If you have been following this blog for even a short amount of time, you have undoubtedly come to the conclusion that collecting Warner’s Safe Cures extends beyond just the bottles. Warners collectors are blessed with an enormous array of advertising paper and other ephemera produced by one of the great proprietary medicine companies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. H. H. Warner missed few, if any, opportunities to plaster the reading public with his brand, whether by almanacs, newspaper ads, posters, cookbooks or puzzles and games. This list is extensive.
Having said that, the question becomes which examples of his advertising best informs us of the enterprise. By my way of thinking, his almanacs and other publications give us one of the most complete pictures of his pitch to an American public desperate to cope with disease in an age where real, medically competent physicians were indeed rare. Among his publications, one of the best has to be his Artist’s Albums. I say “albums,” because there were actually two. While one of the two is distinctly more rare than the other, both are terrific examples of his marketing. The version with Santa Claus going down the chimney (above) is the more common of the two, while the version with the boy sitting on the log (below) is rare.
Unlike other Warner’s Safe publications that were printed by Mensing & Stecher, the Artists’ Albums were printed by Cosack & Company of Buffalo, New York. The back cover of both albums featured a box of Log Cabin Sarsaparilla.
Apart from the terrific graphics, the Artists’ Albums feature the most comprehensive catalog of the Warner’s Safe Cure inventory as it existed in 1888. The featured products included Safe Cure, Rheumatic Cure, Diabetes Cure, Nervine, Tippecanoe – The Best, Asthma Cure, Safe Pills, Benton Hair Grower, Animal Cure, Log Cabin Sarsaparilla, Log Cabin Hops & Buchu Remedy, Log Cabin Cough & Consumption Remedy, Log Cabin Hair Tonic, Log Cabin Extract, Log Cabin Plaster, Log Cabin Rose Cream, Log Cabin Liver Pills and Safe Yeast. Each of the products was discussed and a facsimile of the package was included. The next part of this post will feature some of those articles.
The Artists’ Albums were issued at about the time that Warner’s medicine empire reached its peak. Over the period of the next five years, Warner went from proprietary medicine mogul to financial collapse and public humiliation. These publications provide us with a glimpse of the types of products pitched to our great grandparents.
Special thanks to Jon Moran for reminding me of the uniqueness of the Artist’s Album and providing me with scans of its contents.