Feature: Coke Bottles: Worth Collecting? Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals


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Coke Bottles: Worth Collecting?
 Origins of a collecting icon - Coke Bottles

Classic design: part marketing savvy, part lucky mistake

Classic design: part marketing savvy,
part lucky mistake

The now-familiar shape of the Coke bottle is part marketing savvy, part lucky mistake.

In the first years of the 20th century, bottled soft drinks were sold from large tubs filled with ice water. Customers would reach in, grab a bottle, and keep grabbing until they found the brand they were looking for. Most soft drinks came in straight-sided bottles; it could be hard to tell what you had, as labels often came off in the water.

Coca-Cola executives realized if their bottle could be identified by feel, they'd be ahead of their competitors. And a distinctive shape could be trademarked, another advantage.

A committee was formed to choose a design. In the summer of 1913, the plant manager at a Coca-Cola bottle supplier in Terre Haute, Indiana, sent an employee to the library to look up information on coca leaves and kola nuts, thinking a bottle that echoed the shape of the drink's original ingredients would be unique.

But the employee ended up on the wrong page of the encyclopedia. The bottle design the Indianans came up with vertical striations, a bulging middle was based on the seed pod of the cacao tree, no relation to coca or kola. But the committee loved it.

After some discussion, light green glass was chosen over brown; the logo continued to be modeled on flowing script first penned in 1886 by the bookkeeper to Coca-Cola's inventor, Dr. John S. Pemberton. The bottle went on to become a fixture on the pop culture landscape.

Today most Coke is purchased in aluminum cans and plastic bottles, but the familiar glass-bottle shape is there even when it's not. The "swoosh" that appears in Coke's advertising and packaging is a stylized version of the patented cocoa-bean curve, a permanent reminder of its early beginnings in Terre Haute.


Schucker - Original Oil-1946 (Drink Coca-Cola)
Original Oil-1946 (Drink Coca-Cola)
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