Most bottle collectors specialize in some area: figural bitters, mason jars, poisons, milk bottles, etc. The list of possible specialities is as limitless as your imagination. When I first started collecting, a friend collected only “purple bottles” (those with sufficient manganese in the glass to cause them to turn purple when exposed sufficiently to the ultraviolet rays of the sun). Whatever area of specialization you may choose, it is helpful to know what the universe of bottles within that area is, although for some types, there is no catalog by which to gauge you collection (i.e. purple bottles). With respect to collecting Warner’s Safe Cures, collectors are blessed to have access to catalogs and price guides that have emerged over the years based on the knowledge that existed when they were published.
What I mean by that, is that with every year that passes, the universe of Warner’s changes – however, minutely. When Mike Seeliger published his book in 1974, he did so based on the knowledge of what was available to Warner’s collectors at that time. There was no Internet, so collectors in the United States had a more difficult time getting foreign Warner’s and had to rely upon those that showed up at bottle shows or in the classified ad pages of Old Bottle Magazine. By the time that Ed Ojea and Jack Stecher published their guide over 20 years later, the world of Warner’s collecting had shifted dramatically with the appearance of varients not cataloged by Seeliger. Jack’s own collection was perhaps one of the most complete ever assembled. The arrival of the Internet and auction sites like Ebay, Glass Works and American Bottle Autions have changed the landscape for buying and selling Warner’s, especially ones located in places like Australia and New Zealand and even in the former Eastern Communist block of Europe.
There is no best way to collect Warner’s, except to dive in and learn as much as you can about what is available. Most collectors will tell you that even among the known varieties, there exist a broad range of color variations as well as those that have retained their labels and/or contents. A few so-called “one of a kinds” exist and I am fortunate to own a couple, but, for the most part, a Warner’s collector can assemble a wonderful collection based just upon known and available varients.
So……what are you waiting for?
Dave Kyle assembled one of the great Warner’s collections ever. He has moved on to figural bitters, but above are some pictures to give you an idea of the scope of his collection. Thanks Dave!