16-ounce Coca-Cola bottle molds
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    Auction Finds

    Spotting a fake Coca Cola bottle

    When you’re in Georgia, you expect to see a lot of Coca Cola. When you visit antique shops and malls in the state, you expect to see even more.

    And I saw plenty of Coke paraphernalia – vintage, reproductions and otherwise – when I dropped by several antique malls while I was visiting my family in the state over the holidays. I checked out the Big Peach Antiques Mall near Macon and several shops in a pinpoint of a town near Atlanta called Chamblee, which bills itself as the South’s largest antiques row.

    Coca Cola bottles

    An up-close look at “D-Patent Cokes” with the names of Macon, Albany and Savannah, GA.

    I went to Chamblee the day after Christmas and only a handful of shops seemed to be open, including the Rust ‘n Dust, one of those places that someone like me can get lost in. While my sister Christine breezed through the store and finished rather quickly, I was still looking through a case in the first room.

    The shop had several of the Coke women trays, and they looked to be not the originals from the early 20th century – which I blogged about last year after one was sold at auction – but the reproductions from the 1970s. At an antiques mall near Macon, I spotted two vintage porcelain Coke signs whose prices attested to their authenticity.

    Most of the stuff at an all-Coke booth at the Big Peach mall were reproductions whose asking prices were much more than I thought the items were worth.

    Coca Cola bottles

    Porcelain Coca Cola signs that looked to be authentic.

    It seems that I always come across the hobble-skirt Coke bottles, which were first used around 1917 and are still in use today. I’ve even picked up some in box lots at auctions in Philadelphia, including a handful once with the names of cities on the bottom. I just knew I had made a magnificent find.

    Once I got them home and did the research, I learned that they were fakes. Coke bottlers starting in 1918 embossed the name of their city and state on the bottom of the bottles, and some collectors buy them based on that (bottles with small town names are said to be more collectible). My auction bottles, however, had a ring that connected the name of the city and state, indicating that they were fakes.

    Coca Cola bottles

    The bottom of this Coca Cola bottle has the city of Albany, GA, embossed on the bottom.

    At one of the antique malls, I stopped at a booth with more than a dozen hobble-skirt Coke bottles on a shelf. Always on the lookout for the originals, I started reading the inscription on the belly of the bottles (I’m always searching for the original Dec. 25, 1923, “Christmas Cokes” from the 1920s and not the 1989 repros, along with error bottles). They all appeared to be “D-Patent Cokes” bottles, which were made between 1938 and 1951.

    Turning the bottles over one by one, I saw that each had the ring on the bottom and a C in a circle in the center, which was different from the other repros I had seen. One website I checked showed a similar 1950s bottle from the Chattanooga Glass Co. with the Circle C logo. Even so, the $5 price tag was a no-sell for me.

    I know not to fall for Coke hobble-skirt bottles in amber or purple, because they are definitely not real – even though I haven’t come across any. Coke’s straight-sided bottles were made in amber during the early 1900s.

    Coca Cola bottles

    An array of Coca Cola bottles for sale at an antiques mall.

    This goes to show that you should always educate yourself before you go out shopping at antique malls for anything. Most of these were those gigantic malls with unmanned booths where you pick an item and pay for it at a common cashier counter. There’s no one around the booth who can tell you if something is authentic or vintage or antique, so you have to rely on your own knowledge and instinct. Or do what I do: Google it on my Droid phone.

    Coca Cola is among one of the most popular collectibles, and there’s a lot of the stuff out there with its name on it. You can find tons of websites with stuff to buy, guidelines on what’s authentic or not, forums to help you identify what you have, places to sell it, and experts who collect and know the stuff.

    So when it comes to Coke, you don’t have to be in the dark. If you have some Coke bottles and want to know how much they sell for, eBay is a good place to start.


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    1. You are incorrect about the amber bottles. Coca Cola definitely bottled in the Amber bottle in 1905.

      • Thanks. It seems that Coke’s straight-sided bottles from the early 1900s were made in amber. The later hobble-skirts were not; those would be fakes.

    2. Hello,
      I just read your article on Coca Cola bottles and wanted to say I enjoyed reading it,but there are some inaccurate statements in it..The Chattanooga bottle and your auction bottles are 89′ repro’s,they did make a purple bottle(light purple),and the amber bottles for the most part are real.The bottle is irradiated over time and turns this color.Also,no one know’s for sure what bottles are out there with an obscure name on the bottom.A bottle from Buena Vista,Ga(20 miles from me) was found recently and no one knew they bottled those types of Coca Cola bottles.
      Good Luck Hunting,

    3. I realize you wrote this article nearly a year ago, but I thought I’d help you out a bit. Not all hobbleskirt bottles with lines between the city and state are reproductions. In fact, the Albany, GA bottle you pictured in this article is NOT a reproduction. Yes, all of the 1989 reproductions have the smaller lettering and line between the city and state; however, NONE of the reproductions show the manufacturer’s trademark on the bottom. In fact, the mark on the bottom (similar to a copyright symbol) was used by the Chattanooga Glass Company from 1927-1988. The bottle pictured was manufactured between 1927 and 1937.

      It is a common misconception, and one that is blown slightly out of proportion, that if a hobbleskirt bottle has the line and small lettering then it is a 1989 reproduction. The Chattanooga Glass company is the ONLY exception to this rule.

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