Warner’s Safe Cure: Tippecanoe Bitters?

Tippecanoe SignTippecanoe BittersTippecanoe The BestTippecanoe XXX BittersIn 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.

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12 thoughts on “Warner’s Safe Cure: Tippecanoe Bitters?

  1. The tippicanoe bottle has always been amazing to me. The first time I touched one I found only the bottom section (just a piece of the canoe and the tree bark)with no other pieces around while digging in an old barnyard back in the early 80’s. A few years later I spotted one in an antique shop tucked away. I couldn’t get the bottle out of my mind. The next weekend I bought it after dickering a little on the price. An excellent clean amber one for $65. I discovered later that is was the misspelled version Rocheter. Years later I’d come across one on e-bay with a lable. It’s neat just thinking where the bottle slept for so many years that kept the lable intact. Your research makes the bottle even more interesting, 99% rum! wow that must have made a few people hooked on it that’s for sure. Thanks for your blog! I really look forward to checking in every couple of days to check out what’s new to discover on HH Warner, his company and his bottles. Keep it comming!

  2. Thanks Kevin. When I see a Tippecanoe at a show, the first thing I look at is the bottom. I have the “Rocheter” error but not the “Rochestr.”

  3. Hi, Could someone help me? I am looking to find out info on the type of bottle I have. It is a tippecanoe it has the stamp on the bottom that says Rocheter 6 NY. I have been doing research and i am not finding the answer i am looking for. If you know something about this bottle could you let me know? Thanks so much.

    • Danielle,
      You clearly have a Warner’s Tippecanoe and if Rochester is misspelled “Rocheter” then one which is slightly more valuable than the more common version without the misspelling. This bottle is discussed in the above post and replaced Warner’s orginal line of bitters first introduced in 1879-1880. Your bottle with misspelling is probably worth in the range of $150 depending on condition. Hope this helps.

      Steve

  4. Hello, I have found an early sign advertising Tippecanoe Medicine. Is there someone that I can email a picture to for more information on the piece? Thanks in advance for your speedy reply.

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