William R. Warner

Digger Odell Publications 2007


The late William R. Warner, who opened a drug business in the early fifties at 2d and Girard Ave., was closely identified with the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy during its earlier days and graduated therefrom in 1856. The commencement of his business as a manufacturer dates from about 1856, at which time he devised methods and made the first sugar-coated pills that were made in America. His methods were, at first, necessarily crude, but, being of a mechanical turn and inclined to invention, he soon improved and perfected them. He also invented a condenser, a cut of which will be found on page 966. United States Dispensatory (1877) and which is also mentioned in the American Journal of Pharmacy. January. 1861, page 15. In the same edition of the Dispensatory, page 959, a filtering apparatus for the upward filtration of oils and heavier liquids is noted. We also believe that Mr. Warner was the first to suggest and practically apply the extract of cantharides for vesicatory purposes, replacing by this means the older method of using the powdered fly. He was also the originator of Ingluvin, a product obtained from the gizzard of the chicken which is prescribed largely for the vomiting of pregnancy.

During the early sixties, he purchased the wholesale drug business of John C. Baker & Co.. then located at 154 North 3d street, and at once became a factor in the jobbing drug trade of the city, and began to enlarge his line of pharmaceutical preparations. The writer who knew Mr. Warner well as a business man, was a customer of his in the latter part of the sixties. He at that time was an agent for a Cincinnati house for the sale of glycerin, a product in which he took great interest and tried hard to introduce. Frequently attention would be called by Mr. Warner to this product, and an inspection would be invited of various samples; little. however, of the glycerin produced at that time. excepting Price's English glycerin, was free from a slight animal odor. Of course. since that time its manufacture has been greatly perfected.

In 1873. lie made his first trip to Europe. visiting, besides other points, the Vienna Exposition, where his goods received the highest honors, the entire exhibit at the close of the Exhibition, being presented to the then Khedive of Egypt for the use of his army, and in acknowledgment of which, a letter of thanks was received.

In 1876 the business having outgrown the quarters on Third street, the fine large building at 1228 Market street was purchased, elegantly fitted tip and occupied. About this time, on account of the extensive growth of the business, branches in London. England. and New York City were opened, and these were soon followed by branches in Chicago. New Orleans. Atlanta. St. Louis. Denver. Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis, Minn.

In 1886 a large laboratory building at Broad and Wallace streets was erected and put into use. the business having outgrown its quarters on Market street. In 1899 the establishment on Market street was totally destroyed by fire. Offices were at once established at the Wallace street building, and business resumed, with but the lapse of a day or two.

The principal characteristics of Mr. Warner were that he was a person of quick perception, good executive ability, and had the faculty of giving close attention to business details, and, notwithstanding all these cares, he found leisure enough for patronizing his favorite arts, music and painting. He had the faculty of inspiring those who knew him best, and served him longest, to regard him not only as an employer, but as a friend and adviser.