Circa-1930s embossed tin sign for Whistle soda, 28½ by 20¼ inches, near mint, est. $800-$1,400. Morphy Auctions image.
DENVER, PA. - Country stores and old-time soda shops may be a thing of the past on Main Street America, but they’re being replicated, and in great detail, in the homes of collectors from coast to coast. Antique advertising signs, syrup dispensers, Coca-Cola calendars and promotional items, tins and early beverage bottles are more popular than ever, with a demand that outstrips supply when it comes to rare and perfect examples. Morphy Auctions’ gallery is always a hive of activity before and during its Antique Advertising sales, and that’s expected to be the case when the Pennsylvania-based company hosts it Saturday and Sunday, January 17-18 specialty sale.
Within the 1,700-lot offering are many beautiful ceramic and metal syrup dispensers of the type used in soda fountains in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A rare variation of Fowler’s Cherry Smash dispenser, with a colorful logo of three cherries suspended from a leafy branch and “5 Cents” emblazoned on its sides, is cataloged as Lot 1220. In near-mint condition, it is estimated at $2,000-$2,500. Lot 1261, a 1918 Howell’s Orange Julep dispenser in excellent condition, displaying a vibrant orange hue, is expected to make $1,500-$3,000.
Coca-Cola collectors should feel amply refreshed by the 800+ auction lots of advertising items issued by the world-famous Atlanta bottling company. A highlight is Lot 80, a rare 1901 Coke calendar in an ornate gilt frame, presented in a shadowbox. The calendar originated from the City Drug Store in Myersdale, Pa., and retains the original drugstore sticker. Near mint, it is estimated at $10,000-$18,000.
A wonderful example of a 1930s Coca-Cola bottle-shape radio will be offered as Lot 675. The realistically designed radio has strong paint, a lustrous shine and even illuminates. “It would be hard to improve on the condition of this radio. It’s a real beauty,” remarked Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions. The 23½ inch Coke radio could reach $3,500-$5,500.
Many other soft drink brands are represented in the sale – some familiar and others more obscure. A dazzling example of artistry and rich coloration, Lot 1076 is a circa-1930s embossed tin sign for Whistle soda. “Thirsty? Just Whistle” the sign suggests, adding, “Demand the Genuine” and “No Preservatives.” The 28½ by 20¼ inch, near-mint sign is estimated at $800-$1,400.
Lot 941 is a 1907-1914 cardboard cutout depicting Moxie’s marketing and advertising guru Frank Archer seated on a crate of Moxie. The sign is preserved under glass in a shadowbox, and in terms of condition, Morphy says: “A better example may not exist.” The presale estimate is $1,000-$2,000.
An oval tin “Say Hires” sign with the company’s pointing-boy mascot holding a foaming mug of root beer dates to around 1907. Measuring 24 inches tall and exhibiting outstanding graphics, it is entered as Lot 1136 with a $3,000-$6,000 estimate.
Another classic American soft drink is Orange Crush, which is advertised in a 1938 embossed tin sign with an image of a ridged, 1920-patent-date bottle. Highly detailed, the hard-to-find sign is 54 inches tall and will be offered as Lot 1174 with expectations of an $800-$1,500 selling price.
An outstanding selection of more than 300 tobacco-related lots is included in the sale. A prized example, Lot 1454 is an Exquisite Cut Plug Tobacco flat pocket tin from Larus & Bro., Richmond, Virginia. An extremely rare tin featuring an image of a glamorous woman in evening wear, it is estimated at $1,400-$1,800.
“There should be hands raised all over the room for Lot 1720,” said Morphy, describing a Mail Pouch Ribbon Cut Chewing Tobacco radio. “It’s the only example we’ve ever seen, so we know it’s extremely rare.” Its knobs are still present, and the depiction of the tobacco product on its facade is exceptional. The presale estimate is $3,000-$5,000.
Morphy’s Jan. 17-18, 2015 auction will be held at the company’s gallery, with a live webcast available to view online. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live. Start time on both days is 9 a.m. Eastern.
Preview the entire auction inventory daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or from 8-9 a.m. on auction day, just prior to the start of the sale. 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 live bidding on auction day, call 717-335-3435 or email email@example.com. Note: Absentee bids may now be placed online through Morphy Live anytime prior to the auctioneer’s announcement that a lot is open for bidding on the floor.