Soda Collectibles

Vintage Soda Collectibles 1890's - 1950's

Vintage Soda Collectibles 1890’s – 1950’s

Antique advertising soda collectibles are some of the most sought-after advertising items today. Some collectors seek out antique soda memorabilia by brand. Others are interested in the variety of soda advertising that was found in the old general grocery stores, diners and service stations.

1940's Coca Cola Thermometer

1940’s Coca Cola Thermometer

Coca-Cola is the king of all soda pop brands and one of the most collected because of its abundance of antique advertising memorabilia.  Early and rare pieces have set record-breaking prices in the collecting world.  In 1891, Coca-Cola began producing at least a calendar a year, often created by famous artists such as Norman Rockwell and Haddon Sundblom. Tin serving trays and tip trays with beautiful, colorful artwork were also produced in a wide variety and proved to be one of their most long-lasting advertising specialty items ever.

While Coca-Cola is the leader of the old time soda advertisers, other companies with collectible interest are Pepsi-Cola, Vess, Whistle, Smile, 7-Up, Howdy, Royal Crown, Canada Dry, Kist, Hires, Dr. Pepper, Nehi, NuGrape, Grapette Soda, Squirt, Royal Crown, Orange Crush, Orange Squeeze, A & W, Bowey’s Root Beer, Dad’s Root Beer, Barqs and some smaller soda companies such as Stoecker, Henry Luebbe, Phos- Ferrene and others.

Antique advertising soda collectibles include soda bottles, syrup dispensers, signs, trays, clocks, thermometers, door pushes, glasses, coolers, crates, menu boards, radios, openers, postcards and much more. Rare memorabilia from popular brands and companies that made soda for a short time can generate the most value. Overall. the worth of the soda relics depend on condition, the brand, location, date, and how rare and unique it is.

 

Soda Signs and Serving Trays

Vess Cola Tin OVer Cardboard Sign

Vess Cola Tin Over Cardboard Sign 1940

Signs were the best form of advertising for soda companies from the late 1930’s through the 1950’s.  Most signs were placed inside or outside of the neighborhood grocery stores and by roadsides to help promote a particular brand.  Soda signs were also put on soda coolers, menu boards and company trucks. Signs were made out of different materials including porcelain enamel, tin, cardboard, wood and glass mounted on wood.

1920′s Orange-Julep Soda Tin Tray

1920′s Orange-Julep Soda Tin Tray

Many of the original classic signs claimed their soda was good for your health or had unique slogans such as “Enjoy Vess – Billion Bubble Beverages” or “Bevo – The All-Year-Round Soft Drink”. Other early messages were created to influence people to buy soda by the case to generate more sales.

Later on, soda ads were more simple and had just their name and logo, or shorter messages such as “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Have a Pepsi”.

Soda trays are another from of advertising and were used to serve soft drinks at soda fountains, diners and neighborhood centers. Most soda trays were circular, rectangular or oval and usually around 10 to 14 inches in size. All trays had a curled edge for the intent of keeping soda from spilling off the tray. The trays depicted colorful images of the soda company’s logo and product, or other artwork such as buildings, women and fashion, and animals.

1930′s Antique Advertising Soda Tin Trays

1930′s Antique Advertising Soda Tin Trays

The process of printing on trays evolved over the years. Initially, it was very involved  with up to twenty separate press runs being used to produce all the colors and tones. Later, a more efficient process of lithography was implemented enabling less color plates and drying time.

Smaller trays known as ‘tip” or “change” trays were about 3-4 inches in diameter. These trays were not large enough to serve soda or other beverages. The smaller trays were intended to return a customer’s change or be used for patron’s tips for the servers. They also became useful as coasters or ashtrays. Soda tip trays are not as commonly found as the brewery tip trays. However, both the soda serving trays and tip trays proved to be great forms of advertising that are highly coveted collectibles today.

Soda Bottles and Soda Carriers

1800's Antique Soda Bottles

1800’s Antique Soda Bottles

Relic soda bottles are in high demand to collectors and rare ones can value thousands of dollars. Soft drinks were first commercially bottled in the United States in the 1830’s. Soda bottles were made in many sizes, shapes, colors and textures.

Some soda pop bottles had straight forms and others were created with a contour like a torpedo, or curvy such as Coca-Cola’s hobble skirt design. In the early 1900’s most of the soft drinks had embossments on the bottles to show the manufacturer’s name and city.

Early 1900's Soda Bottles

Early 1900’s Soda Bottles

Soda bottles also had other engravings or logos to differentiate their brand. The earliest of soda bottles were hand blown glass made by craftsman skilled in bottle making. Initially, the glass bottles were made with colors of brown, blue or green because it was less expensive to produce. Eventually soda bottles were primarily made with clear glass.

Soda bottles differed by the style of the lip of the bottle and its base. From 1830 – 1870, adding an extra piece of hot glass to the top after the bottle was out of its mold created the lips of the bottles. After 1870, a lipping tool assisted in making a more precise lip and also formed light rows of ring markings that are still evident on the top of these bottles today. The bases of the bottles also vary and can help predict it’s age. Early bottles before 1860 can display a “pontil” mark that showed a rough area on the base or an “open pontil” that created a concave formation on the bottom. The mark was created when an iron “punty rod” broke while be used to keep a hot soda bottle in place while the lip was still being molded. When looking at the bottle with a pontil, the residue from the iron punty rod can often still be seen. Earlier bottles also had porcelain stoppers held by a wire bail. Eventually tops evolved into crown tops with a metal bottle cap that were easier to produce and preserved the soda better.

1950's Pepsi Sign and Wooden Crates

1950’s Pepsi Sign and Wooden Crates

Soda carriers that were used to transport cases of soda are also of interest to collectors. The old wooden crates typically held a dozen or more bottles. The original crates had a black stencil on the wood and eventually progressed into a more appealing painted case for increased brand recognition with the soda company’s name or logo.

1940's Schroeder's Wooden Soda Crates

1940’s Schroeder’s Wooden Soda Crates

The use of wooden crates were eventually replaced by metal and cardboard carriers because they were lighter and less expensive to make. By the late 1960’s, most of the metal and cardboard carriers were intended for six-packs. Many of the aluminum carriers came with wood grips or were held by wire handles. The hardest to find wooden soda crates and carrying cases are the smaller regional brands and are considered valuable.

Soda Fountain Syrup Dispensers and Door Pushes

1910's Emerson Drug. Co.'s Ginger-Mint Julep Syrup Dispenser

1910’s Emerson Drug. Co.’s Ginger-Mint Julep Syrup Dispenser

Soda fountain syrup dispensers were used in the old soda fountain shops and drug stores during the 1910’s to 1940’s. These dispensers are highly sought after soda collectibles because they are hard to find.  Since there are not that many styles, these dispensers typically bring more money than any other soda collectibles. Syrup dispensers were made of stoneware crockery, fine porcelain, frosted or painted glass, or metal, and advertised the brand on the side with the company logo or catchy slogan.

Ward's Orange Crush Syrup Dispenser

Ward’s Orange Crush Syrup Dispenser

Soda fountain syrup manufactures would often give the soda syrup dispensers away free to neighborhood pharmacies as a way to advertise their brand as long as the drug stores bought enough of the soda syrup. Syrup manufacturers such as Ward made the famous syrups for Orange Crush, Lemon Crush and Lime Crush. Ward’s dispensers were shaped like the fruit drink which was being dispensed – oranges, lemons and limes.

Early on, drug stores mixed the flavored syrups and carbonated water with bitter tasting drugs and claimed they were cure-alls for everything from the common cold to pneumonia. Later, syrup manufactures no longer included drugs in the drinks but made strong health claims such as Marrowfood’s syrup “Makes Rich Red Blood.”

Door pushes were found in the early 1900’s in the old neighborhood general stores where groceries were sold and one of the most popular advertisers on door pushes were soda pop companies. Door pushes were mostly made out of tin or porcelain. Door pushes held up well when people went in and out of the country stores and diners. It was an inexpensive way to remind a patron of their product. Most door pushes were vertically rectangular and often had crimped edges on the ends of the sign and were designed to fit on a doorframe.

Tenn Cola Tip Tray, Circa 1910

TENN-COLA SODA DRINK TIP TRAY, Circa 1910

Tenn-Cola Tip Tray for their soda brand. This one says “At Founts” & “In Bottles” with a 5 cent designation. The tray features a Saint Bernard dog with a cigar.

Saratoga Springs NY Bottled Spring Water Tip Tray

SARATOGA STAR SPRING WATER SERVING TRAY, N.Y. Circa 1910

Hoods Sarsaparilla 1904 Calendar

Hood’s Sarsaparilla 1904 Drink Litho Calendar, Lowell, MA

Coca-Cola Self Framed Tin Sign

COCA-COLA SOFT DRINK SELF-FRAMED TIN SIGN. COCA-COLA CO., ATLANTA, GA. Circa 1900

Featured is one of the prettiest Coke advertising pieces I have seen with a stunning gold self-framed tin edge on this sign.

Warners Log Cabin Sarsparilla Reverse on Glass Sign. Circa 1895

WARNER’S LOG CABIN SARSAPARILLA, REVERSE ON GLASS SIGN. Circa 1895

Featured is an incredible gilt edged glass sign advertising the well known Warner’s Log Cabin Sarsparilla brand of soda. The brand of medicinal blood purifier was sold by the H.H. Warner Company based in Rochester, N.Y.

Mueller-Kellar Co., St. Joseph, MO. Rosary Root Beer Syrup Dispenser. Circa 1915.

MUELLER-KELLER CO., ST. JOSEPH, MO. ROSARY ROOT BEER SYRUP DISPENSER. 5 Cts. Circa 1920.

Howdy Orange Soda Beverage, Cardboard Sign. Circa 1930.

HOWDY ORANGE SODA DRINK CARDBOARD SIGN. Circa 1930

Golden Orangeade Tin Sign, Rochester, N.Y.

Drink Golden Orangeade Drink, Tin Sign. J. Hungersford Smith Co., Jersey City, N. J.

Dr Pepper Tin Sign, Schonk Sign Co. Circa 1895

DR. PEPPER SOFT DRINK KING OF BEVERAGES TIN SIGN. “FREE FROM CAFFEINE”. Circa 1895

Featured is a tin sign from the Dr. Pepper Soda Company with a gorgeous woman on it. The sign says Dr. Pepper will give you “Vim, Vigor, Vitality” and the drink is “Free From Caffeine”.

7Up Oval Self Framed Tin Sign. Circa 1950

7UP SODA SELF-FRAMED TIN SIGN. Circa 1950

Featured is a very colorful oval tin sign from the Seven Up brand of soda. This sign is a self-framed sign and incorporates the slogan “You Like It, It Likes You”