Warner’s Safe Cure: Terry McMurray’s Circa 1900 Drug Store Museum

Over the years, Terry McMurray has had some of the best Warner’s Safe Cure collectibles available both for auction and in her personal collection. Back in 2001, I was privileged to be included in one of the best Warner’s Safe Cure exhibits ever assembled at the Rochester Show. Terry was among the exhibitors and his contributions included some Warner’s advertising posters that I have never seen elsewhere. He is opening a Circa 1900 Drug Store Museum that features all sorts of wonderful patent medicine memorabilia and includes some of his Safe Cure gems.


Warner’s Safe Cure: Tippecanoe in Color

Other than the classic Safe Cure bottle, H. H. Warner’s other significant contribution to collectors was in the form of his figural bitters -Tippecanoe. Tippecanoe replaced Warner’s early bitters line, which included Safe Bitters, Safe Tonic and Safe Tonic Bitters. It was also highlighted by the unique log-shaped bottle. Over the years, I have seen many examples of the Tippecanoe bottle, including those in shades of green, those with misspellings of the word “Rochester” on the base and those will full or nearly full labels.  More often than not, the labelled Tippecanoes boast labels that are brown or very nearly so, often with content staining or other damage. Recently, however, an nicer example showed up on eBay.

Tippecanoe Labelled2

Although this example is missing some portions of the label, it has retained some of the original color that is often missing from Tippecanoe labels. This is especially true of the light blue-green background coloring. This is also an example of the rarer of the two labels – “XXX Bitters”.  The other variant – “The Best” is seen more frequently, although labelled Tippecanoes are scarce commodities nonetheless.

Tippecanoe Labelled

Warner’s Safe Cure: A True Panacea

The Daily Republican (Monongahela, PA) 26 Jan 1887 – on Newspapers.com //

Over the years, I have seen an awful lot of advertising by H. H. Warner and the Warner’s Safe Remedies Company. After all, if Warner was nothing else, he was a master of advertising and marketing. He realized the unparalleled importance of  convincing the public that his medicines were the key to good health. His “Safe Cure” not only had the power to remedy ills of the kidneys and liver, but a host of other maladies that afflicted the public. 
The ad below appeared in the January 26, 1887 edition of The Daily Republican, published in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.  It is, perhaps, one of the best summaries of the range of problems to which Warner’s Safe Cure could attend. A few of them, I had never seen before, including Opium Habits and Constipation. 
The Daily Republican (Monongahela, PA) 26 Jan 1887


Warner’s Safe Cure: A Wild West Safe

If you have researched H. H. Warner to any small degree or, for that matter, followed this blog with any regularity, you know that the presence of an iron safe as the trademark image on his patent medicines is no accident. It is, in fact, a rather clever piece of branding used by Warner to allude to his business experience and to imply that his product was beneficial to the user. Needless to say, it worked. While Warner’s Safe Cure and fireproof safe businesses overlapped in the 1880’s, the safe business was on the wane. That is not to say that it was not a successful business. Indeed, Warner made his first fortune in selling safes and was wealthy before the first bottle of Safe Cure ever hit the streets.

Warner's Safe

Every once in a while, one of the original Warner’s iron safes will surface. Indeed, I profiled one about four years ago as being “The Ultimate Go-With.”  Just recently, another appeared for sale on eBay. This particular safe is in pretty good shape, considering that it has been around now for over 130 years. It is marked with the familiar “Mosler,  Bahmann & Co. along with “H. H. Warner, Gen’l Ag’t”. Even more interesting is the history of this particular safe. It ended up in Tombstone, Arizona. That’s right, the same Tombstone that was the site of one of the most infamous gun fights at the OK Corral involving Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. 

Safe 2

The seller, Karl, has been kind enough to allow me to use his pictures with this post. His eBay listing also provides a history on Wyatt Earp. This just goes to show you that there was, in fact, actual Warner’s Safes before the patent medicines ever graced store shelves in 1879. Unlike Warner, however, the Mosler Safe Company survived into the 21st Century and continued to produce safes. Pretty neat.

Safe 3 Safe 4 Safe 5 Safe 6 Safe 7 Safe 8 Safe 10 Safe 11 Safe 12

Warner’s Safe Cure Blog Images on Pinterest

Safe Cure Blog on Pinterest


In addition to the social media that most of us are familiar with, there is another genre that I was marginally familiar with, but had not paid it much attention. It is the whole group of social media sites devoted to “pinning” images into, what amounts to, a virtual scrapbook. Chief among these so-called pinning sites is Pinterest.

Periodically, I search for images of Warner’s Safe Cure bottles and ephemera to use on this blog. As a rule,  I try to ask permission of the person who owns the image, before using it. I find that most folks, including auction sites, are willing to allow me to use the images provided I give them credit.  However, I started to see a trend of many of my Warner’s pictures, or those I had obtained permission to use, showing up on sites without any accreditation or permission. 

One of the really nice things about collecting Warner’s Safe Cures is that there is an almost unlimited supply of images, both of the bottles and of the advertising that help build the Safe Cure empire. My objective has always been for my blog to provide not only Warner’s Safe history, but also access to images. With that in mind, I have created my own Pinterest board devoted to Warner’s Safe Cure images. I am happy to share those images with interested collectors and would only ask for credit if they are reposted or reblogged.  I also welcome any contributions of Safe Cure images to add to the board. It will take a while to add all of my Safe Cure images to the board, but I hope you will check back regularly.

The address for my Pinterest board is: http://www.pinterest.com/jackson4060/warners-safe-cure-blog-in-photographs/.

Warner’s Safe Cure: “No City” Safe Cure – Part 2

Well, I really did not expect to be doing a followup post on the “No City” Safe Cure, at least, not this soon.  At any rate, it seems that the “No City” bottle that prompted my original post has at least one sibling.  I had considered the original bottle to be an anomaly or, perhaps, a weak strike or undocumented mold error. Any of those explanations may still be true, but yet another piece to this strange puzzle was added by Tony DiMarco.

Tony contacted me after my first post and advised me that this was not the first example of a “No City” Safe Cure to surface. Apparently, another surfaced in June of 2013 on eBay. It sold for $ 580.  Tony was able to provide me with copies of the pictures that accompanied that bottle, but no contact info on the original seller. While the pictures are not the best, one of them does appear to show a Safe Cure sans embossed city. Moreover, Tony said that the information he had was that the bottle originated in Switzerland, which is supposedly where the first bottle surfaced.  Thanks to Tony for the information and the pictures. In his opinion, the bottle looks like a hybrid of Safe Cure bottles from the London, Toronto (3-Cities) and Frankfurt offices.

Warner's Safe Cure  (DiMarco)Warner's Safe Cure - No City (DiMarco)

So, where does that leave us. Could the second “No City” be the same bottle being resold? I thought of that and there is no way to rule that out. However, the above bottle features a gash or scratch in the area where the city name would normally be found. I don’t see a similar mark of the first “No City” bottle.

Certainly, Tony’s information adds to the possibility that the “No City” Safe Cure is a legitimate new Warner variant with ties to the Swiss market. I’m not there yet, but I am willing to believe. Over the years, I have heard tell of other undocumented Warner variants. I think that Jack Stecher or Mike Seeliger once mentioned someone claimed to have an Animal Cure from Melbourne. That never surfaced. Having said that, I suspect that, at one time, the Pressburg Safe Cure was little more than rumor. For now, I am keeping an open mind and would welcome any more information and photographs of this seemingly rare breed of Warner’s Safe Cure.

Warner’s Safe Cure: “No City” Safe Cure?


Photograph used by permission. Copyright (©2014wermuthgrafik.ch)


Photograph used by permission. Copyright (©2014wermuthgrafik.ch)

While we are all familiar with the so-called “3-Cities” (Toronto) and “4-Cities” (Dundein, New Zealand) Safe Cures, no one had ever showed me an example with no city on the base. Not, at least, until recently, when one appeared on eBay. The bottle was auctioned by a seller in Switzerland and fetched just under $1000 by auction’s end.  My first reaction to the bottle was one of skepticism. How could a completely unheard of Warner variant appear for the first time after all these years? And, why would Warner package a product that omitted it’s point of origin? If nothing else, Warner seemed to take great pride in his foreign offices, which he bragged “Belted the Globe” with his Safe Cure. This bottle is truly a mystery. 


Warner’s Safe Cure Almanac for 1891

My other instinct was that perhaps it was an example of a bottle with extremely light embossing or perhaps the embossing had worn down to the point it was unreadable. For example, many of the Pressburg Safe Cures I have seen over the years are poorly embossed. Even so, I had never seen one where the embossing was undetectable. Although I did not have the opportunity to see the bottle first hand, the pictures posted by the seller and reproduced above seem to show no city embossed. At least, none that I can detect. In all other regards, the bottle looks very similar to ones issued by the Warner Office in Frankfurt, Germany. 

After the auction, I contacted the seller, who kindly allowed me to use his images of the bottle. He was unable to provide much history on the bottle, except that it came from a store near Zurich. Although Warner clearly issued bottles from his foreign offices in Europe, including London, Frankfurt and Pressburg, he also claimed to have a presence in Switzerland. The 1891 Safe Cure Almanac is one of my favorites, because its cover highlights the international reach of Warner. If you look closely at the hands reaching out toward the Safe Cure box, each of the sleeves is marked with a foreign office. The third sleeve down on the right clearly says “Dundein, New Zealand”. You also cannot help but notice that the sleeve directly opposite it is marked “Rangoon, Burma”.  Burma, really? Guess that sounds exotic.

I have previously posted about foreign offices claimed by Warner, but, for which we have little or no evidence in the form of a bottle. One example was the Paris Office.  Over the years, I have seen examples of Warner advertising claiming a Paris Office, but never any bottle embossed “Paris” at the base. The closest thing I have ever seen in that regard is a London Safe Cure with a French label. Without the label, it would simply be another London Safe Cure. 


Warner's Safe Cure with French Label

   Warner’s Safe Cure London with French Label

Perhaps there were Safe Cures sold in Switzerland or Belgium or even Burma with labels targeted for those populations, but without embossing attributing them to those locations.  At this point, one can only speculate. Which brings us back to what I have called the “No City” Safe Cure.  I believe its point of origin will remain a mystery until another example surfaces.  For now, it remains a unique example of Warner’s Safe Cure.