Warner’s Collector Profile: Interview of Jack Stecher

Animal Cure with Label Jack Stecher at the Warner\'s Exhibit in 2001

Old Sachem BittersJack Stecher\'s Labelled Warner\'s

I first met Jack on March 6, 1999 at the Baltimore Antique Bottle Club Show. Although I had collected Warner’s Safe Cures since the mid-1970’s, I had not had occasion to get to know anyone that was a devoted Warner’s collector.  1999 was my first visit to the Baltimore Show (which, by the way, is a great show).  I was immediately drawn to Jack’s sales table, which had some great Warner’s for sale. I spent a good portion of that show talking to Jack about collecting Warner’s.

For those of you who don’t know Jack, he is a walking encyclopedia of Warner’s Safe Cure knowledge.  He started collecting them before Mike Seeliger published his book in 1974. Because he lived and worked in Rochester, he was at the center of the Warner universe and assembled a collection of bottles and advertising that was virtually unmatched. 

Because I want this blog to provide readers with more than just Warner history and pictures of bottles, I decided to put together a questionnaire to allow me to profile some well-known Warner’s collectors. Jack graciously agreed to be my guinea pig. Below are my questions and Jack’s answers:

1.    When did you first start collecting Warner’s Safe bottles?

       It’s almost too long ago to remember!  Would you believe the mid 60s?  My first purchase was a repro K & L Cure Warner’s from a flea market.  I didn’t know the difference  between an original or reproduction bottle back then. 

2.    Why?

   Shortly after our local bottle club formed, I had conversation  with Jacob DeMay’s granddaughter, Joy Kyper.  DeMay operated the Warner Safe Remedies Co. in Rochester and frequently traveled to London to assist in their operations.  The Kyper family stories fascinated me and I began the search for more information about the famous man, HH Warner and his company

  3.    What was the first Warner’s Safe bottle that you added to your collection?

   The Warner’s Safe Bitters.  I purchased the bottle at a Laconia, New Hampshire bottle show, probably about 1967   or so.  I spent $100. for it and thought my wife was going to kill me when I got home.  She thought it was great!  Go figure.

 

  4.    What is the last Warner’s Safe bottle that you added to your collection?

   Probably a Tippecanoe, with full contents and label.

 

5.    Out of the Warner’s Safe bottles that you own or have owned, which was your favorite and why?

   That’s easy.  My favorite was always the labeled Animal Cure, with contents that featured both a horse and cow on the label.  It came to me after Mike Seeliger had offered it to  me originally, when he broke up his collection.  I didn’t have the money to buy it at the time, so Mike sold it to a gent in Michigan.  Later, I had seen an ad that a Warner collection  was up for sale.  I called and found out that he had the labeled Animal cure, along with a green London mammoth cure (they’re not called animal cures in England, just large  safe cures!), and I bought them both.

  

6.    Is there a Warner’s Safe bottle that you always wanted, but were never able to add to your collection?  If yes, which one?

   I could say a labeled London mammoth cure, but then I always wanted the aqua London Safe Cure with the medicine type top too.  I never owned either.

  

7.    Apart from Warner’s Safe bottles, is there another piece of Warner’s advertising or paper that is your favorite? If yes, what is it?

     I own and display in my family room nine Warner advertising posters from the 1880s era.  My favorite has always been a dated 1886 color litho of an old man, with a white beard, and cane, strolling along, arm in arm with a  buxom young woman, fan in hand.  The caption reads: ” Take Warner’s Safe Cure”.  The message conveys a theme, wouldn’t you say?

 

8.    What’s your best story (or stories if you have more than one) about getting a Warner’s Safe bottle?  The more details, the better.

       I refer to #5., but can add another. Back in the 1980s, while set up at a local flea market, a gentleman came by and told  me of having an original, unopened wooden case of Warner’s Log Cabin Extracts.  However, he collected the old 78 records and only wanted to trade.  I told him I didn’t have any 78s  but to call me if he ever changed his mind and wanted to  sell me the Warner’s.  Several years later his wife called me and asked if I were still interested, as she wanted to clear   out all his old “junk” after his passing that year. Needless to  say, I bought them but do not have any today, as I foolishly  sold them off one at a time to buy other bottles. Hey, having a case of a dozen log cabin extracts must make them to be too plentiful, right?  Don’t we all wish we could go back in time and change some our decisions?

 

9.    If H. H. Warner were still alive and you could interview him, what questions would be at the top of your list?

   Where did you put all the bottles that you didn’t use when you went out of business? 

    Why didn’t you make an aqua Tippecanoe bottle?  And, if you did, where is it?

   You had such a great thing going, why did you ever venture into promoting  stocks and bonds, or buying real estate in Mexico, or silver mining?   Did you get too greedy?

  What happened to you after you left Rochester, and moved to  NY City before moving on to Minneapolis, Mn. and starting the WS Renowned Remedies Co. with your Mexican partner, Christina Martinez?

 

10.  Other than Warner’s Safe bottles, what is your favorite bottle or bottles? Why?

   I have always had a strong interest in “bitters”.  My favorite bitters is the  blue-green barrel embossed Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic.  I have     nine Old Sachems of  different color, but not an aqua one.  Another favorite is the  rare Dr. Hill’s Restorative and Strengthening Bitters-Farmer, NY.  Farmer, NY does NOT exist any longer.  The name was changed to Interlaken, NY.  And that’s another story!

  

11.  What’s the best way to encourage young bottle collectors to develop an interest in Warner’s Safe bottles?

   Get into the research on Warner history…it’s fascinating.     Buy the bottles you can afford, and don’t worry about the rare ones.  Go to bottle shows and ask questions, and then put out your want list.  Buy only the best condition, or color,  if available.  Pass on the damaged bottles, no matter how tempting, unless you know they’re extremely rare.

 

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