Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Largest private Coca-Cola memorabilia collection in the world

My favorite part about collecting is the stories about how people started their collection. Bill Bateman and Randy Schaeffer have this to say about the origin of their world-class collection of Coca-cola memorabilia: A thirst for collecting:

According to Bill, a retired Kutztown professor, their mega collection can be traced back to modest beginnings - to a beer tray on the wall of a bar.
"It was about 1970," he recalled. "I bought an interest in a bar over near Lehigh University, and we thought if we put beer trays up, other people in the area would bring beer trays up and give them to us to put on the walls." 
It didn't work. 

On their own, Bill and Randy were able to collect a few hundred beer trays. But they become disillusioned with the idea after seeing some of the Coca-Cola advertising around at auctions.
"The Coca-Cola stuff was better done and usually showed a woman," Bill said. "The beer stuff showed a glass or beer, a bottle of beer, an old monk with a beer. Occasionally a woman, but not very attractive stuff."

They began trading their beer trays for Coca-Cola trays, purchasing their first - a 1953 tray - for $13 in Kempton.
"It took a long time before it was worth $13, but it did change our direction," Bill said. "We started collecting Coke stuff."Decades later, a Coca-Cola lamp hangs on the landing to their stairwell. The lamp dates back to 1911, when it hung in a drugstore in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
It's Bill's favorite piece in the house.

"There was a man who from the time he was a teenager until he had retired, had been a soda jerk there," Randy said. "He had been the guy serving sodas to people from the soda fountain, and when they were getting ready to tear down the building, they asked if he wanted any mementos of the place. This happened in the '50s or '60s, our guess was. And he said, 'You know, I've stood my entire life under that light, so I'd like it.' "

When the man died about 25-years-ago, Bill and Randy traveled to Ohio to purchase it during the nationally-advertised auction.

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