Warner’s Safe Cure: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Baker's Vegetable Blood & Liver CureCraig's Kidney Cure - Long's Malaria CureSpark's Perfect Health

If you were starting up a patent medicine company in the late 19th Century, you might consider emulating the business model of H. H. Warner (at least before he began investing gobs of money in worthless mining ventures). While you would be hard pressed to be as successful as Warner on such a large scale, perhaps you could imitate one of Warner’s more visible marketing devices…his bottles. Now, you could not just copy his bottles. Indeed, Dr. Charles Craig, who sold his Kidney and Liver Cure to Warner in 1879, was on the receiving end of a lawsuit when he tried to reenter the patent medicine business. But, if it happened that your product’s bottle bore a resemblence to Warner’s Safe Cure, well, that might be the way to go.

Having said all that, there is no evidence (that I’m aware of) that any of Warner’s competitors set out to imitate the appearance of his bottles as a means to tapping into his customer base. And yet,  for some of the Warner’s Safe Cure look-a-likes, one cannot help but wonder if their similar appearance was just coincidental. 

With help from Jack Stecher, I picked out a few good examples of Warner’s Safe Cure look-a-likes. In my mind, perhaps the best candidate is Baker’s Vegetable Blood & Liver Cure of the Lookout Mountain Medicine Co. of Greeneville, Tennessee. Baker’s has both the Warner’s shape, the amber color and “Blood & Liver Cure,” which is not dramatically different from “Kidney & Liver Cure.” The other look-a-like candidates have to include Craig’s Kidney Cure and Long’s Standard Malaria Cure, both from the center of the Warner universe, Rochester. Both Craig’s and Long’s have the Warner shape and color as well as the geography. One final example is Spark’s Kidney & Liver Cure – Perfect Health of Camden, New Jersey. Again, Spark’s has the Warner shape and color that begs comparison. The benign explanation is that the Warner’s Safe Cure bottle was just a standard shape and size among glassmakers that appealed to other patent medicine proprietors. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting question to ponder.

Thanks to Jack Stecher and Glass Works Auctions for the photographs.

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5 thoughts on “Warner’s Safe Cure: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

  1. I have an near mint copy of the Warner’s Artist’s Album. it’s a large format booklet, approximately 6″ x 11″. It’s 33 pages plus the front and back covers, which are color on both sides. It has such wonderful graphics, as I’m sure you know. I have scanned the entire booklet and thought I would make a .pdf file of it if there is any interest. If so, please contact me and I well send it to you. You can do with what you please.

    I love your site. What a labor of love.
    Regards,
    Jon

    • That Jon. There are actually two Artist Albums. Not sure which one you have, but they are both neat. If you can send along jpegs of your scans, I would be happy to use them when the opportunity permits. Glad you enjoy the site and I welcome any ideas for new posts. All the best,

      Steve

  2. Steve:
    I you would post me at my E-mail address I can reply to with attachments. What size would you like? The images were saved full size at 300 dpi so the lot amounts to 55.6 megs. Each image is 1707×3239. Maybe it would be best if I sent you a CD with all of the files and a pdf Acrobat file so you cab browse the book. I’m glad you may be able to make use of at least some of the images. It really is a remarkable piece of period advertising.
    Regards,
    Jon

  3. I have a Bakers Vegetable Blood & Liver Cure, Lookout Mountain Medicine Co. Manurfactures and Proprietors, Greenville TN bottle in excellent condition. I would like to find the value of this bottle. I have several other items that I have been trying to research. If there is anyone that may be willing to help me, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance…….Jefferson Steffey, Jr

    • Jefferson,
      The Bakers is a nice bottle. I tell everyone who asks about bottle value, that it always depends on condition. If the Bakers is mint or near mint without any damage (ie cracks, bruises, etc), I have seen them go in the $400-600 range at shows. Not sure about your other items. If they are bottles, you can give me a description, but my specialty is Warner’s. I just happen to know about the Baker’s because it is very similar in shape and size to the Warner’s Safe Cure.
      Steve

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