In 1883, Warner introduced a new product to replace his bitters line (Safe Tonic, Safe Bitters and Safe Tonic Bitters) that had come into being when he launched his patent medicine business. Although the distinct figural log bottle reveals no product difference, labelled versions suggest that Tippecanoe came in two grades: “XXX Bitters” and “The Best.” But why? Why take an established bitters line off the market and replace it with an unknown? Why two grades?
These are questions that may not have clear answers. Mark McDonald has suggested that Warner introduced the XXX Bitters first and later dropped the word “Bitters” from the label. Indeed, a close inspection of the XXX Bitters label reveals the following statement “Use No Nostrums or Preparations Called” followed by the word “Bitters,” which suggests a rebuke of bitters. Mark also suggests that Tippecanoe was introduced to create a clearly trademarked product, perhaps to compete with the Hop Bitters product marketed by fellow Rochesterian, Asa T. Soule.
Whatever the motivation, the product was principally (about 99%) rum for at least part of its existence. That existence likely spanned into the 20th Century. Although it was originally believed that Tippecanoe vanished from the market about 1895, at least one labelled version makes specific reference to the 1906 legislation enacted to limit the expansive claims of patent medicine hucksters. That label states in part:
Contains ethyl alcohol, 23 per cent. Guaranteed under the Food and Drug Act June 30, 1906. Serial No. 5017.
In the end, collectors love the Tippecanoe bottle, because of its uniqueness and not because of what it contained. The majority of Tippecanoe bottles are found in the familiar amber with a prized few in green (which multiply their value considerably). Reports of a clear variety have never been confirmed. Some Tippecanoes also can be found with mold errors which misspell the word Rochester as either “Rochestr” or “Rocheter” and are also more scarce.
The Tippecane product was heavily advertised by Warner and appeared in his almanacs and other publications, including the Artists Album pictured above. Advertising signs also have been found in three varieties, including the one pictured above for “Bilious Headache/Blood Disorders.” They provide an interesting diversion from the Safe Remedies for which Warner was best known.