Warner’s Safe Advertising: Trade Cards

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about the Warner’s Safe empire is that he had such presence in the marketplace. In future posts, I want to focus on his array of inducements to buy his products; however, for now, I will start with the simple. Like most merchants of the day, Warner distributed an untold number of trade cards depicting his products usually along with a caricatured Victorian scene on the front and some bit of wisdom on the reverse. Trade cards were the direct mail of their day and whole websites are devoted to collecting them.

Most of Warner’s trade cards were designed to sell his Safe Cure and his Safe Yeast and most are generally available to interested collectors on eBay or at shows and range in price from $5 – $20. The exception would clearly be the Battle of Tippecanoe cards that fetch well in excess of that price, if you can find them. On occasion, you will see someone attempting to sell the front or back cover of a Warner’s Safe almanac as a trade card. Whether intentionally or merely as the result of ignorance, such offerings are dishonest. Not only are these clippings not trade cards, they are scraps of a damaged almanac or pamphlet. So, caveat emptor.

Warner’s Safe trade cards are a great addition to any Warner’s collection, because they illustrate a part of what made Warner successful in his business. That is, the ability to reach into the homes of Victorian America and convince them that his products were essential to a life well-lived.


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