Monarch Saddles, Meyer Bannerman Saddle Co.. Sign, St Louis, MO. Circa 1900

Before the advent of the automobile in the late 1800’s, horse’s ruled the world for transportation. No one owned a horse without a saddle if they wanted a comfortable ride, and the Meyer-Bannerman Company in St. Louis, MO led the way in the U.S. for sales of their leather saddle ware.
As a non-horseman, I did not realize how many different styles of saddles are made for the riders. This amazing late 1800’s tin sign brilliantly outlines the company’s six different styles of leather saddles they manufactured at that time. Interestingly, the center of the saddles features and image of a lion. A lion? Why not a horse? Have you ever seen a lion with a saddle on it? I highly doubt it!
The Meyer-Bannerman Company was started in the year 1867 by Jacob and Isaac Meyer and J. James Bannerman. The company eventually grew to be huge, and their seven story warehouse plant at 616-618 North Sixth Street in downtown St. Louis produced more saddles than any other saddle manufacturer in the United States. However, by the late 1800’s with the advent of both big wheel bicycles which were all the rage, and the promise of a motorized car on the horizon, sales started to flounder. The company turned to the horse-less carriage so quickly that the Meyer-Bannerman company was out of business by 1909.
The main owner, J. James Bannerman mysteriously died in 1911 of carbolic acid poisoning. While seemingly in good spirits the evening of his death, he was found dead shortly thereafter in his home. Upon examination, the medical team found one ounce of carbolic acid in his stomach, which due to a strained relationship with some family members, was determined a questionable death. Mr. Bannermann had just run for the Mayor of St. Louis, and had lost. Did he commit suicide, or was he poisoned by a jealous family member? People of the day believed it was the later given his mood the day of his death. However, with the passage of time, we will never know. We are simply left with a few great advertising pieces the firm put out during their incredible run before the horseless carriage ended the need for horse’s as the main stay of transportation.