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Collectors Columns

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					Collectors Columns

                     California Appraisal Event
                       By Phil Mooney
                       Director, Archives Department

                     For over five hours on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003, people lined up with their potential
                     treasures at the Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort near San Diego, CA, hoping for
                     some good news at the Coca-Cola Collectors Appraisal Affair. Close to 100 people
                     came to the California appraisal event to learn about the value or history of
                     Coca-Cola® items they had.

                     Among those who came to the event were local members of the Coca-Cola
                     Collectors Club. Some brought prized items they just wanted to share, while others
                     came to see the World of Coca-Cola on Tour exhibit on display at the resort.

                     At events such as this, bottles are the most common item people bring to be
                     appraised, and this California event was no exception. I saw many embossed
                     contour bottles from various time periods. Because the bottles were mass produced,
                     and because they are so sturdy, many remain in circulation today. Even the earliest
                     embossed contour bottles do not hold much value, with most worth about $5 or $10.

                     Many people have commemorative bottles -- those created to commemorate a
                     special occasion or sports team -- in their collections. I saw a number of
                     commemorative bottles in California, including a recent bottle with the Coca-Cola
                     Santa and a bottle from the 1996 Republican convention. Commemorative bottles
                     vary in value, based on how many bottles were created, the condition of the bottle,
                     and how easy the bottle is to obtain. Even if they don't collect other Coca-Cola
                     memorabilia, many people possess one or two of these commemorative bottles
                     because of a particular interest. On average, most of these bottles are in the $5-10
                     range.
                                                Another common item is lapel pins, usually created for the
                                                Olympic Games or another sporting event. I saw pins from
                                                the 1984 Los Angeles Games, pins for the San Diego
                                                Padres and several Disney pin sets. Pins often peak in
                                                value during the time of the sporting event, when the
                                                passion for pin trading is at its highest. Most of the pins I
                                                saw were only worth $1 or $2 each. I also saw a number of
                                                current collectible items -- those sold by licensees who
                                                produce Coca-Cola toys, clothing, household items and
                                                more. These licensed items are a wonderful way to start a
                                                collection, or even decorate a room in Coca-Cola items.
                                                Most licensed items are still too new to have established a
                     value beyond the sales price.
Collectors Columns


                                                       Although not as common as lapel pins, people also
                                                       brought light-up signs, 1950s picnic coolers and
                                                       even vending machines. Fortunately, most of those
                                                       with venders only brought photos to the resort,
                                                       except for one person who had this machine in his
                                                       truck and led me to the parking lot to see it live!

                                                         I saw a number of unusual
                                                         and valuable items in
                                                         California. One man
                                                         brought a syrup keg from
                     1910, worth several thousand dollars. This rare keg, still
                     containing the syrup and the original cork, had a full label
                     on it; the paper labels usually are incomplete or damaged
                     on these kegs. I also saw a 1940s sterling silver set of
                     Coca-Cola salt and pepper shakers valued at
                     approximately $5,000, and a very rare window decal from
                     the 1920s. Another person had a carrier used to sell bottled
                     Coca-Cola in ballparks in the 1930s; the style of these
                     carriers is very different from the way drinks are served today, only holding less than
                     a dozen drinks.

                     An unusual part of the history of Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola chewing gum. Most people
                     don't know there was such a thing, but it was quite popular early in the last century.
                     The gum was available in spearmint, peppermint and wintergreen. Although the
                     sticks of gum are very rare, I actually had two different people bring sticks (even of
                     different flavors) for me to appraise. Each stick of gum can be worth over $1,000, and
                     the jars that used to display the gum are prized collectibles as well. At a private
                     auction several years ago, a single stick sold for more than $7,000.

                     Amid the rare collectibles I saw were some fake and reproduction items. The fake
                     items -- often called "fantasy" items -- were never authorized by Coca-Cola. In fact,
                     some of the fantasy items are quite infamous within the collector community,
                     including a number of belt buckles with the Coca-Cola trademark; I saw a wide
                     variety of these in California, along with a number of metal tokens that supposedly
                     granted the bearer a free Coca-Cola. The phony tokens never earned anyone a free
                     drink, and they don't earn a high price as a collectible, either. Some people buy
                     fantasy items knowing they are fakes, but unfortunately many do not know the truth
                     before they buy.

                     Reproduction items also can confuse buyers. In particular, a series of reproduction
                     trays introduced in the 1970s, but featuring images from the early 1900s, still lead
                     people to think they have a very valuable piece, when in fact they have a nice tray
                     worth approximately $10. I saw some of these trays in California, and hated to
                     break the news to those who thought they had a thousand-dollar item!
Collectors Columns

                     Because of the long history of Coca-Cola, memorabilia is often passed between the
                     generations. That can leave questions about the history of some items. It can also
                     create misunderstandings stemming from family folklore, such as those who believe
                     an item is from a date that proves impossible. In California I saw a bottle of diet
                     Coke® that someone believed was from the 1970s. Diet Coke was introduced in
                     1982, so it wasn't possible to have a bottle from the 70s!

                     However, having items passed down is how many of the Coca-Cola collectibles
                     survived throughout the years. If you have an item that's been passed down to you
                     and would like to know more about it, be on the lookout for an appraisal event in
                     your area, or join the Coca-Cola Collectors Club to meet others who are interesting in
                     memorabilia.

                     As with all collectibles, prices vary depending on the market, and depend on what
                     someone is willing to pay for an item. The values I give are my own personal
                     judgment based on recent selling prices, price guides and my experience, but prices
                     could be less or more in an actual sale or auction.

				
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