One of the most popular soda bottles to collect is Coca Cola, called “Coke” for short.
The very first Coke bottles were Hutchinson style bottles – these are extremely rare and date before 1900. Straight-sided (S-S) Coke bottles with crown tops date about 1900-1919; colors were clear, aqua, green, blue, and amber with amber bottles in good condition typically bringing the highest prices. “Coca-Cola” embossed in script letters contained Coke and is more valuable, while the “Coca-Cola” embossed in block letters contained a flavored drink other than Coke so is less valuable.
There are two styles of Hutchinson Coke: one with “Coca-Cola” in script and one without. The Biedenharn hutch is the one without “Coca-Cola” in script. Also be careful of the script hutch reproduction. Examples of all 3 hutches can be found on the Antique Coca-Cola Bottle Hall of Fame page.
Of the S-S Cokes, listed below are the basic styles which depend primarily on where the script Coca-Cola logo is located:
- center slug plate script – about 1900-1905.
- base rectangular slug plate script – about 1900-1905.
- mid body script – about 1900-1910.
- base script – about 1902-1915.
- center diamond script – about 1907-1912. Only from Cumberland MD (amber and clear) and Toledo OH (amber). Photo courtesy of Tim McGuire.
- vertical script – about 1905-1910. Only from Milwaukee WI.
- vertical arrow script – about 1912-1916. All amber, primarily TN and KY.
- circular arrow script – about 1912-1914. All from Jackson TN (amber and aqua).
- shoulder script – about 1910-1919.
For each style listed above, you can click to see an example. Note there are also custom styles that do not fall into one of these categories.
The S-S Cokes originally had labels. To see one with its original label, click here . There are reproduction labels around in new condition, so if the bottle looks old and the label looks new, then chances are that the label was added later. To see an original and repro label side by side, click here . In this photo, the repro label is on the left and the original label is on the right. According to the Petretti book on Coke bottles, the repro labels have even/straight/uniform lines while the originals had uneven/dotted lines.
By 1917 Cokes started being produced in the familiar hobble-skirt shape which is still used today. The first hobbleskirts where patened Nov 16, 1915 and came in a variety of colors: clear, aqua, ice blue, and green. To see a rare 1915 that is blue on top and green on the bottom, click here .
The first five versions of these hobble-skirt Cokes are identified by their embossing:
- “NOV.16 1915” were produced from 1917 to 1928.
- “DEC. 25 1923” (called the “Christmas Cokes”) were produced from 1928 to 1938. Must be careful since reproductions of the 1923 Cokes were produced in 1989. Easiest way to spot a repro is by looking at the base of the bottle. See photo of 5 Christmas Cokes, one of which is repro – can you spot the repro? It’s the one in middle of the bottom row. The City/State letters are smaller on the repro. Repro also has a circular line joining the State and City names.
- “PAT. D 105529” (called the “D-Patent Cokes”) were produced from 1938 to 1951.
- “US PATENT OFFICE / MIN CONTENTS 6 FL OZ” were produced from 1951 to 1958.
- “US PATENT OFFICE / MIN CONTENTS 6 1/2 FL OZ” were produced from 1958 to 1965.
Later hobble-skirt bottles (i.e. Dec 25 1923 patent and later) all have a green tint color. One exception are those produced during 1942-45; these were blue due to the copper shortage for WWII (copper gives the green color).
There are also some amber colored hobble-skirt bottles . around, but the amber color in these bottles is artificially produced by irradiating the bottle. There are also fake amber S-S Coke bottles: see if you can spot the artifical amber bottle in this photo, courtesy of Tim McGuire. The photo shows the various shades of amber that occur naturally, with the repro in the middle: a Macon GA S-S. There are no natural amber S-S bottles from Macon GA.
Be careful of Coke bottles with a deep purple color. Here are purple examples of a S-S and 1915 Hobbleskirt. Dark purple is not a natural color for these bottles and is caused by irradiating clear bottles. The older Coke bottles had manganese that will turn the bottle dark purple when irradiated. However, these purple bottles do make a nice color addition to your collection. There are some naturally occuring bottles with a light amethyst/purple tint – leaving them out in prolonged sunlight will darken the tint (but they will never become a dark purple). Buyer beware!
Other Coke Stuff
Check out these 1915 ads that shows a labeled straight-sided Coke bottle and the circular arrow symbol that appeared on some of the Tenn amber Cokes. One ad shows the baseball played Eddie Collins.
Books on Coke
- Bill Porter writes/sells the “Coke Bottle Checklist” which covers the history, rarity, and pricing (general) of embossed, crown-top Coke bottles with script trademarks (i.e. Coca-Cola in italics). Reggie sometimes has extra copies for sale at $30 each plus $2 postage but have been sold out lately; Email to check availability.
- Kovels’ has a section on Coca-Cola.
- Coca Cola Commemorative Bottles: Identification & Value Guide (Coca-Cola Commemorative Bottles) by Bob and Debra Henrich
- Commemorative Coca-Cola Bottles (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by Joyce Spontak.
- B.J. Summers Guide to Coca-Cola 7th Edition
Links to other Coca-Cola sites
- Ask a Coke Question
- Hall of Fame for Antique Coca-Cola Bottles
- Reggie’s Coca-Cola Bottles For Sale
- Tim McGuire’s Coke page.
- Coca-Cola Collectors Club
- Can find Coke bottles for auction at eBay under Collectibles:Advertising:Soda:Coca-Cola or Collectibles:Bottles .. Coca-Cola or by searching eBay for Coca-Cola Bottle or Coke Bottle.
- Keith’s Coca-Cola Bottle Clearing House
- Clyde’s Coke Page
- Some Coca-Cola History
- Coca-Cola On the Web
- THE Coca-Cola Web Page
- American Cola Company – Coca Cola Collectibles Store
- Old Coke Bottles page by Danny Hills of Alabama.