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1896 Coca-Cola calendar in shadow box display may soar to $60K

A seldom-seen complete collection of Coca-Cola calendars, including one dating back to 1896, may prompt bidding wars during Morphy Auction's Aug. 22-24 Coin-op & Advertising auction.

DENVER, Pa. – “This is our strongest sale so far this year,” remarked Dan Morphy, founder and president of Morphy Auctions, summarizing the 2,165 lots in his company’s Aug. 22-24, 2014 Coin-op & Advertising sale. “There’s such a tremendous selection of signs, soda fountain and other advertising, not to mention premier coin-op and gambling items, we decided to make it a big three-day event. The quality across the board is tremendous, and we know collectors are going to be more than pleased.”

The Friday, Aug. 22 session will open with more than 100 tobacciana lots. The big

Alcazar cigar charger ad

Alcazar Cigar charger depicting ‘America’s Winningest Horse,’ manufactured by Louis Kindler Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Est. $6,000-$12,000. Morphy Auctions image

winner in the category could very well be Lot 40, a handsome charger advertising Alcazar Cigars and depicting “America’s Winningest Horse.” Measuring 17 inches in diameter, the charger could cross the finish line at $6,000-$12,000. Among the tins to be auctioned, two of the most desirable entries are Lot 86, a Cardinal Cut Plug Tobacco pocket tin, $2,500-$3,500; and Lot 85, a Torpedo vertical pocket tin, $1,500-$2,500.

Over 400 general store-related items will follow, with many of America’s favorite advertising mascots featured. Included in this group are Lot 168, a Planter’s Mr. Peanut figural papier-mache blinker, and Lot 316, a circa 1905-1910 Sleepy Eye Flour tin sign that colorfully depicts the trademark image of a proud Native American, “Old Sleepy Eye.” Estimate: $4,000-$7,000. A great catch for any antique advertising collection, Lot 294 is an extremely rare convex porcelain sign advertising Red-Top Flour and depicting a little boy climbing over a fence. In near-mint condition, it is expected to realize $15,000-$25,000 at auction.

Other sign highlights include Lot 320, a 1956 Merita Bread embossed-tin depiction of a Lone Ranger-type Western character on horseback, near flawless and in 9.7 condition, est. $10,000-$15,000; and Lot 328, a double-sided Sweet-Orr Union Made Clothes oval porcelain sign with tug-of-war graphics, est. $1,500-$3,000. Also notable are Lot 213, a Heinz pickle-shape string holder, $3,000-$5,000; and Lot 393, an oversize De Laval tin charger, $4,000-$6,000.

“Most of the signs in the auction are near mint and from a single-owner collector who was a condition buyer,” Morphy noted.

1896 Coca-Cola calendar

1896 Coca-Cola calendar, extremely rare, presented in a deep shadow box with gilt frame. Est. $30,000-$60,000. Morphy Auctions image

The auction’s opening day will wrap with 250 soda fountain-related lots, including 100 antique and vintage glass straw holders. A top pick from the nicely varied assortment is Lot 614, which contains two early rose glass jars with original lids and finely hand-painted details. They are estimated jointly at $1,500-$2,500.

Saturday’s session will open with 400+ Coca-Cola lots. The section is led by the incomparable Gordon P. Breslow calendar collection, which includes an example of every calendar issued by Coca-Cola since 1896. Many of the calendars are the very ones pictured in Petretti’s Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide, and are regarded as the finest known examples.

Lot 711, Coca-Cola’s 1896 calendar, is believed to be the only surviving calendar from that year that retains its (partial) calendar pad. Presented in a deep shadow box with an ornate gilt frame, it is graded excellent plus to near mint, and is entered with a $30,000-$60,000 estimate.

Lot 719, a 1900 Coke calendar, is one of only two known to exist that are in near-mint-plus condition. It features the first beauty to appear in Coca-Cola ads, the model and actress Hilda Clark. Measuring 16 x 20 inches (framed), it is entered in the sale with a $50,000-$100,000 estimate.

“I can’t even tell you if I know anyone else who has a complete run of Coca-Cola calendars,” said Morphy, commenting on the centerpiece collection of the day. “Many of the calendars in Gordon’s collection are one of fewer than six known, and all are in spectacular condition. The opportunity just doesn’t arise for Coca-Cola collectors to be able to fill the missing slots in their calendar collections, but here we have a collection that includes a calendar from every single year since 1896. I suspect we’ll see some very competitive bidding and perhaps even a world record price.”

Additional Coca-Cola rarities include more than 100 porcelain and tin signs, most in near-mint-plus condition; and Lot 879, a Coca-Cola Chewing Gum bookmark, $2,500-$3,500.

Other early soda brands popular with collectors are represented by Lot 996, a 1909

Double slot machine

Mills Double Dewey upright slot machine, 5/25 cents, with original music. Est. $100,000-$125,000. Morphy Auctions image

Pepsi-Cola tin straw holder, $4,000-$8,000; Lot 1035, a rare and desirable 8-inch-tall tin cutout of the Hires boy, est. $4,000-$8,000; and Lot 1034, a petite 1900 Hires “Munimaker” salesman’s sample root beer dispenser. Made of marble, glass, nickel and zinc, it is a line-for-line scale-model replica of a Hires dispenser typical of those used at soda fountains around the turn of the 20th century. It is cataloged with a $40,000-$60,000 estimate.

An appealing selection of more than 150 soda fountain syrup dispensers offers a broad range of price points to suit beginning through advanced collectors. Lot 1091, a dispenser for Grape Julep soda, is estimated at $5,000-$8,000; while Lot 1145, a dispenser for Montelaise Cheriola soda, may be the only extant example, and is estimated at $12,000-$18,000. At the upper end are Lot 1131, a Hires Mettlach dispenser, $25,000-$45,000; and Lot 1090, a Pepsi-Cola pottery syrup dispenser that tops the group with a $30,000-$40,000 estimate.

A standout piece is Lot 1444, a figural circa-1900 leaded-glass street sign with curved ruby acid cutback glass top and bottom panels advertising a drug store and pharmacy. Its gently nipped-in waist is banded with multicolored cabochon “jewels,” which add a quality touch to the artistically crafted, eye-catching sign. Estimate: $15,000-$30,000.

Day three will start off with the clanging and bell-ringing sounds of more than 100 pinball machines, the third such offering from the collection of David Silverman, founder of the National Pinball Museum. Among the machines to be offered are three models by Williams: Lot 1500, “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” $4,000-$6,000; Lot 1507, a 1967 “Beat Time,” $1,000-$1,500; and Lot 1517, a “Satellite” pinball, $800-$1,200.

Next up will be 80+ coin-op and gambling items. Lot 1614, a Pulver Kola-Pepsin gum and chocolate dispenser, could make $4,000-$6,000; while Lot 1548, a Caille 5-cent

Red-Top vintage ad

Red-Top Flour convex porcelain sign. Est. $15,000-$25,000. Morphy Auctions image

Busy Bee cast-iron trade stimulator is aiming for $18,000-$20,000. Also made by Caille, a 5-cent New Century Detroit upright slot might reach $15,000-$20,000. But far and away the king of the category is Lot 1649, a Mills Double Dewey 5-cent/25-cent upright slot machine with original music, which is entered with a $100,000-$125,000 estimate.

A single-owner collection of more than 100 straight razors – described by Dan Morphy as “the best [he has] ever seen” – includes Lot 1792, a pair of carved, pearl-handled razors by Joseph Rogers & Sons, $2,000-$3,000. Other barber-related highlights include Lot 1858, a Clauss Cutlery reverse-painted-on-glass corner sign estimated at $3,000-$5,000; and Lot 1861, a highly desirable 15-inch Koken salesman’s sample barber chair, $25,000-$35,000.

Over 50 gas- and oil-related lots will be auctioned, with a Strong John Deere 2-sided porcelain sign, Lot 1693, predicted to make $6,000-$9,000. The 150-lot breweriana section, which will close the sale, includes several rare beer cans, notably: Lot 1870, a Williams Purple Cow Lager flat top, $1,500-$2,500; Lot 1874, a Salute Lager Beer (San Francisco/Oakland/Fresno) dome top, $1,500-$2,000; and Lot 1876, an English Lad flat top with jockey-on-horse with lucky horseshoe motif, $2,000-$4,000.

All forms of bidding will be available for the Aug. 22-24, 2014 auction, including in person at the gallery, by phone, absentee or live via the Internet through Morphy Live, LiveAuctioneers, Proxibid and Invaluable.

Preview the entire auction inventory daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On all three auction days there will be a one-hour preview from 8 a.m. till the auction’s commencement at 9 a.m.

Morphy Auctions is located at 2000 N. Reading Road in Denver, PA 17517. For additional information on any item in the sale or to reserve a phone line for bidding on auction day, call 717-335-3435 or email

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