Simon Baybrooke-Gibbens is a self-confessed Coca-Cola geek. We caught up with him recently at the Coca-Cola Collectors Fair in London to ask him about his collection – and found out how Coca-Cola was a big part of his recent wedding.
The Web designer – "Si" to his friends – is British, but just got married in Alabama. But first he and his now-bride, Claire, stopped off for a bit of shopping at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. They bought so much that they got a cheer for the longest receipt the sales associate had ever seen!
Si has 100 items in his Coca-Cola collection, including his favorite: a gold, limited-edition Coca-Cola Rugby World Cup 2015 bottle and scarf. He talked to us about the things he brought to the Coca-Cola Collectors Fair and why he loved the brand so much.
'The most expensive thing I’ve brought to sell'
My bottle by American designer Britto. He did a series of six Coke bottles. It was actually a wedding present from my wife. In return I gave her a necklace made from the rim of a Coke bottle. I love the Britto bottle, but I know I there are more out there.
We got married in Alabama, and Coke was a big part of our wedding. In fact, our to-do list was: 1. Visit the World of Coca-Cola; 2. Get married; 3. See the family. We spent the most of our holiday money in the Coke shop – we even had to buy extra suitcases.
'My favorite piece'
Is the National Champions Crimson Tide Coke bottle. I’ve got another one of these – it’s at home with our wedding flowers in it. One of my cousins works for Alabama University and that’s their football team. They were national champions again this year so Coke did a set of bottles just for Alabama. I also like the gold Coca-Cola Life bottle I have from Rio.
'I’ve been collecting since 2007'
I bought my first bottle from South Africa, but I didn’t really get going until a few years later. As a volunteer at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, I got lots of Coke stuff there. And because I’ve worked in marketing and design, I can appreciate the art behind the brand. You can do so many things with a Coke bottle – you don’t even need the Coca-Cola logo for people to recognize it.
'We just moved to a new place'
A lot of my collection is still in storage. But because we now have a house instead of a flat, I’m looking to build shelves out of Coke bottles and use some to make a chandelier.
I really wanted to come to the Collectors Fair…
Because I’m a Coca-Cola geek! I also wanted to see what other people collect and understand what else is available, because what I’ve got isn’t half-a-percent of what’s out there.
'There are a few things here today that I’d like to buy'
Like the Daft Punk bottle set, because I like the iconic stuff as well. I’m not one for spending huge amounts on my collection – I like to pick up bits and bobs when I can. There are stories behind everything I’ve bought, like the Statue of Liberty bottle we got on Liberty Island when we were there this year.
'My favorite thing about the Collectors Fair'
Is the people. Everyone is so friendly. It’s a fantastic community to be a part of.
'What I love about the Coca-Cola brand'
Isn’t just that it’s iconic. It’s also about friendship and celebrating life. The National Champions bottle, for example, is a celebration for Alabama. I love the fact that, especially in America, it’s all based around the idea of relationships and building up friendships with people.
I met someone here today and rather than me buy one of his and he buy one of ours, we just swapped bottles. So we got an Amsterdam one and we gave him a London one. That’s the way I prefer doing it, swapping rather than selling.
'If I could own any piece of Coca-Cola history'
It would be a Bear Bryant bottle. He was a football coach for the University of Alabama, and my cousin’s wife is a massive football fan. Bear always wore a houndstooth hat. Coke brought out a bottle with his image on it, but they’re very difficult to find.
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