Vintage Coca-Cola bottles
Vintage Coca-Cola bottles are glass bottles that once contained Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola began life in Mississippi, as a soda fountain beverage that sold for five cents a glass. Only through a long, industrialised process of bottling did it become the iconic mass market beverage it is today.
In 1894, shop owner Joseph A Bredenham began bottling Coca-Cola in earnest; in a common glass bottle called the Hutchinson.
Worried that a plain, straight sided bottle was not distinctive enough either for the drink it contained, or to set it apart from emergent copy-cat brands, Benjamin Thomas (co-founder of Coca Cola's bottling company) commissioned a new, individual Coca-Cola bottle. In 1916, The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, came up with the iconic contour shape. Artist Earl R Dean was inspired by the curves and grooves of the cocoa pod. His original, two page sketch showed both a front and back view of the bottle, but was torn in half by a solicitor keen to send the required single image to Washington. It is believed that the back view of the bottle no longer exists. The front view was approved in 1915, and came onto the market in 1916.
The six pack arrived in 1923, encouraging people to drink Coca-Cola at home. Convenience, as well as the fact that people now had the option to purchase six cokes instead of just one, massively contributed to bottle sales figures and 1928 bottles out performed fountain sales for the first time.
In 1950, the contour Coke bottle became the first commercial product to feature on the cover of Time magazine.
Packaging innovations and newly developed bottle making technologies enabled Coca-Cola to expand their product range in 1951. This was the year that 10, 12 and 26 ounce bottles joined the original 6 ounce bottle on supermarket shelves across America.
Between 1960 and 1978, Coca-Cola acquired two trademarks: the first, in 1960, for the contour bottle with the words Coca-Cola written across it; and the second, in 1977, for the contour bottle with no words written across it. In 1978, the corporation introduced the PET plastic bottle, stating environmental considerations as the motivation behind the change.
The Coca-Cola contour bottle is thought to be among the most recognised bottles in the world. The Blues term "bottleneck slide" is thought to originate, like Coca-Cola, in Mississippi, where bues guitar players would use the contoured bottle necks to play slide guitar.
Limited edition, and autographed Coca-Cola bottles are inherently collectible. As are very early bottles which can achieve thousands of dollars at auction. More contemporary "hobble skirt" bottles, however, are usually valued at between $5 and $15. Diamond design bottles tend to fetch higher prices than "hobble skirt bottles".
Vintage Coca-Cola bottle collections often spawn new collections related to vintage Coca-Cola merchandise, or images of the iconic bottle in advertisements and on promotional items.
- A prototype Coca-Cola bottle was sold for $240,000 by Julien's Auctions in California, December 2011.
- A single page sketch of the first Coca Cola prototype by Earl R Dean was sold for $228,000 by Julien's Auctions in California, December 2011.
- A 1920's Coca-Cola syrup bottle was sold for $7,500 by Richard Opfer Auctioneers in Maryland, March 2012.
- A vintage Hutchinson bottle inscribed with the words Coca-Cola was sold for $5,500 by Richard Opfer Auctioneers in Maryland, September 2011.
- A Coca-Cola "Celebrate Mickey 75" Inspirations bottle was sold for $3,300 at Sothebys, Septmber 2005.
- A pair of Coca-Cola 1950s six pack carriers was sold for $250 by Rich Penn Auctions in April 2007.
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