By Phil Mooney
Director, Archives Department
On Saturday, March 9, 2002, I was part of the first Coca-Cola® collectors appraisal event at the Everything Coca-Cola store on the Las Vegas strip. For three hours, I helped more than 70 people learn about a variety of Coca-Cola memorabilia items and their current value as collectibles.
We had some pleasant surprises with a few items worth a thousand dollars or more, a number of items in the $20 value range, and an unfortunate few items that were not worth much at all. One young man from Las Vegas even brought in his school project about the history of Coca-Cola to show me.
We saw a large quantity of bottles -- ranging from commemorative bottles for local events or teams to international bottles picked up on trips overseas. Some people happened to bring in similar items; I saw three miniature Coca-Cola bottles that were actually pocket lighters. These were from the 1950s and worth about $20 to $30.
And we had a number of people who brought in trays and ladies' pocket mirrors produced for a nostalgia promotion in the 1970s. Of course, those items weren't worth as much as the original pieces!
Three of the highlights came early in the day -- a Metalcraft vintage toy truck, an early calendar and a pretzel bowl. The pretzel bowl was from 1936 and in pristine condition, and was worth an estimated $250. The 1925 calendar also was in good condition, and I gave its owner some preservation advice to make sure it remained a valuable keepsake. The calendar was worth approximately $2,500. And the toy truck from 1929 or 1930 also was in fine condition. Because of the truck's condition and because it still had its original miniature glass bottles, the toy that originally sold for $.49 with the purchase of Coca-Cola was now worth an estimated $1,500 to $2,000.
The day proved that you can have a valuable Coca-Cola collectible in your home and not even realize it.
At the event, Dan Grant -- who as a boy modeled for the Norman Rockwell painting "The Barefoot Boy" used on the 1931 Coca-Cola calendar and other items -- signed autographs.
And Joann Bongiorno was there to talk about her experiences as a member of the musical group the Nanigans, which traveled in Europe and Asia at the request of Coca-Cola in the 1950s. Joann had scrapbooks of her experience and part of the uniform she wore when entertaining the troops. We also had a number of members of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club join us for the event.
Everything Coca-Cola offered special bottles to commemorate the day, and those proved very popular, as did the many items in the silent auction. Collectibles in the auction helped people start or add to their own Coca-Cola collections, and proceeds benefited the Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas.
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