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]

Soda-Machines.com

Soda-Machines.com

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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Other Great Reference Sites

Recent News: Coca Cola

Source: Google News

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AL.com, December 28th

The zones straddling wet and dry are biological hotspots, providing the just right mix of water and habitat required by so many of our rare organisms. The problem is that .... (T. E. Armitstead Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript...Read more

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Daily Beast, December 28th

Its bright red-and-white aircraft, which look like giant Coca-Cola cans with wings, quickly became ubiquitous, and soon there was a proliferaton of subsidiaries including Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, Philippines AirAsia, AirAsia India, AirAsia Zest...Read more

Jean McClelland: Vintage calendars can be fun and shed light on the past
Huntington Herald Dispatch, December 27th

Advertising calendars claim much of this market and if you have an old Coca Cola calendar or one that deals with guns you have a prize. Sometimes a calendar can be a crossover collectible such as a calendar that features Mr. Peanut as an advertisement...Read more

Protesters Demand Justice For Gurley As Gap Grows Between NY Cops and City
Daily Beast, December 27th

The sentiment was echoed by Terrence McIntosh, a 30-year-old father of two who lives at the Pink Houses and came out today to protect his kids. “I have two kids and ... Its bright red-and-white aircraft, which look like giant Coca-Cola cans, quickly...Read more

At Coke, Newest Flavor Is Austerity
Wall Street Journal, December 23rd

Coca-Cola Co. ads starring Santa Claus have been playing on TV, but the mood inside the world's biggest beverage company is far from merry. Atlanta-based Coke plans to ax at least 1,000 to 2,000 jobs globally in the coming weeks, the biggest thinning...Read more

Coca-Cola Plans Large-Scale Light Show For New Year's Eve
The Chattanoogan, December 19th

Event goers will also make memories in the ChattaNew Year photo booth, benefitting the Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga, or outside in an antique Coca-Cola delivery truck. An outdoor family-friendly street party and Kidz Zone, powered by...Read more

How Coca-Cola's 'American Idol' Deal Transformed TV Advertising
AdAge.com, December 18th

The show "brought Coke to viewers young and old alike, as 'Idol' at the time had a younger-than-average median age for primetime and was one of the few shows that truly crossed generations," said Billie Gold, VP-director of buying and programming...Read more

Coca Cola superfan Davide Andreani's world-beating can collection featured in ...
Guinness World Records, December 8th

Italy's Davide Andreani received his first Coca Cola can back in 1982 when he was just 5 years old, an event which was to kick off a lifetime's obsession with the soft drink. Soon after, Davide began collecting the distinctive tins, with his father...Read more