H. H. Warner: His Company & His Bottles 2.0

If you collect Warner’s Safe Remedies to any serious degree, you are already familiar with the name Michael Seeliger. If you aren’t, you should be. I have collected Warner’s for nearly 40 years and I can credit or blame Michael, to some degree, for my addiction. You see, way back in 1976, I picked up my first old bottle and started what has become a lifelong hobby.

Michael Seeliger

   Michael Seeliger

When I first started collecting, I knew that I liked cures and remedies and made that the focus of my collecting efforts. Well, pretty soon, I realized that even that area of bottle collecting was enormous and I figured that I had better narrow my focus even more. About that time I joined my local antique bottle club to try to mingle with other collectors and to learn from their expertise. The Richmond Area Bottle Collectors Association had its own lending library and one evening, I chanced upon a copy of Michael’s original H. H. Warner: His Company & His Bottles (1974).

H. H. Warner: His Company & His Bottles (1974)

H. H. Warner: His Company & His Bottles (1974)

Michael’s original book was paperback with hand-drawn illustrations of the “then known” universe of Warner’s Safe Remedies. I was smitten. It was exactly what I needed and pretty soon thereafter, I purchased my first Safe Kidney & Liver Cure, then a Safe Nervine, then a Safe Diabetes Cure and so on. There was something special about Warner’s Safe Remedies. Perhaps it was the embossed safe or perhaps the variety of cures and remedies that extended beyond the United States to Canada, Europe and Australia.

Over the years, I have met and become friends with many other bottle collectors and Warner’s collectors, including Michael. I have expanded my collection to include some wonderful and unique Warner’s variants. Fortunately for all of us, Michael has decided to update his original paperback book with a digital version entitled H. H. Warner: His Company & His Bottles 2.0.  Gone are the hand-drawn illustrations; replaced by digital images of Safe Remedies bottles and advertising. Indeed, the entire book is on a credit card sized disk with an insert that goes into your USB drive.

H. H. Warner - His Company and His Bottles 2.0

Michael’s 2.0 version contains over twenty chapters on all aspects of collecting Warner’s including a history of the company, advertising, an updated catalog of bottles and even a copy of the 1974 original book. It is also loaded with pictures that help any collector appreciate the extent and variety of Safe Remedies that have come to light since 1974. In short, the 2.0 version is well worth the investment of $18.00 and $3.00 for shipping. In order to get a copy, email Michael at:  MWSeeliger@gmail.com.

Also, if you are planning to attend the Federation Expo in Sacramento in August, Michael  and Michael Craig will be doing a presentation on Warner’s Remedies that will provide lots of great information.

Warner’s Safe Cure: Test Your Kidneys!

Part of the appeal of Warner’s Safe Cure was the fact that it sold the notion that any person could effectively be his or her own physician. With the United States in the throes of becoming an industrial world power, the exercise of self-reliance was encouraged. This was particularly true given the primitive state of American medicine. Only a small percentage of physicians received formal medical training and most were either self-taught or apprenticed to an established physician.

Warner offered individual Americans the chance to be their own physician. Part of that pitch was what appeared to be a way to test your own kidneys for the maladies that were manifesting themselves in other ways.  For Warner, the kidneys were the key to good health. Over the years, he ran countless ads offering up the same psuedo-scientific test. Below is an advertisement from the December 6, 1903 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Test Your Kidneys - St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, MO) - 6 Dec 1903

According to the ad, the user was directed to “[l]et some morning urine stand in a glass for 24 hours: if a reddish-brown sediment forms, or if particles float about it, or if it is the least cloudy or smoky [sic], your kidneys are seriously affected and utterly unable to carry the waste out of the body…” Sounds pretty scientific, right? Truth is, any urine left to sit will likely precipitate out or remain cloudy. In short, the fix was in. Almost anyone doing the test, would be convinced that their kidneys were unhealthy. No worries, good health was but $1 away (or perhaps several dollars). So, what are you waiting for? Test Your Kidneys!

The Importance of Labels – Part 2

In most cases, labels add to the aesthetic value of bottles as well as to their monetary value. Labels give you a sense of seeing the product as it might have appeared to a potential buyer in the 19th Century. This is particularly true of Warner’s Safe Remedies, because they provide such great detail about the ailments the product was designed to alleviate.

Warner's Safe Cure Label

In the case of Warner’s Safe Kidney and Liver Cure, that included “Stone in Kidney & Bladder, Inflammation of Kidneys, Bladder & Liver, Catarrh of Bladder, Jaundice, Dropsy, Malaria, Female Weakness and Pain in Back”.  The Warner label is also colorful because it includes the trademark iron safe along with the names of all of the Warner’s Safe Remedies available for purchase.

The value of a label also turns on its condition. The above label is in virtually mint condition, which really adds to the character of the bottle.  However, like bottles, labels are not always mint. Often, portions of the label are missing or may have content stains that make the label unreadable.  If a label is less than 50%, I don’t think it adds much, if anything, to the value of the bottle. Indeed, I have heard some dealers say they would rather remove a bad label than keep it on the bottle. The same is probably true for labels in poor condition.

Warner's Animal Labeled

Although I am a bit biased, I would say that Warner’s Safe Remedies labels are a bit more interesting than your average patent medicine label. Perhaps it’s the wonderful graphic of the iron safe or the detail detailed claims of the maladies it was designed to cure. Whatever it is, well-preserved Warner labels add a unique flavor to the bottle.


Labelled Warner's Safe Cure Pint from Frankfurt in Emerald Green

Needless to say, labels on rare Warner’s are even more valuable. Above are examples of labels on a green Animal Cure, on a Pressburg Safe Cure and Safe Diabetes Cure and a rare apple green Frankfurt Safe Cure. Labels on these rare bottles are extremely hard to come by, especially in good condition. In short, the value of labels on Warner’s Safe Remedies defy any hard and fast rules. It is safe to say, however, that the better the condition and the more complete the label, the greater the value it adds to the bottle.

Dan Cowman Collection  Dan Cowman Collection

Indeed, there are some Warner’s collections, like Dan Cowman’s, Terry McMurray’s or Mike and Kathie Craig’s, that are built on labelled Warner’s and other labelled cures. While no one can quibble with some of the wonderful colors in which Safe Cures appear, shelves full of labelled Safe Cures make an amazing impression. One can only imagine walking into a drug store in the 1880’s and seeing boxes and labelled bottles of Safe Cure lining the shelves.

While the bulk of my Warner’s collection consists of unlabeled variants, I really treasure those nice labelled examples that I have. Labels simply add to the excitement and appeal of the bottle and…..in most cases…..the value.


Warner’s Safe Cure Blog Images on Pinterest

Safe Cure Blog on Pinterest


In addition to the social media that most of us are familiar with, there is another genre that I was marginally familiar with, but had not paid it much attention. It is the whole group of social media sites devoted to “pinning” images into, what amounts to, a virtual scrapbook. Chief among these so-called pinning sites is Pinterest.

Periodically, I search for images of Warner’s Safe Cure bottles and ephemera to use on this blog. As a rule,  I try to ask permission of the person who owns the image, before using it. I find that most folks, including auction sites, are willing to allow me to use the images provided I give them credit.  However, I started to see a trend of many of my Warner’s pictures, or those I had obtained permission to use, showing up on sites without any accreditation or permission. 

One of the really nice things about collecting Warner’s Safe Cures is that there is an almost unlimited supply of images, both of the bottles and of the advertising that help build the Safe Cure empire. My objective has always been for my blog to provide not only Warner’s Safe history, but also access to images. With that in mind, I have created my own Pinterest board devoted to Warner’s Safe Cure images. I am happy to share those images with interested collectors and would only ask for credit if they are reposted or reblogged.  I also welcome any contributions of Safe Cure images to add to the board. It will take a while to add all of my Safe Cure images to the board, but I hope you will check back regularly.

The address for my Pinterest board is: http://www.pinterest.com/jackson4060/warners-safe-cure-blog-in-photographs/.

Warner’s Safe Cure – Puric Acid?

Warner's Safe Cure - The Hamilton Journal News - 15 Mar 1895

This advertisement ran in the March 15, 1895 edition of The Hamilton Journal. In my research of newspaper advertising run by the Warner’s Safe Remedies Company and its successors, I have found that Warner often ran the same ads in different newspapers, probably to save on the costs associated with creating new ads; however, this ad in 1895 would have been after Warner left the company in 1893. It strikes the same tone and themes concerning kidney disease.

Perhaps the more interesting thing is the title “Puric Acid in the Blood.” I am not sure if this was a typo by the newspaper or just ignorance. To my limited medical knowledge, there is no such thing as puric acid. There is, of course, uric acid, which is a byproduct of the metabolic breakdown of “purines” and at high enough levels can lead to the development of gout, which is also mentioned in the ad. Perhaps that is where the confusion arose. Never fear….Safe Cure to the rescue!

Warner’s Safe Cure: Pressburg Diabetes Cure

Pressburg Diabetes Cure 5 Pressburg Diabetes Cure 1  Pressburg Diabetes Cure 3

Warner’s Safe Cures come and go on eBay. On any given day, there are dozens of them available for bid. Most of them are the ubiquitous Kidney & Liver Cure. But, every once in a while, a gem surfaces that catches everyone’s attention. Recently, one such gem emerged in the form of a Pressburg Diabetes Cure.

The Pressburg Diabetes Cure is, perhaps, the rarest Warner’s cure from the shortest existing foreign office in the Safe Cure empire. It is included in my “A List” of rare Warner’s Safe Cures and, prior to this sale, only one other was known to exist. The Pressburg Office existed for only two years from 1888 to 1890. When I wrote about the Pressburg Office back in July, 2008, I knew of only one example of the Pressburg Diabetes Cure. A labelled example, which was pictured. It now appears there are two.

The latest example was unlabelled and was listed by a seller from Poland. By the time the auction was over, the sale price had risen to an astounding $8735 driven by 49 bidders. I have to say that the final price suprised me. I knew the bottle would garner a nice price, but I had not envisioned a sales price approaching $9K. While I would love to say that it will be gracing my Warner’s collection, alas it is not so. As I have said many times, rare Warner’s Safe Cures do show up on eBay and other auction sites, but, unless you are watching, they too may come and go. One thing is for certain, they generate lots of excitement among collectors.

The photographs accompanying this post are courtesy of the seller.