Warner’s Safe Advertising: The Metropolitan Revisited

The Metropolitan (July 1890)

About 10 years ago, I stumbled across a great piece of Warner’s advertising for Log Cabin Remedies contained in a somewhat obscure literary magazine called The Metropolitan. In the late 19th Century, Americans did not have the distraction of broadcast media, let alone online media. Accordingly, they spent considerable time actually reading print media. The included books, newspapers and magazines among others. 

The Metropolitan was in the genre of the literary magazine, which featured short stories, history and poetry and, perhaps, some features rather than news. It appears to have been published in New York City and boasted a circulation of 500,000 copies per month. Even so, examples of the publication are hard to come by. I originally found a copy from January, 1888 which featured the Log Cabin Remedies ad. Until just recently, I assumed that it was unlikely I would ever see another issue. That is until I received an email from Eva. 

Eva was kind enough to share a copy of the July, 1890 edition with me. She had acquired it as part of a group of ephemera items. I was delighted to find that the edition contained one of my favorite Warner ads featuring “An Anchor to Health”. I had seen this ad before, but did not know it had been published in The Metropolian:

The Metropolitan (July 1890) 2

Warner frequently used nautical themes in his advertising and this is one of the best. The issue also featured another ad for Warner’s Safe Yeast, although this was far less unique. 

The Metropolitan (July 1890) 3A

Certainly there are more issues of The Metropolitan floating around out there and undoubtedly they contain more great Warner’s Safe Cure ads. Hopefully, it won’t take another 10 years for me to find one.

Warner’s Safe Cure: The Warner Observatory Revisited

The photograph below of The Warner Observatory from the Albert R. Stone Negative Collection of the Rochester Museum & Science Center shows the observatory sometime after its construction in 1883. This is, perhaps, one of the best quality

photographs of the structure, which survived until it was razed in 1931. In my research, I recently stumbled upon a nice blog  entitled “Retrofitting Rochester,” which included a history of The Warner Observatory by Taylor Daughton along with a reading of a contemporary description of the observatory and its constuction by a local historian:


It is unfortunate that this piece of Rochester history was lost to the wrecking ball. However, it is also true that, during its heyday, The Warner Observatory and its director,  Lewis Swift, actually contributed to the knowledge of astronomy at the time. Indeed, that knowledge might well be considered the true scientific legacy of H. H. Warner.

Warner’s Safe Cure: Those Green Tippecanoes!

Until 2011, the existence of a green Tippecanoe was, for me, a myth.  I said as much when I posted about them back then. I had seen plenty of amber Tippecanoes in various shades, including a few that arguably tended toward green if you held them to the light in just the right way. But, a truly green Tippecanoe was the unicorn. Well, the unicorn showed up in the summer of 2011 when the American Glass Gallery featured a green Tippe in its auction;

Green Tippecanoe

Now, Tippecanoes in good condition typically sell in the $150 range or more if they still have a label. The green Tippe is a whole ‘nother animal. In 2011, it fetched $8500. But, as well all know, price is based on rarity. At the time, the question became was this green Tippe a one-of-a-kind?  

In the seven years since then, that questions seems to have been answered in the negative. While the green Tippe is not a one-of-a-kind, it remains damn rare. Michael Seeliger recently shared with me that Michael and Kathy Craig have two in their collection in slightly different shades of green:

I also heard from Jeff Burkhardt, who was kind enough to send me a copy of a picture of a green Tippe in his collection:

Jeff’s picture is nice, because it shows the range of Tippecanoe colors from the olive green at the far left to the dark amber on the far right. I would say that the straw colored Tippe that is third from the left is also a tough bottle to find. While the Rochester Warner’s Safe bottles are not typically known for their range of color, the Tippecanoes offer a nice exception to that rule. If you get your hands on a green Tippe; hold on, you might not see another for a very long time.

The Giant of Medicines

This particular ad ran in the December 24, 1886 edition of the Conway Springs Star in Northfield, Kansas. This ad was not unique to that publication and, like many Warner’s Safe Cure ads, it was stock advertising that was distributed to newspapers throughout the United States.

I have always liked this ad because it embodies the hubris that was H. H. Warner.  First, the size of the ad was significant. This particular example occupied two columns for about 90% of the page.  Second,  in proclaiming itself “The Most Effective and Popular Remedy Ever Discovered,”  it did not mince words in staking its claims. Finally, I think that Mr. Warner tried to capture the attention of anyone suffering from any malady. His list is pretty comprehensive. We start out quite logically with Kidney Disease (which makes sense given the fact that it is a kidney and liver cure), Consumption (better known as Tuberculosis),  Impaired Eye Sight, Opium Habits, Rheumatism,  Bladder Disorders, Congestion, Female Complaints, Blood Disorders, Stomach Disorders,  Constipation, Piles and Headches.

The ad is basically about the wonders of Warner’s Safe Cure, but makes one mention of Warner’s Rheumatic Cure. Its strikes a familiar message in that all of these various maladies, according to Warner, sprang from problems with one’s kidneys.

When the “Giant of Medicines” ad appeared in 1886,  the Warner patent medicine business was at its peak, which probably accounts for the size of the ad and the breadth of its claims. As his fortunes waned into the 1890’s and he departed in 1893, the advertising continued, but there is a clear trend toward smaller ads. After the turn of the 20th Century, the ads placed for Warner’s Safe Remedies were definitely smaller and less boastful. Here is an example from 1925.

Warner’s Safe Cure: Tonic Bitters Wooden Box

With the exception of Safe Cure wooden boxes from Rochester, most of the Safe Remedies wooden boxes are pretty hard to come by.  I have NEVER seen one for Safe Tonic Bitters! Behold this rare beauty that now graces the collection of Terry McMurray.  Terry has many unique Warner’s Safe items in his extensive drug store collection and this one is no exception. If you had been lucky enough to be present when this wooden crate was originally opened, you might have seen something like this:

Warner’s Safe Cure: “N.Z.” on Melbourne Rheumatic Cure Label

My most recent post explored a new theory about how the Warner’s Safe Remedies Company claimed an office in Dunedin, New Zealand without the benefit of any bricks and mortar to back it up. As long as we are Downunder, let’s take a look at another little mystery that has arisen courtesy of a labelled Safe Rheumatic Cure that resides in the collection of our friend Trevor Gatfield.



Now, labelled Safe Cures from Melbourne are pretty hard to come by in the first place. I have a few in my collection, but they are the H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd. bottles that were most likely manufactured in Melbourne and used later. They allowed the Safe Remedies Co. to use the same bottle but the change the label as needed depending on the contents, Safe Cure, Nervine, etc. 

This bottle is clearly a earlier bottle, because it is embossed with the Safe. As I, and others have theorized, the early Melbourne bottles were not manufactured in Australia, but rather in the United States and shipped to Australia for sale.  Whether they were filled and labelled in the United States is unknown. But take a closer look at this label. Warner’s labels tended to highlight the city of origin at the bottom of the label. In this case “Melbourne.”  While this bottle has “Melbourne” on the image of the Safe on the label:

Label Crop 2

It clearly features “Rochester” at the base of the label:

Label Crop 1

The best part, however, requires you to rotate the bottle ever so slightly to the right, so that you can see the left side of the label. What you see is this:

Label Crop 3

“N.Z.” and “Rheu.” are clearly printed at the lower left of the label. “Rheu.” clearly means “Rheumatic Cure,”  and “N.Z.” must mean New Zealand. But this is not a 4-Cities bottle? I admit, I have not seen this little labeling anomaly before. Indeed, I might have missed it if Trevor had not brought it to my attention. While its significance remains open to interpretation, I would suggest that it means that this bottle predates the 4-Cities bottles, but was destined for distribution in New Zealand. Without this portion of the label in tact, this would have been just another Melbourne Rheumatic Cure and, in that regard, is similar to the French label on a London Safe Cure. Nice find Trevor!

Warner’s Safe Cure: Dunedin Reconsidered – The 4-Cities Office (1891-1900)

I’ve been doing this blog now for over 10 years and sometimes I struggle with trying to find new material that hasn’t been covered in one way or another. That accounts for my somewhat infrequent and spotty posting. Fortunately, there are other Warner’s Safe Cure collectors out there, who rescue me and help me find new material or even correct some of my misconceptions or erroneous conclusions. Enter Trevor Gatfield.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Trevor challenging a notion that I had posted back on  June 11, 2008. Namely, that, even though Warner claimed to have a Dunedin (I used to misspell it Dundein – sorry to my Kiwi friends) Office, it may not have actually existed. https://warnerssafeblog.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/warners-foreign-offices-melbourne-1887-1915-and-dundein-1891-1900. 

This conclusion was based upon the fact that I had never seen any evidence of a physical location in Dunedin. This can be compared with the offices in Rochester, London and Melbourne, among others, that had documented offices with published addresses in the contemporary literature.  While Trevor did not have evidence of a building in Dunedin with a Warner’s Safe Remedies sign on it, he postulated that the Dunedin Office was, in fact, the office of Kempthorne,  Prosser & Co.,  The New Zealand Drug Co., Ltd., who according to a December 22, 1900 article in the New Zealand Times were SOLE AGENTS for Warner’s Safe Cure. They were headquartered at 31 Stafford Street in Dunedin with other offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 

Kempthorne, Prosser preexisted the Warner’s Safe Remedies Co. having started in business in 1869 and lasted well after the remnants of Warner’s were long gone, closing its doors in 1978. 

Trevor was kind enough to  discover a couple photos of their offices;  however, as of this date we do not have permission to use those photographs. We hope to link to them later with permission. In the interim, I found a picture of the Wellington Office as well as a advertising card from 1901.


While I don’t want to read too much into the apparent use of a Sole Agency as giving Warner’s Safe Remedies a physical presence in a foreign city, such as Dunedin, it might shed light on how Warner could claim a presence in other cities like Paris, Brussels, Belgium, Rangoon, Burma or Kreuzlingen, Switzerland.  The proof of such a hypothesis would require us to determine, which company, if any, held the sole agency for Warner’s Safe Remedies in those cities. Unlike Dunedin, which boasts the 4-Cities bottles,  there are no bottles with embossing for Paris, Brussels, Rangoon or Kruezlingen. There is one French label Safe Cure and, of course, the mysterious “No City” Safe Cure that first appeared several years ago.

Thanks to Trevor for stirring this pot. Sometimes you need to take a second look at what seems to be established fact. Of course, we cannot know what H. H. Warner intended, but it’s fun to make some educated guesses. If you have any more information on Kempthorne, Prosser & Co. or its connection to the Warner’s Safe Remedies Co. as sole agent in New Zealand, please let me know.