Now it’s time to turn our Coca-Cola memorabilia and paraphernalia face to another item: Coca-Cola clocks. Take a minute to read about the history of Coke timepieces.
As with the other items we’ve discussed, clocks are practical and useful, a fact which extends the amount of time that businesses would display them. They far outlasted ephemera like posters or other paper products.
100 Gallon Sellers
The first Coca-Cola clocks were sent out in 1893, only seven years after John Stith Pemberton invented the drink. Only sellers who bought and sold at least 100 gallons of the syrup qualified for these clocks.
Because these clocks were being distributed well before the age of readily available and widespread electricity, the first models were key-wound. Surprisingly, they were not the now iconic Coca-Cola red, but blue. They used Roman numerals on round faces.
In 1900, Coca-Cola began distributing schoolhouse clocks with octagonal faces. Rather than being key-wound, these models were pendulum driven. They feature ornately carved wooden cases.
The ornate pendulum models lasted only a few years. In 1905, the clocks transitioned to a regulator-style mechanic. They came with two panels, one for the clock and one for an illustration similar to the kinds found on trays.
At Home Models
Coca-Cola clock designs were not limited to large business styles. Until 1920, Coke also distributed clocks more suitable for desks or tables. These clocks featured slogans encouraging the purchase of bottled Coca-Cola to be enjoyed at home.
From the 1930s on, Coca-Cola clocks went electric. These more reliable models followed the trends that many of the other promotional items followed. Designs were simplified and featured the Coca-Cola logo more prominently. Wood and metal gradually gave way to all plastic models. By the mid-twentieth century, plastic was used for the clocks almost exclusively.
The early models of Coca-Cola clocks are highly sought after by collectors, as they appeal both to Coke collectors and clock collectors. Truly rare items can sell for several thousand dollars.