Warner’s Safe Cure: Victorian Newspaper Ads


In many of my posts,  I’ve talked about the various forms of advertising used by H. H. Warner to sell his miraculous cures. Warner clearly knew the power of advertising and rarely missed an opportunity to get his brand before the public. From trade cards to almanacs to a wide variety of premium items like his dominoes or his prize map, Warner bombarded the Victorian public with his brand and was rewarded by an ever-swelling demand.  I’m sure that if radio and television had existed at that time, he would have run commercials touting the value of his Safe Cures.

I’m certain that in the back of my mind, I expected that he must have engaged in extensive newspaper advertising and,  from time to time, I had seen a copy of the occasional Warner’s Safe Cure ad. However,  access to that genre of advertising seemed virtually impossible absent a willingness to sit in front of a microfilm reader and scroll randomly through newspapers of the day in hopes of finding the occasional Safe Cure ad.

Recently, and almost by accident, I stumbled across the access that had, for so long, eluded me. I was engaging in my other passion, genealogical research, when I learned about online access to vintage newspapers. More important though than just access was the ability to search them by names and subjects. Holy cow, I thought, if this will work for family surnames, I wonder if it will work for advertising?  To my delight, it did. My searches for Warner’s Safe Cure yielded enumerable results. While my searches turned up every mention of Safe Cure, many of which were included in countless testimonials (a topic for another day), a significant number of hits were ads taken out by Warner hawking his Safe Cure and Tippecanoe.

In this and future posts, I hope to unveil some of these ads as yet another facet of the Warner Safe Cure empire. Before doing so, I would be remiss if I did not credit the folks at Footnote.  Footnote is a web based search engine that allows you to access original documents through partnerships with the National Archives and the Library of Congress among others.  There is a membership fee, but it is modest considering the time and effort that is saved by searching document collections from the comfort of your home rather than planted in front of a microfilm viewer in the library. Let me also give the disclaimer that most, if not all, of the newspaper images I will be posting are long out of copyright and are subject to fair use. Now, having said all that, let me throw a few gems your way. First, this ad appeared in the Chicago Tribune on December 7, 1902:

This is a great ad and vintage Safe Cure. Like most all of Warner’s advertising for Safe Cure, it attributes all bodily problems to the malfunction of the kidneys. It also incorporates a tried and true device of Warner and other advertisers of the period, the testimonial.  If Safe Cure can help 92-year old Rebecca Smith, it will do wonders for you. It also offers the reader a free trial bottle. How can you lose?  Let me throw another your way as a teaser. In future post, I will talk more about these wonderful tidbits of Warner history. This ad appeared in the Fort Wayne Sentinel on February 16, 1883:

This ad resembles text that appears in some of Warner’s Safe Cure almanacs and strikes a familiar Warner theme – “Beware of Fraud.” The wonderful thing about these ads is that they appear, even now, among the news items that people of that era were reading. Indeed, many of the ads I came across were designed to look like news stories to enhance their credibility. I hope you will enjoy these ads as much as I have.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s