Unlike the name Webster, the name Warner is not synonymous with dictionaries and with good reason. Webster had a considerable head start on Warner, publishing his first dictionary in 1806 and continuing in various forms until the present day. Nevertheless, Warner saw yet another opportunity to get his name in the hands of the common man. Many people would not have had the money to buy a dictionary, but would be inclined to accept one for twenty-five cents. Having said that, a quarter in 1889 would be worth about $5.81 today after adjusting for inflation, so it would not have been free. Likely, Warner’s retailers may have distributed it to their customers.
For those of you who have seen one of these, you know that it has nothing on Webster’s for size, even though it boasts “over FIVE THOUSAND WORDS” and, even more importantly “ALL THE MORE DIFFICULT WORDS IN GENERAL USE.” I’m not exactly sure how they decided on which words were the more difficult, but I’m sure they consulted all of the experts of the day. From a guy pitching cures for any number of chronic illnesses, the boast seems easy to believe.
These Safe Dictionaries turn up with some frequency, but are considered a good go-with by Warner’s collectors, because they are an excellent example to Warner’s marketing and include references to Warner’s Safe products.