By John Buchholz. A collector since 1976, former president of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club, and current member of the Atlanta Chapter's executive board.
There are not many people who know more about collecting "cheap" Coca-Cola® items than I do, so this column is dedicated to all of you who really do want to collect Coca-Cola memorabilia without going broke.
I was talking to a young adult at one of our Coca-Cola Collectors Club national conventions and asked her if she collected anything special. She responded that she didn't collect much of anything because she couldn't afford to invest the money. Invest? Not many of us started our collecting with the idea that collecting was an investment (although in general it has turned out to be a good one). That idea of investing came within the last 10 years or so. How sad when our young people have the idea that they have to view this fun hobby as an "investment."
So my quest is to dispel the idea that you have to spend a lot of money to enjoy collecting memorabilia of The Coca-Cola Company ("Coke® items"). While this article covers bumper stickers, there are a number of other categories that can be collected without spending a fortune -- among them are miniatures, paperweights, glasses and needle cases. (Yes, I said needle cases. For less than $200, you can get a complete collection of Coke needle cases from the 1920s. Okay, so there are only two of them -- the 1924 version with a bottle and the 1925 version with the glass. But, you will have a complete collection!)
One of my favorite "cheap" Coke collectibles is bumper stickers. Sometimes you can pick them up for free, but most of the time they are priced from 25 cents to $1.00. And, if you try hard enough, you can get duplicates and then trade for new and different bumper stickers. There isn't much left that people will trade one for one, but bumper stickers still can be traded "even-steven."
Am I losing some of you with my dated terminology?
When I first started collecting bumper stickers (defined by me as a sticker that was intended for the bumper of a car -- not just any old sticker that could be put on the bumper), there seemed to be so many of them, and in the early days many of them were just given away by our fellow collectors. I have honestly bought only a few of the bumper stickers in my collection, and once I was established as a "collector," people would bring them to me at the various Club conventions. I ran an ad in the Club newsletter with an offer to trade two stickers for every one that I was sent. People were glad to have something someone wanted, and to get double back. What a bargain!
I am the self-proclaimed King of the Bumper Stickers, and I am very serious about it.
While it has become more difficult for me to find different stickers, that just makes the collecting even more fun. Bumper stickers tell an interesting story, reflecting changes in our life-styles and for sure changes in the product lines and slogans of The Coca-Cola Company.
I have separated my collection into several categories, including sports (teams/activities), cities/locations, slogans, amusement parks, patriotic, public service and radio/TV stations. You can further narrow your collecting by focusing on any one or more of these categories, or follow the tried-and-true path of collecting only what you like.
Bumper stickers come in all sizes, but the standard size is approximately 11 inches by 3 inches. I can feel some of your eyes glazing over at this point -- thinking, "Who cares?" But current and future bumper sticker collectors do care!
I hope that this has encouraged you to get started collecting Coke bumper stickers and help you find a great way to add to your fun without spending big money. And, to help you along, I'll still send you two Coke bumper stickers for each one you send me. Happy Collecting!
More on Journey
- Disney and Coca-Cola Archivists Swap Stories on Shared History
- Meet Shirley Hasley: The Accidental Coke Model Who Helped Make History
- Video: Porsche Highlights Coca-Cola History in Jaw-Dropping Display
- Coca-Cola Salesman's Career in Mississippi Started During Civil Rights Movement
- Driving Home the Message of Atlanta's Civil Rights Legacy