Artifacts of Yesteryear

Bygone is the era of traveling salesmen peddling the “finest” goods door-to-door in sprawling suburban neighborhoods. Nowadays, even major retailers are stumbling in the face of burgeoning online sales. In tribute to the death of the salesman, we’ve compiled a list of the strangest kits that Studebaker driving salesmen brought to people’s doors.

Traveling Dentist’s Set


All made in the USA


Tooth kits were used by traveling dentists. They would carry hundreds of these teeth so that they could match the teeth already in your mouth. These weren’t really teeth, though—a salesman doesn’t want you to buy used teeth—they were made of ceramic.

The dentist that goes to you

Most people however liked their dentist coming to their door even less than they liked going to the dentist themselves. Some 18th century dentists were known to pull teeth without even getting off their horse.


Wilbert Individual Mausoleum from @wunderkamercast

Miniature Coffins


In the early 1900s you could have a sarcophagus salesman knocking at your door. These salesmen would carry miniature versions of coffins less than 6-inches tall.

“What can I do to get you in a coffin today?”

The Briefcase Grave

Another tool of the trade featured mock funeral plots inside of briefcases, so that salesmen could show you what you looked like 6-feet below and above!

Optician’s Kit


F. Davidson & Co. Optician’s Kit


From the 1902 Sears, Roebuck catalogue


This collection of single, round lenses was used by traveling opticians to diagnose your eye prescription in-home. Accompanying the lenses was a set of interchangeable lens frames, so that the door-to-door optician could provide a full experience of what it was like to see clearly.

Become an Optician at Sears University

The kits were also dubiously known as “trial kits” as the entire prescriptive process was simple trial and error.There weren’t any qualifications to sell glasses; all you had to do was buy your kit for as little as $27.85.


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