Antiques: The Fascinating History of Coca Cola


I actually enjoyed it so much that I also had a dry February. The following year, because so many people were drying out in January, I stayed wet, well wet is probably a better description. This year I am faced with a dilemma, as our Christmas guest list runs until mid-January, going “dry” on New Years Day would be antisocial. I decided it would, but just in case I change my mind, I’m going to fill up on Coca-Cola.

The phenomenon known as Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by said pharmacist John Pemberton as a simple experiment of curiosity and began his life sold by the glass in the Jacobs Pharmacy in Atlanta where he worked. The name comes from the ingredients originally used to make the drink; coca leaves and cola nuts. Frank Robinson, the Pemberton accountant, is actually the one who created both the very distinctive Coca-Cola name and logo, which was in fact his own handwriting. He was also responsible for advertising the drink as ‘take me back’. Coca leaves, which were also used to make the drug, cocaine, were eventually replaced in the early 1920s by caffeine.

Coca-Cola was first officially advertised in a magazine in 1902, and other products quickly followed, such as glasses and trays. The image of Coca-Cola changed slightly during the 1920s and 1930s, alongside the ingredients, to become more family-friendly, focusing on group fun.

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Coca Cola.

The best known product of this, of course, is the famous images of Santa Claus. The Winter Wonderland Santa Claus was developed by Swedish artist Haddon Sundblom in the early 1930s to match the patented red of Coca-Cola cans and is still a byword for the Coca-Cola we love today.

The value of most Coca-Cola ads is calculated the same way as most collectibles; scarcity and condition are generally the most important and achieve the highest prices. Objects from the late 1880s and 1890s, before the company’s official advertisement, are difficult to find these days, making them highly sought after, as are unusual objects such as works of art with images of men, instead of the traditional smiling ladies.

About Oscar L. Smith

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