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Coca Cola Collectibles




Coca Cola was invented by civil war veteran, Colonel John Pemberton in 1886.  The first sales were at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, that same year.  It was considered a patent medicine, and sold from a fountain for five cents.  Like many other concoctions of the age. it was advertised to cure many diseases including morphine addiction, indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and impotence. 


Local business man Asa Candler, through several transactions totaling $2,300, obtained control of the company by 1889.  The first bottles were introduced in 1894 in Mississippi.  Asa Candler shrewdly expanded the brand by franchising to local businessmen to bottle the product and distribute it locally using their own money.  The original formula had coca leaves as an ingredient, the same ingredient in cocaine. 


By 1902 most of the coca was gone, and by 1929, all of it was gone. In 1916, the iconic contour bottle was developed for use nationally. The new Coca‑Cola bottle was given its shape in order be recognized in the dark and thus set it apart from competition.  Coca Cola today is an international brand and one of the most valuable companies in the world, despite the fact its primary product is sugared water.  The Coca Cola brand itself is considered the most valuable brand in the world.  Consumption of Coca Cola has been declining moderately in recent years due to health concerns over the high sugar content.  The company has branched out into other beverage types to maintain its level of sales.

John Pemberton                                                    Asa Candler



Coca Cola advertising is more prevalent than that of any other company in the U.S. by far.  This is due to the size of the company and a heavy focus from the beginning on advertising.  The brand has been one of the best known brands in the U.S. for over 100 years. The advertising budget was always well above most other companies. 


Early on, Coca Cola heavily used every possible advertising medium, to spread its name.  Items from before 1900 are mostly rare.  After 1900, the variety of advertising is endless and often quite available.  Early advertising made full use of chromolithography which was a time consuming, though very colorful, form of printing.  As printing techniques progressed, the company was able to get its advertising on a whole new range of materials.  The company paid up to get the best artists and use images with more colors, better graphics and more beautiful wholesome women than most other advertising of the time. The message was pleasant and uplifting.  


While other companies advertised through signs, magazine ads and billboards, Coca Cola used every possible medium.  Because they used so many methods of advertising, it has become one of the ultimate forms of cross collectibles.  That is many people who collect other things such as the items listed below, have Coca Cola items in their collection.  Different advertising mediums used include the following;

Signs                                      Calendars                            Trays                                    Blotters

Paper                                     Fans                                     Postcards                             Ads

Drinking Glasses                 China                                    Plates                                   Mirrors

Thermometers                    Bottle Carriers                    Vending Machines             Coolers

Radios                                   Can Openers                      Knives                                  Ice Picks

Ashtrays                               Lighters                                Matches                              Coasters

Menu Boards                      Door Pushes                       Toy Trucks                            Games

Jewelry                                 Clothing                                Wallets                                 Posters

Dispensers                          Festoons          

















The golden age of Coca Cola advertising is the turn of the 20th century to the early 1960s.  Most Coca Cola items after that period have little value beyond their value in use.  Items from the early to mid 1900s if in good condition can be worth thousands of dollars.  Coca Cola advertising has at times changed our popular culture.  For example, the image of Santa Claus we know today came from a Coca Cola ad campaign started in 1931.  Illustrator Haddon Sundblom drew Santa as jolly and rotund, much different than prior images.  That campaign continued until 1964.  These ads, often found at the back of National Geographic and other magazines have become collectible.      



Coca Cola advertising is the most collected material of any American company due to the sheer amount of material available, the quality of the graphics and designs, the nostalgia of many who enjoyed the marketing in the past, and the huge amount of people who love the product.  While Pepsi in recent years has rivaled Coca Cola in sales, the amount of Coca Cola collectors dwarfs that of Pepsi and every other brand.


Due to the popularity of Coca Cola advertising, and the high values of many items, numerous reproductions have been made.   Most of the repros are relatively easy to determine, but not all.  Researching items is relatively easy as there are hundreds of books about Coca Cola, including dozens about Coca Cola advertising.  The big auction houses sell thousands of items each year and the prices realized are available online for a small fee.  Also, there are numerous Coca Cola collector clubs.

Coca Cola collecting is for people of every budget.  Many items can be had for little money.  More advanced collectors can expect to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars.



Two ways to determine the age of your Coca Cola item is to look at the slogan and the logo. 

The dates of different slogans used by the company are shown below;


1886 - Drink Coca-Cola 
1904 - Delicious and Refreshing
1905 - Coca-Cola Revives and Sustains
1906 - The Great National Temperance Beverage
1917 - Three Million a Day
1922 - Thirst Knows No Season
1923 - Enjoy Thirst
1924 - Refresh Yourself
1925 - Six Million a Day
1926 - It Had to Be Good to Get Where It Is
1927 - Pure as Sunlight
1927 - Around the Corner from Everywhere
1929 - The Pause that Refreshes
1932 - Ice Cold Sunshine
1938 - The Best Friend Thirst Ever Had
1939 - Thirst Asks Nothing More
1939 - Whoever You Are, Whatever You Do, Wherever You May Be, When You Think of Refreshment Think of Ice Cold Coca-Cola
1942 - The Only Thing Like Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola Itself
1948 - Where There's Coke There's Hospitality
1949 - Along the Highway to Anywhere
1952 - What You Want is a Coke
1956 - Coca-Cola... Makes Good Things Taste Better
1957 - Sign of Good Taste
1958 - The Cold, Crisp Taste of Coke
1959 - Be Really Refreshed
1963 - Things Go Better with Coke
1969 - It's the Real Thing
1971 - I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke (part of the "It's the Real Thing" campaign)
1975 - Look Up America
1976 - Coke Adds Life
1979 - Have a Coke and a Smile
1982 - Coke Is It!

The different logos are shown below.


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