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.
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Patriotism starts at home for Canton manDetroit Free Press, July 4th
A retired construction worker, Montgomery also has collected Americana such as old Coca-Cola buttons, a toy fire truck, historical books and a red, white and blue quilt, spread over a chair. He dusts and cleans his collection – and that's just fine...Read more
Historic church chimes the AJC PeachtreeAtlanta Journal Constitution, July 2nd
The pulpit was a gift of the widow of Frank Mason Robinson, who suggested the name and logo for Coca-Cola. The land for the church was donated by A.G. Rhodes, founder of Rhodes Furniture. The chimes themselves were a gift from Rhodes' children, one of...Read more
Girls, grub and guests: A walk through a fun night at the ballparkFort Worth Star Telegram, July 2nd
Coca-Cola Family Four Packs ($69-$113) include tickets in either upper- or lower-reserved sections, jumbo hot dogs, sodas for four, two Kid's Zone wristbands and a souvenir program. What to drink: The ballpark serves Coke products. Fountain beverages ...Read more
It's the real thingGlendale Star, July 2nd
So, if you are a Coca-Cola collector, and you want to learn more about your treasures, you are invited to attend the Saturday swap meet, which takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Renaissance-Glendale Hotel. Admission and parking are free. Collectors...Read more
Historic Coca-Cola murals return to HendersonvilleAsheville Citizen-Times, June 18th
Two years ago, the owner of Dad's Collectibles in downtown Hendersonville noticed a photo at City Hall that showed an old Coca-Cola mural on the walls of the building at 620 N. Main St. That photo was the beginning of Ray's two-year quest to bring a...Read more
5 places to see Coca-Cola's history in AtlantaAccess Atlanta, June 17th
The Coca-Cola Archives – Inside the Coca-Cola Company's North Avenue building is its archives containing rare and valuable Coca-Cola branded merchandise, artwork and mementos from generations of the company's history. Unless you're a company ...Read more
Work begins on Coca-Cola murals in HendersonvilleAsheville Citizen-Times, June 15th
Commissioned by Coca-Cola, Fralin began working on two vintage Coca-Cola murals Monday that will be painted on the north and south sides of Dad's Collectibles in downtown Hendersonville this week. In 90-degree weather Monday, two men scrapped away...Read more
Coca-Cola hosts plant open houseAmarillo.com, June 10th
Coca-Cola showed off a new $9.1 million Amarillo plant with expanded warehouse capacity and double the truck bays of its former nearly 90-year-old downtown home on Wednesday. Throughout its system, Coke has over the years re-evaluated, moved or ...Read more