soap and shaving cream.  The basis for these products was the Yucca plant and thus Hyde called this new endeavor The Yucca Company.

During this time Hyde also began experimenting with some pharmacist friends on a salve made from petrolatum and menthol that he called Metholatum.  This product was introduced in 1894 and quickly became so successful that in 1906 Hyde turned his Yucca Company into  The Metholatum Company. Hyde was said to be a very religious and altruistic man and when became a wealthy from his new Mentholatum ointment he used a great deal of his wealth to support his church.  He also wisely supported church missionaries working overseas by donating Metholatum Ointment.  The ointment became quiet popular in the far east and this is in part how the product gained worldwide attention and an international market. In 1903 to handle his booming sales, Hyde had opened an additional office in Buffalo, New York to manage his market east of the Mississippi River. By 1909 he had built a new factory in Wichita and by 1919 another in Buffalor. After Hyde’s death in 1935 the Wichita factory was closed and the corporate offices were moved to Delware and then later to Buffalo. Hyde had shared his wealth with schools, colleges, churches, and youth camps not only in Wichita but also worldwide. Hyde School, Hyde Park and Camp Hyde were all named in his honor.

Today the Mentholatum Company is an international corporation under the Japanese parent Company, Rohto.  It continues the production of Mentholatum Ointment as well as a wide range of other personal care products.

The Mentholatum Building constructed by A.A. Hyde at  Douglas Avenue and Cleveland remains a familiar landmark in Wichita


Seward - Mentholatum Corporation

Images on this page: Mentholatum advertising pieces including a ruler blotter and a contemporary print ad in Japanese also a photo of A.A. Hyde & the Mentholatum Building (Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum and Edgar B. Smith Photography Collection: Special Collections, WSU.) Seward in 1937, made the small etching of the Hyde home in Massachusetts. The brochure on the right and the small booklet in the right column are pieces known to have been designed by Seward.