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Coca-Cola Sign Language Tracks American Culture

by Daniel Wright

"Coca-Cola" and "Coke" are among the most recognized brands in the world, in no small part due to the use of signs as part of their advertising. The company's signs have ranged from the common tin Coca-cola sign to the enormous electronic one seen today in New York City. But the red Coke sign is seen everywhere and has quite a history in varieties and types.

Tin Coca-Cola signs were affordable and many were made. As a result, these can still be found much less expensive than their porcelain counterparts.

While painted tin was reasonably durable, enameled signs held their color better and were sturdier than simple tin ones and a porcelain or enamel Coca-Cola sign is a prize. These often look just about as good as they did when brand new, while tin will show more weathering on average.

Due to wood's poor durability when exposed to the elements, wooden Coca-Cola signs are among the more rare types found on the market today. The going prices usually reflect this too, as many collectors realize what a find it is to locate one that was stored away in an attic or barn or wharehouse for many years.

As to the mural type of Coke signs painted on walls, these generally are not of typical collector interest. The sheer size of some of many Coke signs make them difficult to transport and display. Hence, some smaller Coca-Cola button signs bring more than their larger counterparts.

One of the interesting factors in these signs is the variety of shapes and designs. In the mid 20th Century, one of the most common and familiar was a round "button" sign about 16" in diameter with a large "Coca-Cola" script and "Drink" just above the logo and "In Bottles" below it. As common as they once were, one in good condition today is worth hundreds of dollars. Other signs were rectangular, square, or die-cut into shapes like vending machines, people, and six packs.

Some Coca-Cola signs reflect the times and their styles and events. Coke "went to war" and WWII era Coca-Cola signs reflect the war effort. Since its beginning, Coke advertising has reflected the history and culture around it. Coke also commissioned famous artists like Norman Rockwell to do sign art, so many are not just ads but artworks to cherish as well.

Check out our fabulous selection of vintage Coca-Cola signs. You won't believe your eyes! is the #1 online community for Coca-Cola & Pepsi collectors.

Published November 1st, 2007

Filed in Hobby

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