Thirst-quenching rarities underscored Morphy’s $1.4M Soda Pop & Advertising Auction in Las Vegas

Published on

Unique Pabst Breweries porcelain and neon sign lit up the June 7-8 sale with a winning bid of $27,060, more than four times the high estimate

Completely original double-sided porcelain neon Pabst sign in brilliant primary colors and marked ‘ACME CHICAGO.’ Graded 9.5 on both sides. Size: 60in x 42in x 16in. Against a $2,000-$6,000 estimate, it was the top lot of the sale, achieving $27,060.
Completely original double-sided porcelain neon Pabst sign in brilliant primary colors and marked ‘ACME CHICAGO.’ Graded 9.5 on both sides. Size: 60in x 42in x 16in. Against a $2,000-$6,000 estimate, it was the top lot of the sale, achieving $27,060.

LAS VEGAS – On June 7-8 at their Las Vegas gallery, Morphy’s popped the cap off an effervescent selection of vintage soda pop signs and other colorful advertising pieces at a spirited auction that totaled $1.4 million. The 1,329-lot sale was led by a gorgeous all-original porcelain and neon Pabst Breweries sign that attracted strong collector attention at the preview and went on to sell for more than four times the high estimate.

The glossy double-sided Pabst sign, marked “ACME CHICAGO” and executed in brilliant primary colors, showed off unique Pabst graphics and time-defying fine condition. Critically graded 9.5 on both sides, the 60-inch by 42-inch dazzler simply could not be faulted. It retained its original bubble, glass, inserts and “can.” The sign’s origin was documented by the original stamped metal tag reading “Local Union 15 International Association Of Sheetmetal Workers” and a second metal tag that was numbered “10720.” Entered with a $2,000-$6,000 estimate, it racked up 29 bids before claiming top-lot honors at $27,060.

Early soda fountain syrup dispensers found favor with collectors and included a stunning example of a hard-to-find Hires Root Beer ceramic dispenser with graphics of the company’s mascot, known as the “Ugly Kid.” Created by the esteemed German ceramics company Villeroy & Boch, the 19-inch dispenser was marked by the manufacturer and displayed excellent grade-9 condition, with the original metal spigot and lid still intact. It sold near the midpoint of its estimate range for $18,450.

A rare circa-1896 ceramic syrup dispenser made by Wheeling Pottery Co., was an example of the first style of dispenser ever released by the king of soft drinks, Coca-Cola. The highly sought-after 21-inch-tall soda fountain antique caught bidders’ attention because it is of a type seldom seen in the marketplace. It sold for a within-estimate price of $10,455. Another elusive dispenser, a circa-1910s production emblazoned “Drink Grapefruitola 5¢,” was decorated in an appealing palette of colors and graded a strong condition 9. It sold for $6,765 against an estimate of $1,500-$3,000.

When it comes to innovative product marketing, no other soda pop brand has ever matched the success of Coca-Cola, which blazed a trail for others who followed. Since the company’s first ad appeared in 1886 in the Atlanta Journal, its panoramic array of promotional signs and merchandise has inspired a legion of competitors who’ve battled for dominance – some more skillfully than others – in the lucrative soft drink market. Several lots in the auction demonstrated the ingenious way in which Coca-Cola inserted its product into every aspect of American life, often using the power of suggestion. For example, as a customer entered a mom-and-pop grocery store, they might grab the Bakelite handle of a Coca-Cola door-pull sign, like the one Morphy’s auctioned for $4,920. Once inside the store, a shopper’s attention might easily be diverted by a 42-inch-tall Coca-Cola bottle on an electrified rotating base imprinted with the message “Hospitality Can Be So Easy…” And in the midst of all those reminders, a carrier carton of refreshing Coca-Cola was never far from one’s grocery cart. Pure genius! The fully-functional grade-8.5 revolving bottle with base offered by Morphy’s was chased to a winning bid of $5,166 against an estimate of $800-$1,600.

Other Coca-Cola items of special note included a rare and exceptional circa-1900 “Hutchinson” Coke bottle of pale amethyst glass with a slug plate embossed Jasper, AL. Graded 8.75, it sold above high estimate for $6,765. An unusual circa-1910s Coca-Cola die-cut leather bottle clock de-embossed with the message DRINK BOTTLED Coca-Cola / SO EASILY SERVED was graded condition 8 and sold for $5,166 against an estimate of $1,000-$2,000. Of a later era but certainly no less desirable, a shiny circa-1950s Coca-Cola single-sided die-cut tin sign showing a six-pack of Coke bottles in a white carton was graded 9.25. It ended its bidding run near the high estimate, at $7,380.  

There were beautiful, high-condition signs for dozens of soda pop brands. A circa-1940s Orange Crush single-sided embossed tin sign with an image of the brand’s iconic “Crushy” mascot and the message “Feel Fresh! Drink Orange Crush Carbonated Beverage” was TAC authenticated and graded 8.9+. It sold above high estimate for $7,995. A great-looking double-sided painted tin flange sign with a 7Up bottle graphic and the message “We Proudly Serve 7Up” was graded 8.0 and 8.75 (per side) and sold within estimate for $7,380.

Mountain Dew was another brand that ignited bidder interest. A vibrant example of a rare single-sided vertical tin sign emblazoned “Ya-hooo! Drink Mountain Dew” displayed excellent colors and an image of a Mountain Dew bottle with whimsical “hillbilly” graphics. It rose to $4,920 against an estimate of $1,000-$2,000. Following right behind it, pricewise, was a rare and desirable Mountain Dew figural point-of-sale display featuring the familiar mountain man character holding a “stoneware” jug. Standing 48 inches tall and graded 8.5 out of 10, it sold for $4,428 against an estimate of $800-$1,600.

After the sale, Morphy Auctions’ president, Dan Morphy, remarked: “We’ve always known there were many active collectors of soda pop and other types of antique advertising in the western states because ever since we launched our business twenty years ago, those collectors have been bidding remotely in our Pennsylvania-based sales. Now we’re bringing the merchandise to them, which they especially appreciate because our satellite gallery is located in a city known for fun and entertainment. At every one of our Las Vegas sales we meet collectors who are new to the hobby. They tell us they love the high-quality merchandise we sell and appreciate our friendly, helpful staff. That’s very satisfying to us.”

To discuss consigning soda pop or other antique advertising to a future auction at Morphy’s, please call Dan Morphy at 877-968-8880 or email [email protected]. All enquiries are kept strictly confidential and there is never an obligation to consign. View the fully-illustrated catalog for the June 7-8, 2024 Soda Pop & Advertising Auction, complete with prices realized, at Morphy’s website:

Media Source

More in the auction industry