Posted 10 years ago
In response to a question about something that Dr. Pemberton himself might have handled, I promised to upload a photo of this bottle. First a brief history of French Wine Coca - First advertised in Atlanta in 1884, it was a direct imitation of a wildly popular European drink, Vin Mariani, which was in effect Bordeaux wine infused with the coca leaf from which cocaine is extracted. Pemberton claimed it " contained the medical virtues of the Erythroxylon Coca plant of Peru, African Cola nuts, Damiana (a tropical aphrodesiac and pure Grape Wine. Both the Coca plant and Cola nuts were chewed by the African natives for the energy that the cocaine and caffeine produced. At the time cocaine was also thought to be a way to cure people of their opium addictions, as opium became very popular after the civil war. On November 25, 1885 (only about a year after the introduction of Pemberton's French Wine Coca) Fulton County (Atlanta) voted to go "dry" by the date of July 1, 1886. Pemberton saw the writing on the wall and experimented vigorously throughout the winter of 1885, finally coming up with a non-alcholic substitute for the drink on May 8, 1886. It was to be called Coca-Cola.
Since French Wine Coca and the first Coca-Cola concoctions were produced in Dr. Pemberton's two story home (the syrup for the drinks was actually poured on the second floor into a large funnel which was filled with river sand. The funnel ran through the first floor's ceiling and into a large trough in the room below. This is how the syrup was filtered and "ripened". Then it was subsequently bottled in the bottle pictured.
This bottle was on display in the Schmidt Museum for many years, and it is thought to be the only known one in existence. Certainly the only one in perfect shape. My wife Jeannine collects items associated with Pemberton and bought this bottle many years ago from a home in Alabama. Enjoy!