antiquebottles THEMEDICINE CHEST --- BY DR. RICHARD CANNON old bottles


It was late afternoon when our flight arrived in Denver.We decided to drive on up a way into the Colorado ski countrybefore dark. By Idaho Springs, the sunlight had vanished andsnowflakes were falling. We pulled into the Argo Motor Inn. I was registering in the lobby when Sonja, my wife whoalways has a keen eye for antiques, said, “Look at thisbeautiful old safe!” I turned and couldn't believe my eyesas they read: H.H. Warner, Gen'l, Ag't / Rochester, N.Y. Whatcollector doesn't love Warner's delightful old medicine bottleswith the embossed safe?

Warners Safe, IdahoSprings, Colorado

We found that Laurie and Steve Marshall own themotor inn and safe. Laurie said that the safe had been in Denversince 1892 and was though to be new at the time; the Marshallshave owned it since 1979. It stands 54 inches tall, is black withfancy gold lettering which also includes Mosler / Bahmann &Co. / Cincinnati, on the upper front. There is an originalpainting in the upper corner of the front plus other decorativeartwork. More paintings and decorative artwork grace the interiorof the safe.

I remembered that Hubert Harrington Warner,1842-1913 had owned an impressive safe business in Rochester,N.Y., before entering the proprietary medicine business in 1879,but that's about all I knew. Jack Stecher of Rochester, N.Y.,Jerry Eger of Lebanon, Ohio and the Public Library of Cincinnatiand Hamilton County have contributed additional information aboutthe history of the safe.

Warner was first in the hardware and stovebusiness in Ann Arbor. Michigan. Bankruptcy ensued and he movedto Rochester in 1870, where he soon became an agent (dealer) forthe Mosler Safe Company in Cincinnati. With this enterprise heexperienced great success, particularly in selling safes to oildrillers in Titusville, Pa. where oil had been discovered in1859. Warner weathered the depression of 1873, and became amillionaire by the end of the decade. At its peak the businesshad 200 salesmen on the road and was grossing two million dollarsa year. Warner gave up the business in 1884, selling it to theparent firm in Cincinnati.

Gustav Mosler, 1816-1874, a newspaper editor inAustria, immigrated to Cincinnati in the 1840's. He and FredBahmann founded the Mosler-Bahman Safe Company with a factory onPearl Street in Cincinnati in 1867.

American's industrial revolution began toblossom, and so did the safe business and renamed it the MoslerSafe Company. Soon the business was moved to larger quarters onElm St. Growth continued and a new factory was built on Front St.and devoted entirely to burglar-proof work. It becameincorporated under the name Mosler Bank Safe Co.

By the early 1880's, sales offices had beenestablished in New York, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City,Philadelphia, and Mexico City. Mosler had undoubtedly become thenumber one safe maker in the world.

After 1890, a 300,000 square foot plant wasconstructed in Hamilton, Ohio, and the Mosler Safe Co. existsthere to this day.

---Interior of safe---

The 1892 Williams Directory for Cincinnatilists the Mosler Bank Safe Co., 86 Elm and Hamilton, MosesMosler, pres. And treas.; Wm. Mosler, vice pres. And secy. MaxMosler (grandson of Gustav?) was given as manager of theCincinnati Branch of the Mosler Safe Co., 86 Elm. Gustav's widow,Mrs. S. Mosler, was also listed at her home, 540 1/2 W. 8th.

In the same directory there is a listing forMosler, Bahmann & Co. E.H. Austerlitz, pres. And treas.; FredNaeher, vice pres. and supt.; Fred Naeher, Jr., secy.; SafeManufs., 2-8 Kindel Ave. Hence two different companies existed in1892, and probably nearly back to the death of Gustav. FredNaeher was associated with Moses Mosler and Fred Bahmann inKenny's Illustrated Cincinnati, which seems to be a late 1870'spublication.

I asked Jack Stecher, the most knowledgeableWarner's collector I know how common Warner's safes are in hisexperience. He known of three others; none as fancy as the one inIdaho Springs. The others have plain fronts and are center splitwith hinges on both the right and left. There is one Museum ofMaritime History in Newberry, Mass., which is lettered MoslerBahmann & Co., Cincinnati, O., Warner, Stockbridge & Co.,Agt's, Rochester. N.Y. There is an 1870 date in the dial and an1875 date to a cobbler in Newberry Port. The safe from theWarner's building is still in a nearby machine shop in Rochester.The owner is the son of Jacob DeMay from the family that boughtout the remnants of the Warner Co. from the English syndicate inthe 1900s. The safe has been painted over so there's no visiblelettering. Jack thinks the Idaho Springs safe is earlier than1892, because Warner gave up the safe business in 1884.

A Warner's safe should be the ultimate go withfor the Warner's collector. In this hobby, there's no tellingwhat's going to turn up!

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