From its invention by John S. Pemberton in 1886 to today, Coca-Cola has become a staple of American and worldwide culture. As the consumerism of the mid-20th century blossomed, Coke showed itself to be a master of mass advertising, and it was this skill which helped the company dominate the American market. Indeed, even in 1886, Pemberton spent more money on ads than he made in sales, producing dozens of signs and other promotional items.

Aside from techniques that today seem quite conventional—TV and magazine ads, for example—Coca-Cola pioneered the art of brand recognition with an almost endless variety of promotional materials, from clocks to coolers to calendars. All bore the immediately recognizable logo and, in some form or another, the classic red-and-white color scheme. Many also included a Coke slogan, like “Thirst knows no season,” “Delicious and Refreshing,” and “Things Go Better with Coke.”

Collectors today can find a flood of Coke memorabilia and collectibles—part of these items’ genius in the first place was their durability and usability. To pick one example among many, Coca-Cola thermometers served a practical purpose that helped ensure a long promotional life. This set them apart from the posters and other advertisements that most store owners would routinely discard. As the decades passed and popular styles changed, so did the design of these thermometers. Some in the 1940s, for example, featured an Art Deco-inspired design.

Coke bottles, too, evolved over the decades, from a non-standardized hodgepodge of improvised glassware in the early 20th century to the now-classic curved shape known as the “Mae West” or “hobbleskirt” bottle, which was patented in November 1915 after a two-year contest to find the perfect design. Then as now, consumers instantly associate the shape with the Coca-Cola brand.

When Christmas came around, it was a safe bet that Coke would market Santa figurines, ornaments, or snow globes, all bearing the Coke logo. If Dad needed a way to bring the family’s cool, refreshing bottles of Coke on a picnic, he could buy a Coca-Cola cooler, a portable version of the larger coolers which retailers relied on to store and display Coke in the early years.

Alongside all of these items, collectors also prize oilcloth, tin, and especially porcelain Coca-Cola signs, some of which helped popularize the famous “red button” bottle cap shape. Other collectibles include tin-plate serving trays and even the vending machines themselves.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Coca-Cola Collectibles

Coca-Cola Collectibles

The Collectibles page of the official Coca-Cola website features photos and videos on bottles, signs, advertising, … [read review or visit site]

Bobbys Coca-Cola on the Web

Bobbys Coca-Cola on the Web

This site, a group effort, is a great reference for Coca-Cola collectors. Start with the timeline and product lists… [read review or visit site]

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Ralph and Carol Falvo's excellent collection of automobiles, petroliana, jukeboxes, soda, and general store items. … [read review or visit site]

The ultimate guide to vintage soda vending machines, from Coca-Cola to Pepsi to Royal Crown to Dr. Pepper. Start at… [read review or visit site]

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Recent News: Coca Cola

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Community Calendar Feb. 12
Hattiesburg American, February 12th

•Meeting: Forrest-Lamar Republican Women, 11:30 a.m., Movie Star Restaurant, 5219 Old Highway 11. Topic: Human trafficking in Hattiesburg ... •Event: 31st annual Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo, James Lynn Cartlidge Forrest County Multi Purpose...Read more

'Bringhe na may tutong,' pork belly 'adobo' confit–Claude Tayag reinvents the ..., February 12th

Adding to the over-the-top feel are old posters recalling a bygone era—Cortal aspirin, Royal Tru-Orange soft drink, and a young Gloria Romero touting Coca-Cola. Tayag tweaks Filipino comfort food from his youth in Pampanga. He remembers that the...Read more

The TIF Illumination Project at Three
Huffington Post, February 12th

The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Illumination Project is an effort of a group of volunteers in Chicago to investigate and expose a decades-old municipal finance scheme that annually extracts almost 500 million dollars of local property taxes and...Read more

Tacos, dim sum and more: 3 date ideas on Buford Highway
Access Atlanta, February 12th

The best part is it's incredibly affordable; it's rare to have a check for more than $15 a person. Resist the urge to go home and fall into a glorious food coma. Resist, because there are ... Walk to the back for a heavenly surprise. Head to the...Read more

Shout Out: Oscar predictions in Long Grove
Chicago Tribune, February 12th

If you want to have a say in who wins the upcoming Oscar awards, move to Hollywood and excel in the film industry. If you just want to feel like you've supported your favorite actor and actress, drive to Ethel & Lucy's in Long Grove and cast a vote...Read more

See & Do: Your guide to upcoming events
Newnan Times-Herald, February 12th

Items to be displayed include many on loan from the former Sewell's General Merchandise Store collection. A wide variety of Coca-Cola items such as branded signs, serving trays and metal lunchboxes will also be included. ... is sponsored by The Hollis...Read more

Antique Coca-Cola posters, Winchester bullet boards will be part of Showtime ...
ArtfixDaily, January 28th

This 1914 self-framed tin sign for Coca-Cola, in excellent condition, will be sold April 1-3 by Showtime Auction Services in Ann Arbor, Michigan. ... The sale will also feature a large collection of over 50 rare clocks, some of them from the early 19th...Read more

Cedartown's Coca-Cola history coming alive
The Polk Fish Wrap, January 27th

A museum devoted to a love of Coca-Cola in Cedartown's old bottling plant is entering a new phase of construction as the interior and exterior continue to evolve. Jamie Morris and his son Daniel are both ... At their own expense, the Morris family...Read more