I often receive questions from beginner and veteran collectors about items they've found, and thought I'd share a few common questions about Coca-Cola memorabilia.
Q: For my son's 10th birthday, I want to give him a toy truck that has been in my family for years. It looks just like a Coca-Cola delivery vehicle from the 1930s. I would like to tell him more about the toy.
A: The Metalcraft Corp. of St. Louis manufactured four different versions of toy trucks for Coca-Cola from 1931 until 1934. They were exact reproductions of the delivery trucks at that time. All were constructed of heavy-gauge steel and held 10 miniature glass bottles of Coca-Cola. The early trucks had polished metal wheels and an embossed grille. Later rubber tires and working headlights were added, and finally, the "Art Deco" truck was introduced. In 1932, the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Canada Ltd. distributed more than 40,000 toy trucks in Montreal. By the conclusion of the promotion, one out of every five Montreal homes had the truck.
In the United States, bottlers distributed more than 100,000 trucks in the pre- Christmas sales period, and mail-order catalogs offered them for 48 cents each. The value has gone up significantly; the truck pictured here could be worth as much as $1,200, according to Petretti's Coca-Cola Collectible Price Guide (11th edition).
Q: I have come across a little cherub of a doll that is dressed like a Coca-Cola salesman. Can you tell me about this?
A: The "Buddy Lee" doll was manufactured by The H.D. Lee Company and distributed by bottlers in the 1950s as a promotional item. Buddy was dressed in the standard salesman's uniform of white cloth with green pin stripes with circular patches on his uniform. According to Petretti's Coca-Cola Collectible Price Guide (11th edition) these original dolls can be worth up to $1,200.
Q. I have a round china plate with a bottle and glass of Coca-Cola in the center, and "Refresh Yourself" and Coca-Cola printed around the rim. Were these dishes sold in stores? What is it worth?
A. The ceramic plate you describe is most likely from the 1930s. The 8 1/4-inch diameter plate was manufactured by The Crockery City Ice & Products Company for a local Coca-Cola bottler. This was one of many plates used by Coca-Cola bottlers at the time to promote the sale of Coca-Cola with meals. According to Petretti's (11th edition), one of these plates in mint condition can be worth as much as $325, and a complete place setting could be worth $3,000.
Q: I have come across booklets of paper holiday ornaments with Coca-Cola printed on them. Could you tell me about them?
A: Mass consumer Christmas promotions began in the 1950s. Bottlers distributed the poem "The Night Before Christmas" with cartons of Coke. Then, in the 1960s, holiday decorations were tucked inside cartons of Coke. Most were paper booklets with cut-out designs such as stars, lanterns and globes. Later, a drummer boy, three wise men and even origami "Christmas paper magic" decorations were given away. Some of these ornaments can still be found today.
If you have questions about items you've found, take a moment to look for an answer on this site. We have Collectors Columns covering a variety of subjects, and we will be adding more columns written by members of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club, so you can learn about their collections.
Phil Mooney is the director of the Archives Department.
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