Monday, February 16, 2015

Warner Company - Web Search in Practice

Larry Kachelriess, a newly minted member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS written out for all of those robot search engines that have a hard time translating abbreviations), signed up at the National Stock and Bond show in Herndon VA. Larry had limited success finding references to the Warner Company online and contacted me asking if I could find any information about the company, one of the five specimens he purchased at the show from Tom Lareau. We are always excited to have new members and was intrigued by the challenge. I spent the next evening digging into what turned out to be a fascinating company with a significant history in Pennsylvania related to William Penn, credited with establishing Pennsylvania, I know, really. During my research an interesting fact, good trivia for your next dinner party, turned up from Wikipedia that the name Pennsylvania originates from the combination of Sylvania, one of the first proposed names for the area being land granted (Latin for "forests" or "woods"), which King Charles II changed to "Pennsylvania" in honor of Penn.

Starting with the elements on the certificate I started my review searching for its many clues. First, this certificate is a specimen of Common stock $10 par value of the Warner Company. Other observations are the imprint in the lower center on the certificate, the incorporation from Delaware in 1929 and a closer inspection of the vignette at the top of the certificate shows a water-front scene in the printed the text, "Warner 1794" on the side of the warehouse and is bracketed by classic profile images of William Warner and John Warner wearing vintage clothing. So this company appears to be a re-creation of an older company using the history of the family as part of the brand. The president of the company was printed clearly as John Curtin Jr. and Treasurer, Charles Warner, Jr. Printed by Security-Columbian Banknote Company.

Putting those facts to work, using Google, documents were found with the date January 1, 1948 listing John Curtin, Jr. as being named President of the Warner Company. I am fairly certain the Specimen is most likely from that time period. Chasing that thread of information, main offices of the Warner Company, were published as 219 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA.  Business interests primarily dealt in the quarrying and transport of limestone and distributing sand and cement. Warner Company had branch offices maintained at New York, Pittsburgh, and Wilmington. Operations appear rather widespread focused on the eastern seaboard in the North Atlantic area and through the Pittsburgh office reached westward.

Searched: “1948 "warner company" philadelphia -time” 

Results: http://

Uncovered the specific file date of incorporation: March 25, 1929.

Searched: “219 North Broad Street Philadelphia” 


The building that was used by John Curtin for the re-created Warner Company had its own interesting history. George Flint, local entrepreneur, being a major partner and later President of the REO Motor Company in Philadelphia chose to place his personal headquarters in Philadelphia on Automobile Row. In early 1920, Flint purchased a couple of 1850s-era structures at 219-225 North Broad Street and announced that he would construct a 15-story, $750,000 office/factory in the 80′ x 100′ space later reduced to 11 floors at a cost of $350,000. It was known as the Flint Building. The building officially opened on April 1, 1922 and was occupied by Flint through the explosive growth period of the auto industry. In the 1940s and 50s, with Automobile Row completely removed to the northern end of the building and the upper floors, along with Mr. Flint’s empire vacant, the space was occupied by the Warner Company, fast forward to 2003, a year after Tenet Healthcare, then tenants, began a 20-year merger with the Drexel University School of Medicine, the old Flint Building was purchased by Drexel University for $4.2 million, fully refurbished now named the Arnold T. Berman, M.D. Building.
My search continued looking for references to the Warner Company in the digitized repository within Below is the syntax to target the search to the specific site.

Search: "warner company" +pennsylvania 

Results: BzY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tTPQVNDTL8KhNoC1gZgG&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22John%20Curtin%20Jr.%22%20warner&f=false 

The next search was just for "John Curtin Jr." Warner with the name in quotes to force an exact match on the name yielding this document that after reading, was the real key to researching the Warner Company. A comprehensive section of a book dedicated to the creation and history of the company.

Search: "John Curtin Jr." Warner 

Results: Pennsylvania Titan of Industry by SYLVESTER K. STEVENS, Ph.D State Historian; Executive Secretary, Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies - Volume Three LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC. New York 1948 

Wrapping up the recent history, I turned my search engines on the older Warner Company’s activities.

Expanding the search into the history of the name, the search into the Warner Company yielded Charles Warner which returned a number of results as Charles holds an interesting linkage with William Penn, the English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the turn of the 16th century.

Once a thread could be established between the Warner family and William Penn, the Manor house was added to my search request unveiling a family history of the Warner family and their expansion into the new American west.

Search: history of pennsbury manor "charles warner" 

Results: provided by Hayward Dare Warner in 1971

History paints the early Warner family as pioneers coming to America even before the land grant to Penn was established. Joseph Warner, born in 1742, a distant relation to Charles, was one of the founders of the Bank of Delaware. He and his sons, John and William, (pictured on the certificate) operated a line of boats between Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia and had a trading business along the coast and with the West Indies. Some of this family settled around Wilmington.

(Source: Quaker and Special Collections, Haverford College)
In 1794, descendants of William, Jr. , organized The Warner Company of Philadelphia that operated as a large firm dealing in sand, gravel and other construction materials. At some time during that period they acquired deserted land where William Penn's "Pennsbury Manor" once stood. The manor construction started and opened in 1683 and had since fallen into disrepair and destroyed. After some convincing by local politicians, on Sunday, October 23, 1932, the 250th anniversary of Penn's arrival, a ceremony was held at the site of William Penn's home. Charles Warner, President of the Warner Company, presented the deed for nine and eight tenths acres-the portion of their 5,000 acre property on which the buildings had stood to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a deed to the tract of land on the river north of Philadelphia as a permanent memorial site to the Quaker statesman and benefactor of mankind. Administered by The Pennsylvania Historical Commission who assumed the responsibility for that which then became known as The Pennsbury Memorial as the manor was not yet envisioned. The exact location of the original manor house was on this property was not to be rediscovered for many decades. 

Turns out Larry has a pretty good eye, finding a company that has a real connection to our nation’s history for the reasonable price of $32. 

I am always looking for other companies to research at no cost, so please contact me via email at As closing thought, I would like to thank all of the people responsible for providing this material online and allowing me access, as this blog entry is a compilation of these sources listed above. 

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