Were it not for Dr. Charles Craig, would H. H. Warner have ventured into the patent medicine business? This question can be contemplated on two different levels. First, as described in an earlier post, Warner’s health had deteriorated in 1879 as the result of some form of kidney ailment, which necessitated his use of Craig’s remedy and second, Warner’s decision to acquire and market Craig’s concoction.
After receiving less than satisfactory results from his physicians, Warner turned to Craig’s Cure for help. In his 2001 Biographic Sketch of Warner, Jack Stecher quotes from Warner’s 1879 Almanac in an article entitled “THE DISCOVERY.”:
The remedy was suggested to the mind of Dr. Chas. Craig, when lying at the point of death from Bright’s Disease, not as a probably cure for this presumably fatal terror, but as a possible relief from some of the intense pain he was suffering, and a help to his rebellious stomach. To his surprise, as soon as he had taken the first dose of this first weak vegetable decoctin, he felt better, and, continuing to take it, he was soon on his feet again, a well and strong man. After his recovery, he administered it to his neighbors similarly afflicted, and they also got well. By degrees, as the result of experience and professional consultation, other vegetable ingredients were added to quicken and increase its efficiency, and with the compound thus prepared, thousands of cases have been cured, and many of them to the astonishment of the patients and their acquaintences. Therefore, the sick-bed suggestion which came to the mind of Dr. Craig, has seemed to him and to others almost like a revelation.
Warner’s admiration for Dr. Craig was short-lived and his tribute was limited to the 1879-1880 Almanac. Stecher notes that Dr. Craig’s product was marketed by Warner with much fanfare and initially offered to the public by label as “The Original Dr. Craig’s Kidney Cure – An Absolute Specific For Bright’s Disease – Hulbert H. Warner.” The bottle label features his trademark four-leaf clover. The bottle is embossed “The Original/Dr. Craig’s/Kidney Cure/Rochester/NY.” Indeed, this is, in fact, the first Warner bottle as opposed to the shoulder-embossed Safe Cure so ofter touted.
The relationship between Craig and Warner continued to deteriorate. Although Craig had come to work for Warner, by 1882, he was back in business selling a product remarkably like the Safe Cure, whose rights had been purchased by Warner. Warner sought to enjoin the sale of this product, which Craig sold for 25 cents less per bottle than the Safe Cure. Ultimately, the Court sided with Warner and Craig was eventually driven into bankruptcy. A sad end for the man that no only inspired Warner’s Safe Cure, but who also (supposedly) saved Warner from certain death.
Photos courtesy of Glass Works Auctions and Jack Stecher.