Collectibles

April 14, 2014

MagiCan

We recently got an interesting research request about a past promotion that featured Coke cans with money inside of them.  MagiCan was part of the “Magical Summer” promotion from the summer of 1990.  At the time it was the largest marketing and promotional campaign ever for Coca-Cola classic.  Nearly three quarters of a million MagiCans containing millions of dollars in cash and prizes were to be randomly distributed nationwide.  Although it looked like a regular 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola classic, the “magic” behind this can was a unique, instant-win MagiCan mechanism that popped out cash (ranging from $1 to $500) or prize vouchers when opened. 

magican

MagiCan was supposed to be available from May 14th through August 15th of 1990 but was pulled early due to consumer complaints about “foul-smelling” liquid in the cans.  MagiCans were filled with water in order for to feel like a regular 12-ounce can, but malfunctions in the pop-up mechanism or faulty seals sometimes allowed the water to leak out.  While the water was tested and found to be harmless if consumed, Coca-Cola decided to end the promotion early in order to avoid any further negative press.  We have a few opened and unopened MagiCans in the Coca-Cola archives.  Does anyone remember this promotion or have a MagiCan in their collection?

magican-from-archives
March 25, 2014

Lillian Nordica

lillian-nordica

Lillian Nordica (1857-1914) was a famous American opera star and actress who performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, Madison Square Garden, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Along with Hilda Clark, she was one of the earliest celebrities featured in Coca-Cola advertising.  Her image appeared on trays, calendars, posters and novelty items distributed by the Company beginning in 1904. In 1905, Nordica appeared in a full color magazine ad that was published in the leading magazines of the time including Good Housekeeping, Munsey's Magazine and Scribner's Magazine.  Attached to the bottom of the ad was a sampling coupon for a free glass of Coca-Cola at the soda fountain.  The coupon could be clipped from the magazine ad and redeemed for the free sample.  Almost $43,000 worth of coupons were redeemed in 1905 alone.

March 25, 2014

Betty

During the 1910s, Coca-Cola advertising featured a different “Coca-Cola Girl” each year. Often the same image of a woman was used on calendars, trays, pocket mirrors and other collectible pieces for the year. This “Coca-Cola Girl” is known as Betty and she first appeared on a 1914 calendar.  She is easily recognizable by her pink dress and fanciful hat.  An interesting fact is that “Betty” is not the actual name of the model but rather a name assigned to the artwork by someone in the advertising department.  Collectors know this pseudonym, and we use it in the Coke Archives as well.  Do you know the names of any other “Coca-Cola Girls?”

betty
March 25, 2014

The Coca-Cola Red Disc

the-coca-cola-red-disc

The Red Disc or “button” sign has been used to advertise Coca-Cola since 1947. The sign was originally designed in five sizes: 4 feet, 3 feet, 2 feet, 16 inches and 1 foot. The most common of the discs is metal with the red background, and white logo. A rarer version displayed fruit, a single bottle of Coke, a lobster, a 6-pack of bottles and anything a retailer would like to have custom printed.

Most of the discs were used outside a building and were combined with other signs, such as the name of the establishment. The strong graphic image became a cornerstone for outdoor point of sale signage, especially when placed at eye level and in areas where traffic moved slowly. In 1948, the discs began to be hung inside a place of business as advertising and decoration. Red Disc images also appeared in print advertising up through the 1960’s when the Arciform or “fish tail” signs began to be used.


March 25, 2014

The Budy Lee Doll

buddy-lee-doll

Buddy Lee dolls were made from 1920 to 1962, as an advertising item, for the H.D. Lee Company, Inc. Garment Manufacturers. The first dolls were dressed in Lee overalls and displayed in a Minnesota department store. Because Lee made uniforms for large companies, such as The Coca-Cola Company, a Buddy doll was made that had him dressed as Coca-Cola route salesman.  The uniform was identical to what the Coca-Cola route men wore, down to the hat, patch, and bow tie! Buddy Lee is 12 ½ inches tall and has eyes that glance to the side – he was even seen peeking at Jamal one day.

March 25, 2014

The Arciform Sign

Coca-Cola Arciform or Fishtail Logo

The Arciform sign (better known as the “Fishtail” sign) was unveiled at a bottlers meeting in 1958.  Within a year, this piece of advertising used in copy, signage, cartons and on vending machines. Unfortunately, by 1965, the design was phased out and replaced by the Red Disc, so familiar to everyone.  It was decided that “The red circle is our strongest visual association with the trade-mark”. 

December 17, 2013

A Prized Bottle - From Egypt

1949 Coca-Cola Contour Bottle from Egypt

A Coca-Cola retiree who worked in many places, including Egypt, brought a very unique bottle to us last week. It is a 1949 contour bottle with the Coca-Cola trademark embossed in the glass in English on one side and Arabic on the other. He found the bottle many years ago and held onto it until now. He described how rare this bottle is - created by local Egyptian glass makers and filled in Egypt. As I did a little further research, I found the following snippet from the December, 1949 issue of Coca-Cola Overseas:

"During these first three years of Cairo's [Coca-Cola Bottling] operation, many unusual adverse circumstances had to be overcome. The greatest handicap all during this period was the shortage of machines and especially of bottles. Nowhere have bottles endured such a fast turnover as in Cairo. It happened quite often that the same bottle came back to the plant twice a day and was refilled during the night for its first trip next day."

Given this context, it is pretty cool to hold this bottle in my hand! I'm sure some of you Coca-Cola collectors out there have a bottle like this in your collection - please share your comments!
November 20, 2013

My Favorite Album Cover and Liner Notes

jimmy-smith-home-cookin-1958-blue-note-album-cover

One of the highlights of my career was recently getting to interview DJ, author and sports announcer Bobbito Garcia  for a Coca-Cola Journey story entitled "5 Reasons Why Dusty Tops Digital," highlighting the advantages of vinyl records. Being around so many Coca-Cola Collectors over the years inspired me to start collecting vinyl records over a year ago. I keep a list of records that I would love to have and everywhere I travel, I stop at a local record shop and bring some used vinyl back home. 

One of the things Bobbito and I discussed during the interview was our appreciation of liner notes – the stories often written on vinyl album sleeves. Liner notes provided the lost back stories about the album that would otherwise not be known. One of my favorite album covers is from Jimmy Smith’s 1958 "Home Cookin'" LP. It hangs on the wall above my desk. On the cover, jazz organist Jimmy Smith stands in front of "Kate’s Home Cooking" a Harlem, New York restaurant. I've always loved the fact that two Coca-Cola signs are displayed prominently on the restaurant’s window. 

I learned from the liner notes on the back of this album that the restaurant was considered "soul station" to many musicians in the neighborhood of Harlem's Apollo Theatre in New York City. This insight helps me imagine that that likes of Count Basie, Art Blakey and Horace Silver – all artists mentioned in the notes as frequent guests at the restaurant – could have enjoyed a Coca-Cola there between gigs at the world renowned Apollo Theatre. 

The "Home Cookin'" album was dedicated to the restaurant’s owner, Kate O. Bishop, "in recognition of a certain brand of culinary art," jazz journalist Ira Gitler wrote in the liner notes. The music "approximates the feeling her cuisine imparts." It's great to understand the significance of Kate's Home Cooking, and it’s cool to see that Coca-Cola was apparently a staple in the establishment.

Without those liner notes, I would never have that context.

October 28, 2013

The Walking Dead

Coca-Cola Nature Study Card (skeletons)

We are kicking off the Halloween celebration early this year. While organizing our Coca-Cola Nature Study Card collection late last week, we came across this card, which features skeletons walking. It is in the series of Nature Study Cards described as, "Man's Closest Friends and Most Inveterate Enemies". The fact that the background of this card is orange makes it perfect for a Halloween theme, for sure!

October 14, 2013

The Coca-Cola Collectors Club Starter Set - Revealed!

A few months back, I came across a mysterious box identified as "The Coca-Cola Collectors Club Starter Set". So, I inquired of all you Coca-Cola Collectors out there on the blog and on this Facebook post and you can see that we got nearly 20 comments! I finally got tired of looking at the box and opened it. And, some of you were right indeed - it is a train set! I am sharing the picture of the contents below. Thanks for your help!

Coca-Cola Collectors Club Starter Set