Warner’s Foreign Offices: Melbourne Revisited

Back in June, I wrote about Warner’s foreign offices in Melbourne and Dundein, New Zealand.  With help from Wayne Harris, I shed a bit of light on the opening of those two offices as Warner’s business was beginning its upward rise. Apparently, the early bottles from Melbourne and Dundein was imported from the United States or possibly London. It was not until the H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd. bottles appeared in the 20th Century that one can say with conviction that the Melbourne bottles were home grown.

The more important question is in what order did the Melbourne bottles appear in the market and what is there relative importance among Warner’s collectors. After talking with those who I consider to be the experts in this, I am prepared to offer up what I think is the most probable sequence of those bottles with the caveat that I’m not sure that anyone can provide an absolute answer. It is also reasonable to expect that there was overlap between the Melbourne Safe Cure bottles.

The Safe Cures

There is no doubt that the Safe Cures were the first to arrive on the scene in Melbourne. They consisted of the Safe Cure, Nervine, Diabetes Cure and Rheumatic Cure and each of them had the specific Cure embossed on the bottle. In other words, the Diabetes Cure had “Diabetes Cure” embossed on the bottle. These are great bottles and were made in the United States and shipped down under. The most often appear in shades of amber with an occasional puce. They appear in the pint and half pint sizes (Safe Cure and Nervine are the only half pints). Clearly the Nervine, Diabetes Cure and Rheumatic Cure are difficult to get and fetch a nice price.

The Safe Remedies

The next in line were likely the “Safe Remedies,” which were the first Melbourne bottles without the specific Cure embossed on the bottle. I have not seen a labelled version, but I suspect that Warner still offered his Safe Cure, Nervine, Diabetes Cure and Rheumatic Cure but distinguished each with a specific label adhered to the “Safe Remedies” bottle. Undoubtedly, this would have been done as a cost control measure. They appear only in the pint size and in shades of amber. These are very desirable bottles and can fetch close to $1000 in good condition.

The Safe Medicines

The Safe Medicines likely followed the Safe Remedies and probably appeared on the scene about the same time that the 1906 Food & Drug Act was passed in the United States. At this stage I am not sure if the Warner’s Safe Company was still marketing the full range of remedies, but as with the Remedies, they would have been distinguished by product-specific labels. The Safe Medicines appear in amber and, unlike their predecessors, they appear in both a pint and half pint size. They are somewhat less scarce that the Safe Remedies, with the half pint being particularly hard to get.

H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd./Warner’s Safe Cure (Concentrated)

These bottles bear the monogram “AGM” on the base and were actually manufactured in Australia. The AGM mark stands for Australian Glass Manufacturers Co. Dating them is a more difficult task. They probably came out in the 1910’s and the HHWCL bottles appear in both a pint and half pint size in amber and a much rarer olive. The Concentrated bottle appears in amber. Generally speaking these bottles are not considered hard to find, but labelled versions fetch a higher price.

My effort to try to fix the progression of Warner’s Safe bottles from Melbourne is my opinion and I would welcome any information that anyone has that would either support my theory or rebut it. G’day.


6 thoughts on “Warner’s Foreign Offices: Melbourne Revisited

  1. G’day
    I have been reading you information about the Warner’s bottles. The bottles also come in green and light amber colours. A four cities green coloured WS “SAFE CURE” bottle sold for $600(AUST) last month on eBay.
    You said that there are no “SAFE” CURE half pint bottles which is incorrect as I have one in my limited collection of Warner’s bottles.
    I also found that I have one of the incorrectly spelt Warner’s Safe (SAEE) cure concentrated bottles.
    I find this site is realy great.

  2. Peter,

    Thanks for catching my mistake. You are correct. To the best of my knowledge, the Melbourne Safe Cure and the Nervine were the only half pints. The Rheumatic and Diabetes were in pints only. Also, the 4-Cities are in light amber and rarely in green. Keep checking behind me and I hope that you will pass this site along to Warner’s collectors down under.


  3. Dear Peter,
    Do you have any other info on the Warners Safe Cure (spelled SAEE) concentrated? We have one and are wondering about more info on it, like year and what it may be worth.
    Thanks Alot!
    Arizona, USA

  4. Hi,have been reading your site with interest, I have just ‘aquired’ two Warners Four cities ‘Safe cures’ from a mid 1880’s site,both have double collar lips, and on closer inspection I find that the embossing is different,both in the lettering and safe.
    I also noticed that the branch with leaves on the side of the safe motif are also differently shaped, one has a curve to the left and one is the shape of a streched out ‘s’, question is, are these bottles both made in America at the same factory and at the same time? also one has a ‘1’ on the base in the depression with a mould seam running through, the other has no number or seam ? Cheers

    • Great question, Steve. My reseach suggests that the 4-Cities (Dundein) bottles were made in the United States or possibly London and shipped to Melbourne for distribution. This is likely the case because in the mid-1880’s, the glassmaking industry in Australia and New Zealand was simply too primitive to support such a bottle. I am also of the believe that, although the Melbourne and Dundein bottles imply that the former were issued out of Australia and the latter from Dundein, both bottles were, in fact, shipped out of Melbourne. Supposedly, the Dundein Office was little more than a laboratory rather than a factory. Morever, for Warner, it was more about the ability to claim a fully functional operation in Dundein than to actually have one. It is only when the Melbourne bottles begin using the embossing “H. H. Warner & Co., Ltd” that it is likely they were being manufactured in Melbourne.

      As far as the actually bottles, the 4-Cities bottles come in both a double collar and blob top variety, with the double collar being the earlier. I cannot tell you the significance of the variation in the embossing. The only glassmaker that we know Warner used was the Chambers Works from Pittsburgh. However, these bottles were issued early in the Warner’s Safe Cure history. They are signified by the acronym “A&DHC” embossed on the base. My April 17, 2008 post talks about those bottles. After Warner stopped using the Chambers Works, well before the Melbourne or Dundein Offices were opened, it is likely he simply contracted his bottle production out to the low bidder, which may account for the subtle variations in bottles issued from the Rochester Office as well as the use of slug plates. Hope this helps and thanks for your questions.

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