In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with warnings about identity theft and fraud committed with the assistance of computers. Apparently, the topic of fraud was much on the mind of proprietors like Warner in the late 19th Century. Indeed, it appears that he was positively preoccupied with the subject. The inside cover pages of his 1882 Book of $2000.00 Prize Enigmas are devoted almost entirely to the subject of Fraud and Detection of Fraud. Although no particular source of fraud is cited, one wonders if Warner’s ongoing dispute with Dr. Charles Craig did not give rise to his concerns. Although Craig sold the formula and rights to Warner, he later reemerged and began to market a similar concoction.
For his part, Warner attributes the fraud to the inability of his company to meet the demands of those stricken with disease of the Kidneys, Liver and Urinary Organs:
After a long series of scientific experiments, the only Herbs which have absolute power over these organs were discovered. They were carefully combined and proved by expert chemists, and they form the preparation which cured Mr. H. H. Warner and have restored thousands to health. Indeed, all medical science for the past ten years has scarcely relieved so much suffering as the SAFE REMEDIES have in the past three years. As a result of this the demand has been so great from all quarters that we cannot fill our orders. We do not therefore, so much desire to increase the present demand as we wish to warn the public against using pretentious “medicines” for diseases of the Kidneys, Liver and Urinary organs, for, as the rare herbs which compose the SAFE REMEDIES are are [sic] known only to us, and as we consume the entire crop of Europe and North and South America, it is plain that the SAFE REMEDIES cannot be successfully imitated.
BEWARE of such unscrupulous persons and their nostrums, lest they inflict lasting injury upon you.
Warner then instructs his customers on “How to Detect Fraud” and offers three indicia of genuiness:
(1) Safe Remdies “are put in Amber glass bottles,”
(2) the trademark “IRON SAFE” is printed on each wrapper and “blown into the back of each bottle,” and
(3) the presence of a light brown Private Proprietary Internal Revenue Stamp (of various demoninations depending on the type of Cure and size) bearing the outline of a safe “and within it the picture of a Negro gathering herbs.”
Warner closes his fraud warning by offering a $200 Reward “for the detection and conviction of any person selling or dealing in any preparation of any name or pretended nature dishonorably designed to secure a market over the genuine, or ‘as good as the genuine,” WARNER’S SAFE REMEDIES. As it turned out, Warner’s concern about fraud was not without merit.