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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Crib Sheet for CFOs on Buffett's 50th Annual LetterWall Street Journal (blog), March 2nd
Meanwhile, stock repurchases at Coca-Cola , American Express and Wells Fargo raised our percentage ownership of each…If Berkshire's yearend holdings are used as the marker, our portion of the ... Post mortems of acquisitions, in which reality is...Read more
RI train expo offers something for everyoneQuad-Cities Online, March 1st
"There's a lot of stuff I grew up with -- old toys you threw away and wish you hadn't." His adult son Brian picked up a die-cast metal Coca-Cola truck at the show; he wants to collect vintage Coca-Cola memorabilia. "It's part of our American history...Read more
In Warren Buffett's Annual Letter, More Hints, but Still No Confirmation, of a ...New York Times, February 28th
Last year, Berkshire increased its ownership stake in its four largest investments: American Express, Coca-Cola, IBM and Wells Fargo. And while Berkshire did not strike any megadeals last year, it continued to grow by making 31 smaller so-called bolt...Read more
Antiques & Collectibles: Metal and neon signs generate collector interestPost-Bulletin, February 27th
In Eric Bradley's book "Picker's Pocket Guide to Signs," you'll find information and the discovery of all sorts of signs. Today, vintage advertising signs are more like vibrant pieces of artwork with unusual slogans and nostalgic character that has...Read more
Powers Diner powering through timePort Huron Times Herald, February 27th
Liangos plans to keep much of the diner original, with an "all Coca-Cola and cars" theme. (Photo: JEFFREY M. SMITH, TIMES HERALD). Fullscreen ... "I'm excited to be able to see all the old cars cruising down the street this summer. This diner is going...Read more
The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100Cool Hunting, February 27th
the call and the first iteration of what we know today as the Coca-Cola glass contour bottle was born. Since then, hundreds of billions of bottles have been sold and along the way it would become one of the most recognizable design items around the...Read more
Coke, Winchester and other rare antique posters will be sold at Showtime ...ArtfixDaily, February 6th
Items from the more than 50 other advanced collections in the auction will include toys, banks, Coca-Cola, soda fountain (including an actual marble soda counter), candy, gum, peanuts, perfume, millinery, breweriana, distillery, petroliana (gas station...Read more
High Museum to feature exhibit on Coca-Cola bottle's 100 anniversaryAtlanta Business Chronicle, February 3rd
A section taking visitors through the design history of the bottle, including rare examples of the bottle and a "mash-up," salon-style presentation of posters by contemporary designers who have re-imagined the bottle for the 21st century. The Pop Art...Read more