H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd.

On the heels of my last post on the Mebourne and Dundein foreign offices, it seems appropriate to take a bit of time to focus on the entity known as H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd.  In a week that has seen the passing of one of our great sportscasters, Jim McKay, it seems appropriate to think in terms of one of the catch phrases that McKay made immortal on ABC’s Wide World of Sports: “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Without trying to stretch the cultural reference too far, Warner’s Safe Cure business experienced both of those extremes and H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd. lay somewhere in the middle.

In my earlier post on Going Public and the Panic of 1893, I talked a bit about how H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd. came into being as the result of Warner’s sale of his Safe Cure business in 1889. It is amusing that you frequently see the purchasers referred to as an “English Syndicate,” which sounds like something out of a sleazy novel. That 1889 sale was, perhaps, the high-water mark of the Safe Cure empire. It may have been the last time that Warner had total control over the business. Although he ultimately reacquired the business from the syndicate (with the exception of the Melbourne office) and subsequently offered stock to the public, it can be persuasively argued that he was controlled by events and by bad business decisions. Indeed, by 1889, the thrill of victory was waning and the agony was close on its heels.

As mentioned before, the H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd. embossing appears on bottles from Melbourne and, according to Wayne Harris, marks the point at which Safe Cure bottles began to be manufactured in Australia and bear the embossing “AGM” on their base for Australian Glass Mfgs. Later variants of the H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd. bottles appear without the AGM. These bottles were far more efficient, because they allowed the company to fill them with whichever variety of remedy and simply slap a different label on the bottle.

Both of the bottles pictured above are embossed H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd; however, one has a Safe Cure label and the other a Nervine label.

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4 thoughts on “H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd.

  1. I was doing research on H.H. Warner Gen’l agt because I had just puchased an antigue safe dating back around 1865. The combination lock was made by Sargent & Greenleaf Rochester N.Y. with patent dates from 1857-1871 and the name H.H. Wanrner Gen’l agt on it. I would like to find out more information on what this safe was used for. Thanks.

    • Jerry,

      Although my expertise on H. H. Warner, such as it is, is limited primarily to his patent medicine empire, I have done a bit of research into Warner’s life prior to launching his medicine business. I have covered this to some degree in the first installment of the Rise and Fall of the Warner Empire which I posted on this blog back in March, 2008. Suffice it to say, that Warner was a general agent for the Mosler Safe Company of Cincinnati and made his first fortune selling fireproof safes in the wake of the Civil War. These safes, including the one you have, were apparently attractive to those in the newly developing mining and petroleum industries. Using the income from this venture, Warner financed his purchase of the Safe Cure formula from Charles Craig of Rochester. Warner thereafter took the safe as his trademark as it conveyed a sense of security and safety to his customers.

      You may want to get a copy of the very good article by Edward Atwater that discusses Warner’s history in great detail. The citation in on my reference page. Also, I would love to get some pictures of your safe. Best wishes.

      Steve

    • Noreen,
      You would need to give me some more detail on the bottle. Was it an H.H. Warner & Co. Ltd? What size? A picture would also be helpful. Thanks.
      Steve

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