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?

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

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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. 

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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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Warner’s Safe Cure: Another Pressburg Gem!

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Back in December, I highlighted the sale of a beautiful blue/green Pressburg Safe Cure that had surfaced in Hungary. Never mind that Pressburg Safe Cures are rare, in and of themselves, but the color of that bottle made it even more so and it fetched $2325 on eBay. Well, another spectacular Pressburg Safe Cure surfaced this week on eBay. Not only was it in a similar blue/green color, but it retained about 90% of its label, albeit faded and content stained. Foreign language labels on Safe Cures are an added bonus. Well, I’m starting to run out of superlatives. The rarity of this example was not lost either and, in the end, it fetched $3421 for the seller in Poland. 

There is little more that can be said about Pressburg Safe Cures and their place in the hierarchy of rare cures that I and others have not already said. This beautiful example will undoubtedly grace someone’s collection for years to come. I only hope we continue to see more examples of rare Warner’s Safe Cures. By the way, if you are sitting on a Pressburg Rheumatic Cure, we need to talk!  Special thanks to Piotr for allowing me to use his pictures of this latest Pressburg gem.

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Warner’s Safe Cure – Puric Acid?

Warner's Safe Cure - The Hamilton Journal News - 15 Mar 1895

This advertisement ran in the March 15, 1895 edition of The Hamilton Journal. In my research of newspaper advertising run by the Warner’s Safe Remedies Company and its successors, I have found that Warner often ran the same ads in different newspapers, probably to save on the costs associated with creating new ads; however, this ad in 1895 would have been after Warner left the company in 1893. It strikes the same tone and themes concerning kidney disease.

Perhaps the more interesting thing is the title “Puric Acid in the Blood.” I am not sure if this was a typo by the newspaper or just ignorance. To my limited medical knowledge, there is no such thing as puric acid. There is, of course, uric acid, which is a byproduct of the metabolic breakdown of “purines” and at high enough levels can lead to the development of gout, which is also mentioned in the ad. Perhaps that is where the confusion arose. Never fear….Safe Cure to the rescue!

Warner Remedies Company – Warren, Pennsylvania – The Rest of the Story

In my last post on Warner’s Compound, I included a copy of the circular, which referenced Warner’s Remedies Company located in Warren, Pennsylvania. Now, I have been collecting Warner’s Safe Cures going on forty years and have never heard that the American Office of Warner’s Safe Remedies Company was located anywhere other than Rochester, New York.

After 1893, the ownership changed hands and H. H. Warner went on to attempt some other patent medicine startups (e.g. Nuera Remedy Company and Warner’s Renowned Remedies), but they were independent of the Safe Remedies Company.

Warner's Compound 2

It seems that the Warner Remedies Company may have endured a bit longer than I had thought. It has always been conventional wisdom that the Remedies Company faded into oblivion by the mid 1940′s. The Warner’s Compound circular was the first evidence I have ever seen of an alternate location. Which begs the question, as Paul Harvey used to say, “what is the rest of the story?”

I was intrigued by this tidbit and checked with by source for “all things Warner,” Jack Stecher.  Jack confirmed that he was unfamiliar with the Warren, Pennsylvania connection. Well, if Jack Stecher doesn’t know, it’s not known. With a little bit of internet research, I was able to solve the mystery. Warren, Pennsylvania appears to be a small hamlet in the far western part of the state near Lake Erie. In the April 25, 1947 edition of the Warren Times Mirror, the following article appeared:

Warner's Remedies Company - Warren Times Mirror - 25 Apr. 1947

 It seems that an otherwise unidentified local entrepreneur from Warren purchased the remaining assets of the Warner Remedies Company and moved them lock, stock and barrel to western Pennsylvania. The article has clear errors, including the statement that the company had done business in Rochester since 1890. It would be more correct to say since 1879.  I could find no additional articles on the Warren Office of Warner’s Remedies Company or how much longer it continued to exist. Only time will tell.

Warner’s Safe Cure: Marketing is Everything!

Warner's Compound (McMurray 2013)

Although H. H. Warner lost control of his Safe Cure empire in 1893 as the result of a history of bad investments, against which he leveraged the business that had made him a household name, his brand name endured for decades. Now that’s brand identification. The Warner Remedies brand survived into the 1930′s and 1940′s without its namesake.

While it never again reached the heights of popularity it experienced in the mid-1880′s, the Warner name became synonymous with medicines the average American could appreciate. Over the 60-odd years of its existence, Warner’s Remedies offered a consistent message: “bad health begins with the kidneys”. Now, whether you agree with that or not, it apparently struck a chord with the average consumer. Going back to the earliest Safe Cure almanacs, Warner attributed a host of maladies to poor kidney function. Indeed, his supposed brush with death as a result of Bright’s Disease was the result of improper kidney function.  In an age where most Americans did not have access to regular medical care, the explanation seemed a plausible one. Warner capitalized on the notion that Americans could be empowered to heal themselves and he was more than happy to provide a means to that end.

Warner's Compound 1 Warner's Compound 2

Indeed, the word “SAFE” in Safe Cure was both an homage to Warner’s early business success in the fireproof safe business and an assurance that his “medicines” were not harmful to the consumer. While the truth of that remains unknown, it is more likely that they were not helpful either. Gradually, Warner and “Safe Cure” or “Safe Remedy” became synonymous and the products flourished. Even so, the company never strayed far from the notion that all disease, whatever its manifestation, could be traced to malfunctioning kidneys. And, even after the “Safe” was long dropped from the name and the bottles went from embossed to screw top (pictured above), the importance of renal health remained the predominant theme. It simply resonated with the American public. Never mind that it was complete and utter nonsense. While malfunctioning kidneys can cause problems in the human body, they are most certainly not the source of all disease. If it were only that simple. Well, as Mr. Warner knew, a simple and consistent message is powerful marketing.

Warner’s Safe Cure: Beautiful Blue/Green Pressburg

 

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This year has certainly been interesting from the standpoint of rare Warner’s surfacing for auction and sale.  Most recently that list includes a beautiful blue/green Pressburg Safe Cure pictured above, which fetched $2325 on eBay this past weekend.  When you talk about Warner’s Safe Cures, anything from the Pressburg Office (1888-1890) is considered rare. That is because that office was only open for two years and likely produced and sold fewer cures than any other office.

Within the category of Pressburgs, there is also a range of rare to most rare. For example, an amber Pressburg Safe Cure is perhaps the least rare of the Pressburg Safe Cures produced, while the Pressburg Diabetes Cure is perhaps the most rare. When the focus shifts to color, it has been my experience that Pressburg Safe Cures appear in three colors: amber, olive green and aqua. Of those three, aqua is, by far, the rarest. The seller of this Pressburg Safe Cure billed it as “NEVER SEEN BEFORE TYPE AND COLOUR.” The color was described as “apple green,” while the type included the embossing of “two crossed hammers” depicted in the photo below.

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Without seeing the bottle in person and in natural light, color is difficult to judge. The photos that accompanied the eBay listing looked more like a deep aqua to me.  Even if that were true, it would still place this bottle among the rarest Pressburgs. I believe I have seen less than five examples of aqua Pressburgs in my years of collecting Warner’s. I am unable to offer any explanation of the crossed hammers, other than it was the mark of the manufacturer.  I don’t think that mark changes the “type,” which is still a Pressurg Safe Cure. The embossing on Pressburg Safe Cures is never very strong, but this example shows pretty good embossing strength. Having said all of that, the successful bidder on this bottle added a real gem to his or her collection.  Moreover, the seller haled from a town in Hungary just south of Budapest, so this bottle actually surfaced from its original market, where it has resided for almost 125 years. Here are a few more pictures from the seller:

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