Z-M-O Oil History
ZMO For Pain
Bottle, circa. 1900
Photo courtesy Sara & Larry Kitchen
Please Note: ZMO Oil is an external preparation.
This 1903 history describes internal uses which are discouraged by The ZMO
History of Z-M-O
By Max R. Zaegel, 1903
Sheboygan, Wisconsin, a city situated on a high bluff on the shores
of Lake Michigan, decided to put in a system of sewerage and water works.
In front of Mr. Zaegel's drug store, situated on a prominent corner of the
main street, the trenches dug were very deep, and in order to interfere as
little as possible with the traffic, quite narrow, giving the men employed
anything but an abundance of room to perform their arduous duties. With conditions
as above described, accidents, in spite of all precautions adopted, were
unavoidable, and one day a workman so employed was brought into the drug
store with an ugly wound caused by another workman striking a pickax through
his hand. As before stated, this was an ugly, lacerated wound much worse
than that caused by any sharp instrument, and not only very painful, but
most difficult to heal, and bleeding profusely. Mr. Zaegel was personally
present in the drug store at the time, and was requested, in the absence of
a surgeon, to give such temporary treatment as might be necessary. As the
man showed evidence of fainting, caused by the shock and pain, he was lead
to a chair behind the prescription case and the wound was carefully cleansed
with a sponge and warm water, and a little brandy given to revive him. Mr.
Zaegel then, upon carefully examining the wound, determined (in the absence
of a surgeon to apply the customary stitches) the only thing to do would
be to apply some preparation that would possess the following qualifications.
1) It must be of an astringent nature to stop the flow
With these three essential features in his mind, he took a one ounce bottle
out of the case and made a combination of oils from the many bottles on the
shelves. Upon his return to the man he applied a wad of cotton to the wound,
and upon saturating the cotton with this oil, all present were pleased to
hear the man utter an exclamation of joy and ease, as the moment the oil
penetrated the wound all pain was gone and the bleeding stopped as if by
2) It must possess anodyne properties to relieve the pain.
3) It must contain antiseptics to prevent the formation of pus or matter,
and so give nature an opportunity to repair the injury done.
Next a gauze bandage was wrapped around the hand to retain in place the now
medicated cotton, the balance of the oil in the bottle given to the man with
instruction to occasionally pour a little of the oil on the cotton, not to
disturb the wound in any manner and to return to the drug store within a
These instructions were carefully carried out; the man came at the expiration
of the time above named, the dressing was removed and the wound found to
be clean and healthy -- almost entirely well, causing the man no inconvenience
Shortly after that an accident happened in a plumbing shop in that city,
where a man was severely injured. Here again, the oil did such a marvelous
work that many of the work men then employed on the street would come into
the drugstore and ask for some of "that oil," as they would call it.
Mr. Zaegel put up a pint, instructing his clerks to give this oil in all
cases where the application of a quick healing, pain destroying remedy was
It is needless to repeat the many marvelous cures this oil effected before
it was placed on the market.
Suffice it to say that the quantity of a pint was soon increased to a gallon;
then to five gallons, and so remarkable did the demand increase that Mr.
Zaegel found it could not be put up quickly enough by hand, so a bottling
machine was put up in the laboratory, this connected with galvanized iron
tanks, holding 10,000 bottles, and instead of a one ounce bottle as was used
for the first mixture, it is now made in quantities of hundreds of gallons
at a time.
The next step to make this a commercial success was to give it a name, one
that could be duly registered, and so guard the public as well as the manufacturer
against fraudulent imitations. The name determined upon was "Zaegel's Magic
Oil," but in order to legally protect it, it became necessary to adopt a
fanciful design. This consists of a circle, and in the center of this the
capital letter "Z. M. O," which are an abbreviation of the words "Zaegel's
Magic Oil," thus enabling all to intelligently distinguish and identify the
product should imitations be offered in its stead.
Many similar preparations contain dangerous drugs the use of which are detrimental
to the system:
Z.M.O. is free from Morphine, Cocaine, Opium, Chloral or other dangerous drugs
and can be in all cases be used without injurious after effects.
Z.M.O. applied over the seat of pain and rubbed with the palm of the hand,
will penetrate through the skin, the muscles, the membranes, and clear down
to the very bone, giving instant relief to pain.
This is a demonstrated fact, certified to by thousands of unsolicited testimonials
on file in our office from all parts of the world. It is better than the
so-called liniments, because, after relieving the pain, it restores, in many
cases strength and vitality to the affected parts.
Z.M.O. has been found better than all salves and ointments for the treatment
of cuts, sores, and burns as it penetrates into the wound and through its
antiseptic properties prevents formation of pus or matter thus assuring a
speedy healing of the wound.
This makes Z.M.O. an ideal household remedy. The pain of rheumatism, neuralgia,
backache, gout, sprains, bruises, or toothache has to be reached before it
can be routed.
This oil reaches pain by penetration. It is one of its strong points.
Inflammation can't stay in any part of the body after it is applied over
the pain. If you meet with a accident, get a cut, bruise or burn, saturate
a piece of cotton or a soft rag with Z.M.O. and apply to the wound. It will
prevent painful swelling, take out soreness and soothe and heal the injury
quicker than anything you ever tried.
If you catch cold in the chest and lungs, rub it thoroughly into breast and
back and you'll feel all right in a few hours.
There is need in every household for something that can be relied on to stop
pain. In connection with Zaegel's Essence it is the surest relief for Rheumatism
that we know of, and we know them all. Carefully read the directions on the
following pages and you will find Z.M.O. the greatest household remedy ever
placed upon the market.
Pain in Back. If caused by a cold or overwork, a few applications give prompt
relief. If, however, the cause of pain is Rheumatism or an affection of the
kidneys, take enough of Zaegel's Essence to move the bowels, and apply Z.M.O.,
rubbing it well into the back. This treatment will promptly stimulate the
kidneys to their normal and healthful action and drive out all the pain and
Remember: This history was written in 1903. Today,
The ZMO Company discourages any internal use of Z-M-O Oil.
For Coughs and Colds gargle with salt water (to clear the throat) and follow
this with a half teaspoonful of Z.M.O., sipping it from the spoon and allowing
it to slowly trickle down the throat. Also rub chest and back well with the
oil and in severe cases apply on bandages around throat at night.
For Earache and Deafness hold half a teaspoonful of Z.M.O. over steam of
tea kettle until warm, apply on cotton in the ears, also rub Z.M.O. back
of the ears.
For Toothache dry the cavity first with a piece of cotton, then apply Z.M.O.
on cotton placed upon the end of a match or toothpick. Also rub gums with
same on tip of finger.
End of 1903 History
Advertising Flyers from
the Zaegel Company in 1912
Photo courtesy Joe Jankowski
Clockwise from the top: Mailing envelope, 1912 Calendar, Zaegel's Lung Balsam
Flyer, Z-M-O Healing Oil Flyer, 1912 List of ZMO Retailers. Center: Zaegel's Essence
History as published since the 1950's
In the days of the westward movement of America, the early trail
blazers were followed by their families in covered wagons. They brought with
them not only their meager farm tools and household possessions but a rich
lore in food preparation, in crop planting methods, and in simple but effective
remedies to keep themselves healthy in a then alien country.
Among those hardy souls who found their way into what is now Wisconsin was
M. R. "Doc" Zaegel. Doc Zaegel was a pharmacist. He had brought with him
his jars and canisters of precious curing oils and boxes of myrrh and aloes.
All were simple but time-tested remedies for the repair and maintenance of
the human body. In his little chemist shop in Sheboygan, he mixed salves,
syrups, ointments, and powders that he administered to those in need.
Doc Zaegel had a broad knowledge of the uses and curative properties
of his medicines. He experimented constantly in an attempt to find ONE general
remedy that could be used for all the minor aches and pains of those early
pioneers. He tried combinations of many kinds - some were good and some did
no more than provide gentle relief to the ailing.
Over the years, however, he gradually formulated an oil combining the best
of all of his early experiments. He dispensed the oil in bottles to all who
came seeking relief.
Since many of the purchasers of his new and improved product lived
far out in the wilderness, and many moved on further west, he actually heard
very little in reference to the success of his new oil. But as the years passed,
early buyers came back to his little shop in Sheboygan and bought more. Each
told their own tale of the near miracles Doc Zaegel's oil had brought about.
It was in the late 1870's though, an accident took place that
made the name of old Doc Zaegel famous in the area. During the construction
of the railroad through Wisconsin, and as the track was being laid in Sheboygan,
a hapless laborer was the victim of a crushing and painful injury. His fellow
workers filled with experience in this sort of accident felt deeply that
the injured man would never recover. At the frantic call of the railroad workers,
Doc Zaegel rushed to aid the stricken laborer. Armed with only his knowledge
of how to help and a bottle of his curing oil, he arrived at the scene of
the accident. First, he did what he could to cleanse the wounds and then
he gently massaged the afflicted parts with the healing combination he had
mixed. Almost as a miracle, the pains began to disappear and the period of
healing was so rapid and complete the wondrous stories of Zaegel's Magic
Oil began to be told all along the railroad.
Train construction men and crews moving along the line told one
another the story of Zaegel's oil and orders began to come to the chemist's
shop from everywhere. Following the orders came more stories and testimonials
to the wonderful properties of this new discovery.
As the demand became greater, Doc Zaegel began to bottle his oil for shipment
to points all over America and the world.
Following the orders came more stories and testimonials to the
wonderful properties of this new discovery. Others, finding it helpful in
the treatment of their own ills, used it on their livestock. Claims poured
into Zaegel's now growing pharmacy telling of saving cattle and horses through
its use on barb wire cuts, shipping fevers, and infections.
Zaegel began to advertise his product about the turn of the century and early
advertisements proclaimed it "a pain relieving oil for man or beast." A remedy
to "assist nature in the healing of a wound that is better than any salve
or ointment because it does not lay on the skin, but penetrates into the
He changed the name because of this particular trait to "Zaegel's
Magnetic Oil" and then later, because of the popular reference to the product,
he again changed the name to simply Z-M-O® Oil as it is known
NOTE: Bottles embossed "Z-M-O -- Zaegel's Magnetic Oil"
still exist and have been found in bottle collections and on display in country
After the death of Doc Zaegel, Mace Laboratories Inc. of Neenah, Wisconsin,
took over the manufacture of Z-M-O®. In 1965, H. C. Glessner
of Findlay, Ohio, purchased the Z-M-O® formula and formed the
Z-M-O® Company. They continued to fill mail orders for the
many faithful users of Z-M-O®. In 1976, the family of Ruth
and Russell Schaffner (long time customers of Z-M-O®) bought
the company and relocated it to Grove City, Ohio. The current Owners are Ronald and Doris (Schaffner)
and Marie Schaffner, Keith Johnson, and Philip Schaffner. They are happy that they
can still supply you with this very same good healing, First Aid Oil.
After more than 100 years of constant use, Z-M-O®
still maintains the confidence of its thousands of users everywhere.
Z-M-O's® original formula patent issued October 10, 1899,
has never been changed - the contents of Z-M-O® are identical
to those in the oil used so many years ago.
The makers of Z-M-O® have never maintained that
the oil is a substitute for a physician's care or advice, but it is a praiseworthy
and time-tested product. It is a mild and highly effective medication for
deep-down under-the-skin penetration. As with all medications, keep Z-M-O®
out of the reach of children. Z-M-O® heals without burning
and, if used as directed, is safe for every member of the family - even Tabby
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J. H. & B. V.
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