Bottled Memories: Meet the Lifetime Coke Collector Who’s Preserving a Little Bit of History

Bottled Memories: Meet the Lifetime Coke Collector Who’s Preserving a Little Bit of History

If you wanted to become an ace collector of Coca-Cola memorabilia, getting a job at a Coke bottling factory might be step one.

It certainly was the first step for Adelaide man Alby Semmens, whose collecting career took off while working at Coca-Cola's Thebarton factory from 1967 to 1998.

Alby was a signwriter responsible for embellishing South Australian delis, or corner shops, with Coke signage. His movements as an employee also let him keep an eye on promotional materials marked for disposal – a classic case of one company’s trash becoming another man’s treasure.

It was the perfect inside track for nabbing collectibles.

"For 12 years of my time there I didn't worry about collecting but every Christmas Coca-Cola would give you something and you'd take it home and put it away in a box,” Alby said.

“After a while I realised the cupboard wasn't big enough for them. It is now! I have a room 6m x 7m with ceilings, walls and shelves covered with collectables."

Alby specialises in collecting model cars and trucks but also has every sort of merchandise Coca-Cola put its name on.

“My favourite piece would be a Franklin Mint six-inch scale model of a Model-T Ford with the Coke livery," Alby said.

When asked why he loved collecting, Alby laughed and said it was a compulsion.

“If you try collecting you find yourself saying 'no, I don't want another one' but then you can't say no – it's just the fascination of it.”

“I keep saying I've got enough. I'm getting to the age when I've got to downscale but then at the latest collector’s club swap meet I bought more."

With a 127 year heritage to draw from, there are items in Alby's collection that would date back almost a century as well as items made as recently as last year.

Collecting is an enduring passion for Alby and he's always happy to talk about his collection: Contact him at

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