Warner's Safe Compounds Dug by Frank Romanowski
If you follow this blog with any regularity, you have heard me say more than once that my favorite Safe Cures come from the London Office. That is not a slight against the cures from Frankfurt, Pressburg or Melbourne, but rather an acknowledgement that London offers, perhaps, the widest variety of types and colors, second only to Rochester. For example, the London Office offers us the remarkable sample in amber and green or the Safe Compound in 6″ or 5 1/2″ strap sided varieties. Also, the colors run from amber to ice blue aqua.
Although I have never had the opportunity to dig in Great Britain, I have had the pleasure of making the acquaintance (virtually) of Frank Romanowski. Frank lives in the north of England and is an avid bottle digger. More to the point, he has had occasion to dig some nice Warner’s Safe Cures over the years. One such dig yielded some nice Safe Compounds pictured above. I asked him to share the story of that dig and he graciously agreed to do so. Here is his unedited account of that dig:
The ‘Compound’ Dig
It was February 28th 2010. A day in my digging career I will never forget! This is how the story began. My sister Helena is what we call here in the UK a ‘rambler’. That doesn’t mean she talks endlessly! It actually means that she is a member of The Ramblers Association, a national group which organises group walks through the countryside and takes pride in protecting rights of way. The previous weekend, my sister had been on one such ‘ramble’ and had spotted broken glass and stoneware at the bottom of a stream bank. I had asked her to look out for such tell-tale signs of possible old dumping grounds whenever she was out walking and had several leads which turned out to be false starts in the past. So I didn’t hold out much hope when she offered to take me to the spot.
It was quite a long drive and then a hike on foot, so it was mid-morning when we finally arrived at the site. It was just as she had said, broken stoneware jam pots and fragments of codd bottles could be seen in the stream and it was clear that they had come from the eroded edges of an ashy bank above it. I cut into the banking with my shovel and after removing about a foot of hard clay ash and bottle fragments began to appear. It looked promising! A few minutes later my heart sank a little as clear glass machine-made sauce bottles and jam jars began to surface. ”Another horrible late 20s site” I thought to myself. My sister took her dogs off for a long walk and left me to get on with the dig. Three hours and a ton of fruitlessly shifted ash later my mobile phone rang. It was my partner Catherine calling to enquire how I was getting on. ”I’ve got nothing” I told her ”I doubt I’ll be hurrying back to dig this place again”. A few minutes after ending our conversation I decided to fork in the sides of the trench. A small amber bottle fell face down on to the ash. ”Another Jeye’s Fluid” I thought to myself, picked the bottle up and turned it around. A Warner’s Compound!! I couldn’t believe it! A moment later the base of another appeared, alas it was only the base. An amber hair restorer had my heart racing again for a moment as i pulled it from the ash thinking it might be yet another Compound! I dug with renewed vigour for a few minutes untill suddenly the top of another small amber bottle appeared, sticking out of the wall of the trench. I gently eased it out….Warner’s Compound number two!! My sister returned shortly afterwards to find me one excited and happy digger! Upon returning home, Catherine couldn’t believe my good fortune. ”I want to dig one” she said, ”Shall we go back there tomorrow?” I didn’t need a second invitation to return.
March 1st, we set off good and early and upon arrival set about starting to dig each side of the trench I had dug the day before. Hopeful of yet more success, I quickly hit the bottom of the site in my trench…for little reward. Meanwhile, Catherine had been struggling a little with the hard clay that capped the site. ”Here, let me have a go” I said, quickly cutting off the clay in her trench to get down into the ash. As I lifted my shovel, a small amber lip appeared. ”Can I dig it out?” she said and then carefully lifted the bottle from the ash. Another sparkling Warner’s Compound! Elated we dug on, but unfortunately no more Compounds surfaced that day. I have since returned to the site on several occasions and have dug a further five broken Compounds. There is very little left of the site to dig now, but I live in hope!
Thanks for sharing Frank! I hope to have the opportunity to dig with Frank some day. Cheers.