It’s not hard to understand why some collectors are fixated on Coca-Cola memorabilia. For over a century, the company has produced numerous banners, posters, signs, cans, and other products, some of which now fetch a premium on the secondary market.
One glass bottle in particular is currently commanding a price that might raise eyebrows: If estimates for an upcoming auction are met, it could sell for well over $100,000.
The bottle, offered by Morphy Auctions, features the curvaceous shape familiar to Coca-Cola fans, with a tapered neck and bottom. It’s said to be one of the prototypes the company toyed with back in 1915, when they were in search of a distinctive shape for their glass containers. (Aluminum cans weren’t introduced until 1960.) The bottle, which differed from the straight tube-shaped product issued by bottlers, was an attempt to make Coca-Cola stand out among copycats and was designed so it could be recognized even if it was broken.
Why is this bottle so revered? In addition to being a “missing link” of sorts in the evolution of the curved bottle, which was finalized and released in 1917, it was also supposed to have been destroyed, as all the other test bottles were. Discovered in the personal effects of a former Coca-Cola employee, it appears to be the only surviving intact prototype, making it highly desirable among collectors.
A prototype of an earlier design sold for $240,000 in 2011. Bidding on this bottle is currently at $90,000 and will almost certainly increase when the auction goes live on April 14.
Should you happen to come across one of the contoured bottles that were mass-produced following this design development, don’t assume you’ve struck it rich. The consumer bottles were produced in the millions and usually sell for between $6 and $30, with the straight-sided bottles that preceded them selling for between $25 and $400. The better money is in the “Hutchinson” bottles that pre-dated the curved design and featured a metal stopper that sealed the bottle. The Hutchinsons, which were produced between the 1890s and early 1900s, can command up to $4000.
Read more about the prototype bottle on the Morphy Auctions website.
[h/t Food & Wine]